Cloud, Services And SDN: Juniper Networks' New Americas Channel Chief Outlines 2013 Goals

Chris Jones, Juniper Networks' newly appointed vice president of Americas Partner Sales, has a detailed to-do list for the Juniper channel in 2013, and driving more alignment between Junipers' direct and indirect sales team along with helping partners transition to next-generation business models are at the top of his list.

Jones took to his new role at Juniper as the successor to Frank Vitagliano, who left the company in March to lead channel sales at Dell. In his first few weeks on the job, Jones helped lead Juniper's Partner Advisory Council [JPAC] in San Diego, where he met with 25 of Juniper's top partners.

Jones said he spent much of the Advisory Council listening, as partners gave their "candid, unadulterated" feedback on Juniper's Partner Advantage Program and more. But, Jones also had a chance to share some of his goals for the Juniper channel, which he also shared in a recent interview with CRN.

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Among these goals, Jones said, is increasing the collaboration between Juniper's indirect and direct sales teams.

"The overarching theme that came out of [JPAC] is how will we drive a more collaborative relationship today, and not just at an executive level, but at all levels of our business," Jones said.

The only way to ensure this collaboration -- and to minimize channel conflict -- is to help Junipers' internal sales force better understand the channel, Jones continued. To do this, Juniper is rolling out its Teaming Standard, an approach through which Juniper solution providers will have a more formal process for escalating issues to Juniper and also be more tightly aligned with Juniper's sales force, especially for account mapping and demand generation activities.

As part of the Juniper Teaming Standard, Jones said Juniper is rolling out a "curriculum" for its internal sales teams, meant to educate them on the different types of Juniper partners, partner profitability models, and details surrounding partner discounts and margins.

Jones said a pilot program for the Teaming Standard is already in place, with this curriculum starting to circulate inside Juniper.

Ryan Young, co-founder and COO of TorreyPoint, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based solution provider, said TorreyPoint has been vocal about driving this kind of alignment between Juniper's internal sales teams and its channel.

"We've been communicating with Juniper that this is a really essential and necessary step to take," Young said.

John O'Shea, senior vice president of Vology, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider, agreed that this kind of collaboration would definitely be welcomed by Juniper's partner community, particularly early on in the sales cycle.

"The key point is that collaboration earlier in these opportunities is really critical to success," O'Shea said. "To know that you can engage the inside sales team who sometimes might be more accessible than other partners of [Juniper's] organization -- and to be able to do that confidently and know they understand our business -- would definitely be welcome."

NEXT: Juniper To Drive More Services, Cloud Offerings Through Partners

In addition to tighter alignment between solution providers and the company's internal sales team, Juniper's Jones said he hopes to drive more of Juniper's professional services and cloud offerings through the channel. To that end, Jones confirmed that Juniper will be launching the Juniper Partner Advantage Services program and Juniper Partner Advantage Cloud program in the third quarter of this year.

On the services end, the Juniper Partner Advantage Services program will include two partner specializations: Partner Support Services and Partner Professional Services. The Support Services specialization will focus on maintenance services, and Juniper plans to offer four new services troubleshooting workshops -- including service provider routing, enterprise routing, enterprise switching and security -- later this year.

Meanwhile, the Juniper Partner Advantage Cloud program will offer partners training, marketing, financing and rewards incentives to sell cloud capabilities specific to Juniper and its technology partners.

Jones said services and cloud offerings were a major focus at Juniper's recent JPAC event, as partners look to transition their businesses to next-generation business models, based on recurring revenue streams.

"This whole concept of managed services, cloud services, and tying them to monthly recurring revenue -- all of our partners are interested in this," Jones said.

Looking at Juniper's partner base, Jones said all partners are thinking about making the leap to recurring revenue, with most "aggressively pursuing" a plan. He said Juniper will roll out a number of components, alongside its third-quarter launch of the new services and cloud programs, meant to help partners making this transition.

TorreyPoint's Young said, given his company's focus on managed services -- and its growing focus on technologies like the cloud and software-defined networking (SDN) -- it's nice to see Juniper aligning itself with these same trends.

"For us, it's all about services and recurring revenue, and the cloud is a huge component of that," Young said.

Lastly, Jones said he wants to help both Juniper and its channel become a force in the SDN space. At its Global Partner Conference in January, Juniper outlined a four-step strategy for SDN and launched its new SDN-focused controller earlier this month.

Moving forward, Jones said Juniper will start investing more in partners that are actively building SDN and cloud strategies. Jones said Juniper will specifically focus on partners that are building out a full Juniper practice around these technologies, meaning those that are wrapping services around Juniper's products.

"We feel like we've got a very, very strong story in the marketplace, and for the partners that are energized around ... cloud-based services and an SDN plan, those are the partners we want to engage very closely with and invest in," Jones said.