Juniper Channel Chief: Why We Are 'Deliberately Dependent' On Partners

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2013 has been a busy year for the Juniper Networks channel. In addition to navigating a number of high-level executive changes -- not the least of which is the planned retirement of Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson -- Juniper partners are still wrapping their arms around technologies such as software-defined networking and the cloud and wrestling with the business model changes those technologies demand.

That's why Chris Jones, Juniper's recently appointed vice president of Americas partner sales, sat down recently with CRN to shed some light on Juniper's latest executive moves, its evolving channel strategy, and what it all means for solution providers at the end of the day. Here's a glimpse into that conversation.

On the heels of several other executive departures, Kevin Johnson recently announced plans to retire. Are partners concerned about all these changes, and if so, what's your message to them?

I have been in this business for a while and I think every year there has always been some kind of change with whatever organization I've been with. Some partners have asked about [Johnson] and, personally, I really enjoyed working with Kevin. He was a big proponent of what we have done in the commercial [market], and a strong advocate for the channel. But, from a corporate perspective, the team that Kevin built around him is also committed to those same values. So I don't see any fundamental changes happening with regard to our partner program.

Kevin made a personal decision to retire. He spent 30-some-odd years in a lot of intense, high-pressure roles and wants to spend some time with his family. I fully respect that decision. As far as what that means for specific partners, there is no change in strategy, direction or the investments we are making.

You've had a lot of face time with partners during your first four months as channel chief. What are they saying, and what have you learned?

I have spent the majority of my time on the road with our key partners. We have gotten very good feedback related to the three goals we laid out the last time [CRN and I] spoke: growth, focus and profitability. These have been resonating very well with the partner community. We are also getting a lot of optimism coming from the partners, in general, just around macroeconomic trends, what they are seeing from Juniper, how we are engaging together on deals, and how we are finding new opportunities together. The question I ask a lot is, how do you feel about the next six months over the last six months? Will they be better, worse or the same? Overwhelmingly, there's much more positivity around where things are heading.

Juniper recently announced partner certifications for professional and support services. What else can partners expect from Juniper in the services arena?

This is an area I would say differentiates us from other players that are out there because we are deliberately dependent on our partners to deliver services. You will not see Juniper getting into an environment where we will be competing with partners around services. Of the three goals we laid out -- growth, focus and profitably -- this ties to the profitably component for our partners. If we can help our partners drive and build more of their services offerings, that innately helps them become more profitable, and that's in everyone's best interest.

NEXT: Juniper To 'Do More With Fewer Partners'

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