Juniper Launches Advantage Cloud Program To Nudge Partners Toward SDN Opportunity

Juniper Networks Thursday expanded its Partner Advantage channel program to include new partner specializations around its cloud and software-defined networking products.

The new Partner Advantage Cloud program, which was first teased by Juniper at its Global Partner Conference earlier this year, is aimed at segmenting and rewarding partners' cloud capabilities based on three new partner types: Cloud System Integrators, Cloud Services Providers and Cloud Infrastructure Partners.

The program, according to Juniper, will accelerate partner training and go-to-market efforts around the company's cloud- and SDN-focused offerings, including cloud security products, QFabric and the upcoming Contrail SDN controller.

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

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Lori Cornmesser, senior director of worldwide partner development at Juniper, described the new Advantage Cloud program as an evolution of Juniper's existing managed services program that was designed based on the feedback of partners in that managed services program today. The managed services program will eventually be phased out as part of this process, Cornmesser said.

"We have had the managed services program for the past couple years, and this is an evolution of that program," Cornmesser said. "We are really excited about this because it's not just another vendor program. We are going deeper and wider with our approach to this cloud program, primarily because the market has expanded."

Part of this wider focus, Cornmesser said, will entail Juniper partners leveraging their own brand, rather than Juniper's, when going to market with cloud-based offerings. What's more, the program's partner enablement activities will focus just as heavily on SDN -- something partners need to embrace as they "look for new ways to innovate in the enterprises," Cornmesser said -- as they will on cloud.

Cornmesser said the Advantage Cloud Program includes all the expected bells and whistles of a vendor partner program, including partner training resources, value-based incentives, solution configurator tools, and a dedicated MDF called the "Cloud Innovation Fund," which offers financial support specifically for partners building out cloud infrastructure solutions.

Gary Fish, CEO of FishNet Security, a Kansas City, Mo.-based solution provider and Juniper partner, said he looks forward to joining the new Cloud Advantage program as a means to accelerate FishNet's push into the SDN space.

"We feel that, for enterprises to move more services to the cloud, they will demand transparency and control over the security and configuration of their cloud environments. SDN is a key to making this happen," Fish wrote in an email to CRN. "With Juniper's early leadership position in SDN and their history of strong channel support, we feel that partnering with Juniper on their Juniper Partner Advantage Cloud program will position Fishnet Security as a leader in providing SDN solutions to Enterprises, Governments, and Cloud services providers."

NEXT: Juniper's New Cloud Specializations

Of the three partner types under Juniper's Cloud Advantage program, the first is Cloud Systems Integrator (CSI), or solution providers that can implement and deliver customized cloud solutions, in conjunction with professional service offerings, to private cloud customers.

The second type is Cloud Services Partners (CSP), which sell and provision cloud-based services and managed services based on Juniper infrastructure products.

The third type is a Cloud Infrastructure Partner (CIP), which sells cloud solutions based on Juniper hardware and software, but doesn't necessarily have a services play.

CSI and CSP are the higher-level designations. As such, CSI requires partners hold Juniper SDN, network infrastructure and advanced security authorizations, as well as a professional services specialization. CSP partners must have a support services specialization, whereas CIP has no specializations requirement.

Despite this tiered structure, partners don't necessarily have to be a CIP partner before they are eligible for the higher-level CSI and CSP designations, explained Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president, Worldwide Partners at Juniper.

"They don't necessarily need to go from one level to another," Umeoka said. "We are giving options to our partners, in terms of where they want to play. It's something partners have asked for."

The new Advantage Cloud Program is one of several enhancements Juniper has made to its Partner Advantage Program over the past few months. In August, for instance, Juniper introduced its Partner Support Services (PSS) and Partner Professional Services (PPS) specializations, which are now required to attain the Cloud Services Provider and Cloud Systems Integrator specializations.