Juniper WW Channel Chief To Depart As Channel, Commercial Units Merge Into One

Another wave of change has crashed over Juniper Networks' channel organization, with the company announcing Thursday the departure of Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president of worldwide partners, along with plans to combine its channel and commercial sales divisions into one.

In an interview with CRN, Juniper said Umeoka will continue to be "on board for a number of months," but has personally decided to leave the company.

Umeoka, who could not immediately be reached for comment, has been Juniper's worldwide channel chief since December 2010.

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David Helfer, previously Juniper's vice president of channels, distribution and alliances for Europe, Middle East and Africa, has been tapped as Umeoka's replacement. In addition, Helfer, a 13-year Juniper vet, will oversee Juniper's commercial business, as that segment becomes integrated with the Juniper channel organization.

Meanwhile, Juniper also appointed Douglas Erickson, former senior director of Enterprise Strategy and Planning, as its new Vice President, Worldwide Partner Programs and Development. Erickson, who came to Juniper in 2004 through the company's NetScreen acquisition, replaces Steve Pataky, who left Juniper in August for security vendor FireEye.

Juniper's executive team has seen a revolving door of leadership over the past several months. In addition to the exit of Pataky and Umeoka, Juniper in August announced the unexpected departure of CEO Kevin Johnson, who the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company said was retiring after five years in the role.

Johnson's departure came on the heels of several other high-level executive departures, including that of Juniper's Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Flaherty, who left to pursue a senior vice president and CMO role at CA Technologies.

In March, channel veteran and Juniper's Senior Vice President of Americas Partners Frank Vitagliano left the company to head up channel sales at Dell.

In addition to its channel team shake-up, Juniper told CRN it's combining its channel organization and commercial sales organization -- which assigns and targets enterprise accounts by territory -- into one, with Helfer overseeing the merged unit.

According to Helfer, Juniper decided to combine the two divisions because there was already significant overlap between the two, with a merger seeming like a natural next step and one that would make it easier for partners to do business with Juniper.

NEXT: Juniper's Channel, Commercial Merger

"What we noticed is that, over the past couple of years, the commercial teams and the partner teams had so many synergies," Helfer told CRN. "We wanted to bring the worldwide function and the strategy function and the execution function together, at a global level."

Helfer explained that these "synergies" had to do with the fact that Juniper's hundreds of commercial account managers work "day in and day out" with partners, including Juniper distributors and solution providers. This contrasts with Juniper's major account managers, who tend to work with partners only on select accounts.

Helfer said an example of how this merger will play out is that Juniper's global partner conference this January will, for the first time, be a "joint session of house" with its Americas Sales Summit. "We are making sure that our collective sales engines, being both our account teams, and our partner teams, are together in one room, hearing the message from our senior executives, on our sales leadership, our strategy and how we will execute in the field through partners," Helfer said.

Juniper's Erickson said another core piece of merging the two units will be ensuring commercial account managers work hand-in-hand with partners to target specific geographic regions.

"First off, [we're] making sure the commercial account manager's core team unit isn't just themselves. It's them, it's the partner account manager, and it's the sales reps of the partners," Erickson said. "That becomes the kind of core team that moves around, covers the territory and tries to drive the best customer experience possible."

Helfer said the merger of Juniper's channel and commercial sales divisions will have no impact on how partners are segmented or categorized within the Juniper Partner Advantage (JPA) program.

In terms of that program itself, Erickson, in his new role as Juniper's vice president of WW Partner Programs and Development, said he will continue to focus on the new cloud and services arms recently integrated into JPA, in addition to placing an increased emphasis on security.