Juniper Channel Chief Chris Jones Jumps Ship To Avaya

Jones has been Juniper's vice president of Americas partner sales since April, when he was tapped to replace former U.S. channel chief Frank Vitagliano, who left Juniper in March for a channel executive role at Dell.

Avaya confirmed to CRN Friday that Jones will officially join the company next week and will be introduced to partners at an event Nov. 13.

Sources said Jones will be vice president of global distribution at Avaya. Avaya declined to provide more details prior to the Nov. 13 event.

Jones was not available for comment.

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Mark Robinson, president of Juniper partner CentraComm, Findlay, Ohio, said he was surprised by Jones' departure. "I'm disappointed because he reinvigorated the Juniper channel and brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm. He was great at getting out on the street and working with partners," Robinson said. "On the positive side, I think Juniper will continue a lot of the things that Chris started, and I think there will be channel stability under David Helfer [vice president of worldwide channels and commercial at Juniper]."

Juniper confirmed that Jones has left the company but said it could not comment further, citing a policy of not commenting on employee departures.

Jones is the latest in a series of channel executives to exit Juniper. Last month, Juniper's former senior director of worldwide partner development, Lori Cornmesser, left the company to lead channel sales at network monitoring specialist Ixia Communications.

In October Juniper confirmed the upcoming departure of Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president of Worldwide Partners. And in August, Steve Pataky, Juniper's former vice president of worldwide partner development, jumped ship to security vendor FireEye.

Prior to his role as U.S. channel chief, Jones was vice president of worldwide commercial sales at Juniper. He has been with the company since December 2010 and was considered a key driver behind Juniper's enterprise sales strategy.

As channel chief, Jones placed a heavy focus on getting partners to explore cloud and software-defined networking markets. Under his leadership, Juniper in September rolled out its Partner Advantage Cloud program, a new arm of its Partner Advantage channel program that includes partner specializations around Juniper's cloud and SDN offerings.

Jones also took steps to drive alignment between Juniper's indirect and direct sales teams and helped launch the Juniper Teaming Standard, an initiative that gives solution providers a more formal process for escalating issues. The Teaming Standard also arms the internal Juniper sales team with a "curriculum" to better understand the different types of Juniper partners, partner profitability models, and details surrounding partner discounts and margins.

Upon Jones' appointment to the U.S. channel chief position in April, Juniper partners told CRN they welcomed Jones to the helm and expected his leadership would result in a strong 2013 "move-forward strategy" with the channel.

Jones also was recognized by CRN last month as one of the Top 25 Channel Sales Leaders of 2013.

Rob Wright contributed to this story.