Juniper Taps Former Verizon CTO As Its New CEO

Juniper Networks Tuesday appointed Shaygan Kheradpir, former CTO and CIO of telecommunications giant Verizon Communications, as its new CEO and a member of the company's board of directors effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Kheradpir, a 10-year Verizon veteran who led the development of the carrier's $12 billion FiOS business, is widely credited with pushing Verizon into the consumer broadband business with the advent of the consumerization of IT.

Solution providers said they are anxious to see if Kheradpir's appointment will result in the company placing a bigger bet on the service provider market at the expense of the commercial enterprise segment, where partners have the bulk of their business.

[Related: Juniper Channel Chief Chris Jones Jumps Ship To Avaya ]

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"I had to do a double take on it," said one Juniper solution provider, who requested anonymity. "I think in our industry we have gotten so used to picking that next IBM, Microsoft and Cisco guy. It was a bold pick, and it was a unique pick."

The solution provider said the service provider market makes up a "decent" amount of his overall Juniper business, sitting at roughly 20 percent. He noted, though, that that figure can vary based on the year. "It's a decent business for us, but it's definitely a different type of selling," the solution provider said.

In the most recent quarter, Juniper's commercial enterprise business was down 4 percent to $397.3 million compared with the year-ago quarter's $413 million.

Juniper's service provider business in the most recent quarter, meanwhile, was up 12 percent to $788 million, compared with $705 million in the year-ago quarter.

Juniper pointed out that Kheradipir was an "original member of the management team when Verizon was created and through a decade of leadership, was an instrumental member of the team that transitioned Verizon from a regional telephone company" to a global broadband giant.

After leaving Verizon in 2011, Kheradipir joined global finance giant Barclays PLC as COO overseeing the company's technology and operations. Kheradpir succeeds Kevin Johnson, who in July disclosed his plan to retire as CEO. Johnson will remain a member of the board.

Kheradpir's appointment comes amid an exodus of Juniper channel talent, including the departure just last week of Juniper channel chief Chris Jones, a three-year Juniper veteran who left to join rival Avaya as vice president of global distribution. A replacement for Jones has yet to be named.

Jones had spent only seven months in the top channel job for Juniper, replacing widely respected channel veteran Frank Vitagliano, who left Juniper in March for a high-level channel role at Dell.

NEXT: Partners 'Surprised' By Kheradpir's Appointment

Other channel executives that have left Juniper in the past four months include Emilio Umeoka, former senior vice president of worldwide partners; former senior director of worldwide partner development Lori Cornmesser; and former Juniper senior vice president of worldwide partner development Steve Pataky.

Furthermore, TorreyPoint, Juniper's Partner of the Year for the Americas in 2012 with more than 400 customers, was recently acquired by FishNet Security. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal combines two of the largest Juniper partners in North America.

Juniper partners told CRN they were surprised to see Juniper tap a new CEO with such deep roots in the service provider space, rather than the commercial enterprise market.

"I would have thought that they would have gone for a bigger name from an enterprise-type company. It's surprising to me that they are getting somebody from the service provider space," said an executive at a Juniper partner, who requested anonymity. "I would have thought that they would have grabbed somebody from another Silicon Valley-based company."

The partner, who said about 10 percent of the company's overall Juniper business is in the service provider market, added that "time will tell" if Kheradpir's appointment is a good move for Juniper and its partners.

"We are heavy in the enterprise, so I am hoping that they continue to develop technology that is geared toward the enterprise," the partner said.

John O'Shea, senior vice president of Vology, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider and Juniper partner, said he was glad to see Juniper name a new CEO, as it might lead to more stability across Juniper's broader executive team.

"The certainty is welcomed," O'Shea told CRN. "They have had some executive changes, so starting with the CEO is perhaps the first step toward more certainty in their executive ranks."