New CEO Kheradpir Lays Out Vision For Future Of Juniper Networks

At Juniper Networks' Global Partner Conference this week, new Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir laid out his vision for both Juniper and its partners moving into 2014. That vision, he said, is centered around Juniper embracing hybrid cloud ecosystems, highly intelligent networks, and starting to view service provider and enterprise customers through a similar lens.

Kheradpir, who's only been at the helm of Juniper since Jan. 1, formally addressed Juniper's partner base for the first time this week at the company's third annual Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas. In his roughly 15-minute opening remarks, Kheradpir outlined his mission of helping Juniper customers lay what he called their "bridges to the future," or, more specifically, building out advanced, hybrid cloud ecosystems and highly intelligent -- or "high IQ" -- networks. "This is the grand opportunity for Juniper and its partners," Kheradpir said.

[Related: New Juniper Channel Chief: We Are A Stable Organization ]

Kheradpir didn't mention any existing or new Juniper products that will serve as the foundation for these next-generation networks, and declined to do so during a follow-up interview with CRN. Kheradpir did say, however, that these high IQ networks will be categorized as being high-performing, context-aware, vertically and horizontally scalable, and, above all, reliable and hackproof. Juniper partners, he continued, will be more critical than ever as Juniper drives the adoption of these new technologies.

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"Partners are always important, but at this moment, they are critical because of their knowledge of our customers, their legacy bases and how to start taking customers from where they are today onto this bridge, and to the other side," Kheradpir told CRN.

One Juniper partner, who asked not to be identified, said he wished the vision Kheradpir laid out during his opening remarks was more detailed, or at least included specific references to Juniper products or partner strategy.

"Your CEO is your leader and visionary. I would have liked to have felt like he knew exactly where Juniper is now and his vision for where he is going," said the partner. "There was no meat to it at all."

Kheradpir, who before joining Juniper was COO at global finance giant Barclays, replaces former Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson, who in July announced plans to retire. Prior to Barclays, Kheradpir spent 10 years at Verizon Telecommunications, a fact that prompted some Juniper partners to question whether Juniper would start to double down on its service provider business, potentially at the expense of its enterprise segment.

"We have a great core service provider business, but have a lot of commercial enterprise customers too," said John O'Shea, senior vice president of Vology, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider and Juniper partner. "The commercial enterprise portfolio is very important to us, and so I was really looking for some reassurance that that was still part of Juniper's strategy, and I think we got that during [Kheradpir's] session."

Kheradpir told CRN that the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between the needs of Juniper's service provider and enterprise customers, particularly as enterprises -- and especially large financial services and health-care organizations -- demand more "carrier-grade" solutions.

"When I look at [Juniper customers'] buying behaviors from last year, you see carrier equipment that I would have never thought being purchased by enterprises. You had things that we typically think of as being 'enterprise' being bought by carriers," Kheradpir said. "Everybody wants big, tall firewalls that can't go down, and everybody wants a controller, and everybody wants automation."

Regardless of Kheradpir's roots in the service provider space, Juniper partners said they appreciated Kheradpir's technical and engineering background. "Juniper started as an engineering-focused company, and they sort of changed that a lot over the years," said Doug Marschke, CTO of SDN Essentials, a California-based Juniper partner. "I think if it can get back to being more engineering-focused, it would be a big turnaround."

Juniper's Global Partner Conference comes on the heels of hedge-fund and Juniper investor Elliot Management Corp. filing a report that encouraged Juniper to cut costs, buy back shares and streamline its product offerings. Kheradpir told CRN that Juniper is still in the process of reviewing Elliot Management's filing.

"We just got it two days ago," he said. "So we are studying the analysis that was done and we are going through it right now."