Kothari Joins Juniper

The company named Kothari to the newly created role of vice president of worldwide channels. Juniper also tapped Bob Bruce, another Cisco channel veteran, as vice president of Americas channels, and Neal Oristano, formerly of 3Com, as vice president of Americas sales.

Juniper also said that Mark Smith, vice president of worldwide corporate sales, who came to Juniper via the NetScreen Technologies acquisition, will leave the company after an undetermined transition period. Kothari spent five years in Cisco's channel organization and most recently served as vice president and general manager of Cisco's Linksys division.

"The position the company has, the growth potential, and my personal ability to make a difference in the outcome here are some of the key factors that attracted me to Juniper," he said.

Kothari, who helped engineer a channel renaissance at Cisco that included the complete restructuring of its partner strategy, brings expertise to Juniper's channel team that could prove crucial to the company's efforts to challenge Cisco, solution providers said.

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" 'Know thine enemy' comes into play here, so hopefully he will bring some insight into how Cisco does things," said Dan Wilson, vice president of vendor relations at Accuvant, a Juniper partner in Denver.

With Kothari's and Bruce's extensive connections into Cisco's partner base, Cisco solution providers are more likely to at least listen to the Juniper story, said John Freres, president of Meridian IT Solutions, a Cisco partner in Schaumburg, Ill. "This forces Cisco to really make sure they're doing everything they can to properly secure their channels," he said.

A Cisco spokesman declined to comment, citing the company's policy not to comment on competitive announcements.

The impending departure of Smith, who was behind security vendor NetScreen's well-respected channel program, is unsettling for some of the inherited NetScreen partner base, many of whom have little to no experience working with Cisco.

"[Smith] understands the channel. It's going to be hard for anybody to fill his shoes, in my mind," said Pat Grillo, president of Atrion Communications Resources, Branchburg, N.J.

Juniper's acquisition, which brought a new portfolio of enterprise security products and about 400 channel partners into the networking vendor's fold, has quickly catapulted the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company beyond its traditional carrier-focused customer base.

Including NetScreen, about 80 percent of Juniper's sales come through the channel, said Jim Dolce, executive vice president of worldwide field operations for Juniper.

The vendor's next enterprise push comes this fall, when it is slated to ship its J-Series Services Routers, its first foray into the enterprise access router market.