New Juniper Partner Marketing Head: Marketing Cutbacks Not Impacting Partner MDFs

Despite broader cuts to its marketing organization, Juniper Networks is investing more in its partner marketing efforts and marketing development funds (MDFs), according to Matt Hurley, Juniper's new vice president of Worldwide Partner Marketing.

Hurley, who replaced Juniper's former partner marketing head Luanne Tierney in April, also said Juniper is combing its field marketing and partner marketing organizations in an effort to drive more alignment and consistent messaging across the two units.

"In the partner marketing organization, and that includes the global team and the field team, there are no head-count or programmatic cuts," Hurley told CRN. "I have actually enhanced the budgets -- the opex dollars and the head count -- in the partner marketing arena."

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Juniper in April said in an 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it was laying off approximately 550 employees, or 6 percent of its work force, as part of the broader restructuring and cost-cutting initiative being driven by Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir.

Juniper also said in the filing, which came out just days before Tierney left the company, that it plans on making "marketing program reductions" in its second fiscal quarter.

Some Juniper partners told CRN after the marketing reductions were announced that they were concerned the cuts would specifically impact MDFs, especially since those funds seem increasingly inconsistent quarter-on-quarter.

"What we are expecting to happen is that [Juniper] will probably consolidate the number of partners that they are actually giving some marketing funding to," said an executive at one Juniper Elite partner, who asked not to be named. "As they look at their spend, my guess is that there will be a fewer number of partners getting dollars."

But, according to Hurley, who joined Juniper in 2012 as vice president, worldwide services strategy, partner MDFs "have not been touched" as part of Juniper's broader marketing cutbacks. Hurley declined to give the exact head count or dollar investments Juniper has made this year in its partner marketing organization, but did say Juniper's MDF investments in 2014 are up 9.1 percent compared to last year.

Furthermore, Juniper also is giving partners the green light to start using MDF dollars to fund network assessments and other professional services for their customers, Hurley said.

Ziad Samad, president of Sanforce, a Doral, Fla.-based Juniper partner, said he hasn't seen any major changes this year in the marketing support or dollars Sanforce is seeing from Juniper, even amid the broader changes to Juniper's marketing organization.

"When they got their new CEO, who came from Barclays, you knew the company was going to do something to rectify how much cash they have on hand," Samad said. "But we are not really seeing any lack of support. They want to invest in partners that are going to stay with them."

Hurley said Juniper's decision to combine its field marketing and partner marketing organizations -- both of which now report to him -- will drive more collaboration and alignment across the two groups.

"It ensures that our partners are in lock step with everything we do -- every product, every solution, every program, every demand-generation campaign we launch, will now have a partner element launching at the same point," Hurley said.

Samad said breaking down the walls between Juniper's field and partner marketing organizations is a good move for partners.

"The more we are aligned with Juniper and the more that we understand the road map and what is on the horizon, the better we can position Juniper," he said.

Meanwhile, some Juniper partners said they are waiting to learn more about Juniper's recently laid-out vision for "high IQ networks," a concept touted heavily by Kheradpir at Juniper's partner conference in January. One partner said it still isn't entirely clear which Juniper products will help build out those next-generation networks or what partners' roles will be.

"It's still not clear to me what the next couple of steps are," said a sales executive at one Juniper Elite partner, who requested anonymity. "The road map is just not that clear."

Hurley said Juniper has set a "target date" within the company for revealing product details related to its high-IQ networks vision.