Juniper Exec: Our Channel Team Can Go 'Toe-To-Toe' With Any In The Industry

Juniper Networks intends to stay on a channel centric course even though worldwide channel chief David Helfer is leaving the company, Dan Miller, Juniper's senior vice president of alliances and channels, said Tuesday at the XChange 2014 event in San Antonio.

"We wish David the absolute best, but this team now – very senior and very established – has been up and going for almost a year," Miller . "We will not miss a beat. I am very confident of that."

Juniper confirmed last week that Helfer, a 14-year Juniper vet, is leaving the company to pursue a new opportunity. Sources told CRN Helfer is leaving to lead global channels at mobile security startup Lookout.

Related: Juniper Global Channel Chief Helfer Leaving For Mobile Security Startup

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Helfer's departure is one of several from Juniper's channel executive team over the past 18 months. But according to Miller, who Helfer reported into, Juniper's channel leadership is unrivaled in the industry.

"I will put our senior leadership team in channels up against anyone in this business, and I was with much bigger companies, including Hewlett-Packard, which I think has a good channel program," Miller said. "I will go toe-to-toe [with our competitors] any day."

Miller said Juniper's channel organization is structured in such a way that there is no "singular dependency" on one individual channel chief. Instead, the company has placed a heavier emphasis on developing channel leadership in each of its three geographical regions: the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific, greater China and Japan.

John O'Shea, president of Vology, a Tampa, Fla.-based solution provider and Juniper Elite partner, said his company is still getting solid channel support from Juniper.

"We we have been on a growth trajectory with Juniper which, quite candidly, has continued," O'Shea said. "We have looked and heard some of the noise out there and we were certainly concerned a little bit with some of the changes that were being made, but individual people can be replaced. I think [Juniper's] commitment to partners has maintained pretty steadfast."

Miller, for now, is stepping in to assume Helfer's responsibilities. He said he is evaluating whether he will assume the role in the long-term, or appoint somebody else to fill it.

Meanwhile, Miller said Juniper's recent restructuring and cost-cutting efforts under CEO Shaygan Kheradpir's "Integrated Operating Plan" (IOP) have had no significant impact on Juniper's channel organization.

Rather, Juniper has actually pumped more resources, both financially and in terms of headcount, into its channel organization over the past year, he said.

"If you look at the amount of money that goes into our indirect or alliances and channels business in terms of front-end MDF and back end rebates, I would say we spend, as a proportion, more than the average vendor, and that investment went up," Miller said, but declined to give exact investment amounts. "It went up, actually, by a material amount, and that was before and during the IOP."

While Juniper invests more in things like partner rebates and MDF, it is also becoming more "purposeful" in how it allocates those resources across its partner base, Miller said.

According to Jonathan Belcher, head of Americas partner sales at Juniper, the company moving forward is going to invest more in partners that are making Juniper a strategic part of their business, and invest less in those who are not.

"We are really starting to go deeper with a focused group of partners that we are managing directly through our partner organization," Belcher said.

Belcher said these partners tend to be Elite-level Juniper solution providers who are bringing in new Juniper business, looking to scale with Juniper, and are placing a heavy emphasis on services.

Juniper last year introduced two new partner specializations into its Partner Advantage Program – Partner Support Services (PSS) and Partner Professional Services (PSS) – to help nudge more partners, and specifically those at the Elite level, toward new support and professional services opportunities.

Miller, for his part, reiterated that Juniper's commitment to the channel – from the top-down -- is unwavering, even as its partner base and its own channel leadership team continues to change.

"[Kheradpir] is a channel-supporting and channel-advocating CEO," Miller said.