Juniper Enhances Partner Program

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking vendor this week is rolling out updates to its J-Partner Reseller Program that will incorporate a new three-tier certification structure and technology-specific specializations--hallmarks of the program Kothari helped develop during his tenure at rival Cisco Systems.

J-Partner launched in July, about two weeks before Kothari joined Juniper as its channel chief.

>> Some resellers think Juniper has done a better job than Cisco of protecting partner margins.

With the updates, Juniper is introducing Elite, Select and Reseller certification levels, which grant qualifying partners varying level discounts and support. Juniper will accept equivalent certifications from competitors--such as the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert or the Check Point Certified Security Principles Associate--toward qualification for its program, Kothari said.

"We're making it easy for partners to do business with us by reducing the expense to enter into the Juniper world," said Kothari, vice president of worldwide channels at Juniper. "If a partner has certain skill sets from any other player in the industry's training, then we will accept that where appropriate and then offer the delta training and coursework for learning the difference between those products and [Juniper's]," he said.

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Juniper is also launching Advanced Security, Enterprise Networking and Service Provider Infrastructure technology specializations. Only partners that have earned these specializations will have access to the products associated with them, Kothari said.

"They've seen things at Cisco that work but they're not trying to create a duplicate of the Cisco model," said Steve Fuller, president of NetWorks Group, a security solution provider in Brig-hton, Mich. Juniper offers margins three times higher than what NetWorks Group makes on comparable Cisco security products, he said.

One partner who asked not to be identified said Juniper's choice to accept industry-equivalent certifications could open the door for too many Cisco partners to join top-level Elite status, thereby diluting its value.

Kothari said the Elite level would include the smallest number of partners of the three levels but did not specify how many of Juniper's 400 to 500 partners would fall into each category.