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Juniper Networks: 'We Made The Hard Pivot And Are Now Set For Great Growth'

Juniper Networks has been making ‘painful’ changes needed to transform the primarily service provider-focused company, and the company wants partners to help them go after more enterprise customers, according to Juniper execs.

Juniper Networks is reorienting itself toward the enterprise and is relying heavily on the channel to help the former "box company" reach more of those customers with software and services.

"What made us successful in the past is not necessarily going to make us successful in the future," said Juniper CEO Rami Rahim during his keynote at NXTWORK 2019, Juniper's fifth annual customer and partner summit this week. But the company has been making "painful" changes that were ultimately needed to transform the firm, according to Juniper executives.

Juniper has “made mistakes” because its recipe – not its strategy -- wasn’t right, Marcus Jewell, Juniper's chief sales officer and executive vice president, told an audience of channel partners this week. Service providers have historically been Juniper's biggest customer base accounting for about 40 percent of Juniper’s business today, but the segment is on the decline. In Q3 2019, Juniper's service provider segment dipped down 17 percent year-over-year.

[Related: Juniper Networks Revamps Partner Program To Zero In On Software, Recurring Revenue: Exclusive ]

The service provider segment isn't part of the company's core strategy for growth. Rather, Juniper has its sights set on the enterprise, a business that has seen double-digit growth, and serving these customers more software-based solutions.

"We made the hard pivot and now are set for great growth," Jewell said.

Structured Communications, a Portland, Ore.-based solution provider that partners with both Mist and Juniper, is having a "breakout" year with Juniper, said Bill Tracy, executive vice president of technology for Structured.

Structured Communications has recently been making big bets on several very large enterprise accounts with the help of Juniper, but this time, not in just a fulfillment relationship between the two companies, Tracy said.

"One of the biggest execution pieces I saw from Juniper this year was really on the field sales engagement side. It was a true partnership going into those accounts," he said. "It was about figuring out where we both could provide value. These were big name accounts were the Juniper account team could be very high-touch and we could come in with other products and services to help push that conversation over the top."

Phil OReilly, vice president of sales and strategy for Juniper, said that heading into 2020, partners will see a renewed focus on the enterprise as a route to expansion for Juniper, but the company isn’t quite there yet. “We were a box company,” OReilly said. “We are not a solutions company yet, but we are clearly evolving towards solutions.”

Juniper acquired AI-powered wireless networking firm Mist Systems in March for $405 million. The startup is helping Juniper clarify its story in the industry and make the transition to software and services, Sujai Hajela, former co-founder and CEO of Mist Systems and current senior vice president of Juniper, told CRN.

"We couldn't be more excited about the things we're seeing Juniper evolve and bring to market over the past two or three years," said Jerry McIntosh, senior vice president of Advanced Technology for international solution provider ePlus, a Juniper partner.

ePlus is helping customers as they migrate to more cloud solutions. Juniper has been a great partner to ePlus over the years, especially right now as it shifts its focus to next-generation solutions, McIntosh said.

ePlus has also been working closely with Juniper as its brought MIST into the fold because the firm was working with MIST for IoT.

"We thought it was interesting when Juniper acquired [MIST], we took another look at how MIST could enable our enterprise customers. We found that particularly with AI and automated configuration and end user experience monitoring, we have customers now deploying it to offer new services in campus environments and to scale," McIntosh said.

MIST is laying the foundation for Juniper’s AI-driven enterprise focus. The company’s plan is to apply AI across its entire enterprise portfolio and has already started with its EX wired switching line. It will then extend AI into its routing and security product lines, Juniper’s Rahim said.

Juniper is going to be “richly rewarding” the partners that help them go after more enterprise customers, Oreilly said. "The dependency on the channel is going to be real … if we are unable to convince you, Juniper is not going to be successful.”

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