Q&A: New Juniper CEO Speaks Out On Channel, Changing Face Of Juniper's Customers

Meet The New Boss

New Juniper Networks CEO Shaygan Kheradpir -- who officially replaced retiring CEO Kevin Johnson as of Jan. 1 -- joined roughly 1,000 Juniper partners this week in Las Vegas to discuss Juniper's strategy and vision for the year ahead.

Kheradpir, at the event, laid out his vision of Juniper being an industry leader in creating highly intelligent -- or "high IQ" -- networks to support advanced, hybrid cloud environments. He also sat down with CRN to talk about how he sees partners fitting into that vision.

Kheradpir, in addition, described the convergence he sees within Juniper's customer base, and responded to the recently filed report from hedge fund and Juniper investor Elliott Management.

Here's a look at what the new face of Juniper had to say.

What are your priorities for the Juniper channel in 2014?

This is my second week on the job, so I am still deep diving. But I can tell you, and we have discussed this before even today, that from a customer-perspective, which is sort of my history [with Juniper], the whole [concept of] the 'bridge to the future' and ... our history and DNA is well-suited toward where the world is going, which is cloud and high-IQ networks.

All these customers out there are on this one side of the river with these long, great legacies that they can't just rip and replace and come to the other side. Partners are always important, but at this moment, they are critical because of their knowledge of our customers, their legacy bases, and how to start taking customers from where they are today, onto this bridge, and to the other side.

As one team -- the Juniper team, with the partners, with the customers, together -- we will make this right-hand turn onto the bridge. ... It's not doing what we have always [done] just more and faster. It's doing something different.

What Juniper products will form these new kinds of networks?

[L]et's take security as an example. You need almost carrier-grade security in these cloud ecosystems. The speeds that you need are carrier-grade speeds. So almost every way you look at it, [you] need to have much higher speeds and feeds, much higher or taller firewalls; ... you need to be able to move workloads around, you need to have multitenancy, and you need to have a lot of intelligence, control and automation. And this where the high IQ part comes in. Within this fabric, there is a lot of insight that nobody is tapping into. And I don't want to take a firm direction on that, because we are still working, but that information is not used for analytics or for control across the entire fabric. So this is where the network becoming context aware of the applications and the performance of those applications and the ability to move them becomes very critical. So the piece parts of it are big transport, big routing, big switching, big firewalls, and by "big" I mean whether horizontally scaled or vertically scaled, with context and with control. ... And if look at those puzzle pieces, they are, for the most part, the DNA of Juniper.

Can we expect Juniper to double down on its service provider business, given your background at Verizon?

Again, this is my second week on the job, and these are questions that need to be studied very carefully. But, at a very high level, if my thesis is correct -- that [enterprises and service providers] are all going to the same place -- then, from our perspective, it's all the same equipment, so we are getting economies of scale, naturally. So what's wrong with that? Why wouldn't we sell a PTX [series packet transport router] to an enterprise who wants it for the same reason that a carrier or a Web 2.0 company wants it?

So the needs of Juniper's service provider and enterprise customers are becoming one in the same?

There are different classes of companies. We've talked about carriers ... with their high-IQ networks and ability to build clouds; you've got Web services companies, which are obviously the cloud providers; then you have cable companies, who are building these things for their users and end customers, for example, if they want content-on-demand, it requires this kind of thing; then the fourth category is enterprises, which are beginning to behave like service providers; and then you have the tail end, ... which is traditional enterprises. The first four categories are moving into the same thing, because they all want the same characteristics. ... When I look at [Juniper customers'] buying behaviors from last year, you see carrier equipment that I would have never thought being purchased by enterprises. You had things that we typically think of as being "enterprise" being bought by carriers. Everybody wants big, tall firewalls that can't go down, and everybody wants a controller and everybody wants automation.

Elliott Management just filed a report, urging Juniper to cut costs, among other changes. How are you responding?

We just got [the report] two days ago. So we are studying the analysis that was done and we are going through it right now.