Juniper Channel Leader Rosenberg On Pulling Partners Into The Cloud, And Refusing To 'Play For Second Place' In Battle With Cisco, HPE Aruba

Teaching Moment

Juniper Networks Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances Brian Rosenberg is lighting a fire under the Sunnyvale, Calif., vendor's channel partners as the company seeks to deepen its presence in the cloud market and the data center.

The company is set to launched a revamped channel program Jan. 1, and Rosenberg says partners have so far been receptive to the program's aggressive new emphasis on cloud and data center solutions. Still, making the most of the revenue opportunities Juniper is stressing requires some partners to make significant changes to the way they do business.

Juniper, Rosenberg said, must "make sure we've got partners teaching us something new, taking us into new places, leveraging relationships and the capabilities they have, [and] leveraging a broader portfolio of solutions that branch out beyond networking to solve a business problem for customers, not just a technology problem."

Increasingly, those problems are being solved at the edge of the network, and Rosenberg said partners have a huge opportunity there to transition from traditional sales models to one that relies on recurring revenue and services around automation.

Do you think most of your partners are ready to transition to the cloud today?

This was a big topic for me at our partner conference, talking about the need to make this transition. We've spent a lot of time informing where we think the industry is going. In my last slide, I showed a bridge out into the fog, and I said, 'I think we're about a quarter of the way across. I see a few [partners] on the bridge some steps ahead. I see a few on the bridge a few steps behind. I see a bunch of you standing on the shore wondering what we're doing, and I see a few of you who have lashed yourselves to trees in case you're tempted to walk out on that bridge.' I think that's kind of where we are.

How do you see the market developing as the cloud takes hold? Do you see Juniper taking share from Cisco, or from HPE Aruba?

The innovation at Juniper I've never seen stronger. Where we are focused, we're not focused to play for second place. I feel real good about where we are in WAN and routing, data center edge. Those are very strong points for Juniper, and we see that from an innovation standpoint. We don't think anyone has the will to put what we're putting into that business. Switching is crowded. We're very focused on high-performance data center and making sure that we've got the automation built in and open interfaces so folks can do what they need to do. We know the competitors, but we feel good about the things we need to do to continue super-strong growth in data center and data center switching. Security is a comeback story for us. We've slipped in security. We've been open-eyed about why we've slipped in security. We believe we've taking the steps from a technology standpoint to get back to growth.

Have you seen the results you were hoping to see in security?

The last few quarters we have started to see growth again in security. That's not something that you turn around overnight.

What are the challenges for vendors and partners selling into the edge?

Data center edge, the problems there are that you've got to be fairly feature-rich, and you've got to have incredible port density and you've got to do it at low power. Those are the places we've focused the technology. The products built there have been built with the big, hyper-scale data center players and that's been a tremendous area of growth for us, and it should continue. From a partner standpoint, these are not huge boxes. It's more of a scale-out architecture, so the question is how many of those same boxes do you need? With that, we think the technology we're delivering for the world's largest clouds is the exact technology you need for medium-size clouds, using fewer of them. The partner's ability to combine their services capabilities with a portfolio that includes networking, storage, compute and automation, we think it's a tremendous opportunity for partners, and one that gets them beyond typical resale margins and gets them into a conversation about automation and the services that come with that.

You've revamped your channel program, what should partners expect in the coming year?

We've made a big pivot to focus on specialization, so you have to understand that generalist networking is probably not as fruitful a spot for partners going forward as it has been in the past. We're putting programs in place, along with training, rebate incentives, MDF, to help them make that pivot into either a cloud specialization or into a data center specialization to both help them grow their businesses in the places where we're investing the most.

How has the change been received in the early going?

We'll launch officially Jan. 1, but so far it's been pretty strong. As we did it, we removed some of the qualification steps they have to go through and really are putting much richer programs in place where we want to see growth: Security, data center build-outs, and also we're being really aggressive in terms of selling our assets that live in the cloud, so virtual firewalls, virtual routers. We know it's critical for enterprises that they have partners that are securely connecting them into the cloud. So we're making sure that as our partners are helping their customers the best way, they're encouraged to help Juniper at the same time.

What do you need your partners to do in order for Juniper to gain traction in the cloud market?

If you look at the Juniper corporate strategy and how we align our investments in R&D all the way through go-to-market and marketing, it's all around four pillars: Cloud, cloud, cloud and cloud. We've got a leadership position in building the most scalable clouds on the planet with most of the big brand names in public cloud. We have to make sure we connect those clouds with high-performance, low-TCO WAN interconnection services. We've got to help our service providers on their transformation to the cloud, and that's a lot about SDN, about our cloud CPE solutions. We know that over time, more and more of our technology is going to be consumed via a cloud model, much more utility-type payment. You'll see increased investment from us to put our technology in the cloud and then for us to monetize in the cloud.

What's the best way for partners to navigate those priorities?

Each of those pillars have a bit of a different need from a partner capabilities and partner relationship standpoint. Our specializations are designed to roughly map into that. For hyper-scale data centers, we've got that. We can build the biggest in the world. From a partner standpoint, we need that to come down-market. The technology is the same. We need to make sure we have partners who are able to go work with a large enterprise to make sure they're applying those same technologies and bring down the benefits into their organizations. In the WAN part, connecting clouds, there are a lot of partners that are really capable of doing that. That's traditionally a pretty high-touch business for Juniper. Increasingly, it's banks, universities that are the ones building their own private wide-area networks to be able to manage that.

And you're relying on partners to extend your reach into those growth areas?

The reach partners give us there is critical. Service provider transformation is a really hard problem to solve. It's not so much a networking technology problem, it's a back office problem and legacy of hundreds of OSS, BSS systems that were built going back to the '70s that have to come forward. The types of partners you need there are much more of the big systems integrators. In terms of getting to SaaS models, it's partners who work with enterprises on 'I've got an application I want to move to AWS,' and how I make sure that as I move that I take advantage of Juniper's virtual SRX, high-performance virtual firewall to make sure I can extend my private cloud in to the public cloud and do it in a way that's both secure and easy to manage.

Where do you see the SD-WAN market going in the next year?

Our approach has been different than many in that we think the SD-WAN play is a large service provider play and a part of service provider transformation. The way we're designed is to put the power in the hands of the service providers and make sure they have something to leverage with their sales force. At this point, we've got eight of the top names that you would want as SD-WAN customers from an SP standpoint.

What do you need from partners that you aren't getting today?

It's hard to paint with a broad brush, but what we appreciate [is] partners who are going to teach us something new or take us someplace new. A big part of changing our program to focus on specializations was to be more clear about where those areas are that we're most interested in and make sure we're rewarding in those spaces. What's difficult for us is in places where we have high-touch sales, maybe several people calling on an account. A partner's value in that situation changes versus a territory where we've got two guys running across the state. So we're trying to recognize the difference between those two and make sure we've got partners teaching us something new, taking us into new places, leveraging relationships and the capabilities they have, leveraging a broader portfolio of solutions that branch out beyond networking to solve a business problem for a customer, not just a technology problem.