Meet the channel manager: Juniper Networks

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Meet the channel manager: Juniper Networks
Mike Zutenis

With a significant part of his 30-year tech career spent running channel programs, Mike Zutenis chats to CRN about his vision for Juniper Networks partners.

Journey

I just looked at the calendar and realised that I did 30 years in the industry. I started out in 1986 as a graduate engineer in what was then Telecom, now Telstra. I cut my teeth on engineering projects, such as ISDN, intelligent networks and CustomNet.

After eight years at Telecom I moved to Nortel. Nortel was at the time about 100,000 employees and I had a long 13-year stint. It was a great company. I went through diverse roles in project management, product management, service provider sales and then channel sales. That's what got me interested in Juniper.

In 2007 I joined Juniper to manage the southern region channels. At the start of 2014, I took up the partner director role.

Community

We have three partner levels. 'Elite' is our top level partner, 'select' is mid-level and 'reseller' is our base level. Within Australia we have around a dozen elite partners, with a mix of global and Australian companies. Avnet and Westcon are our distributors, both with the full catalogue.

We also have the Champions Program, where Juniper systems engineers peer with partner systems engineers, and they form this community. We find that we get really, really close to our partners in that sense. At our technical summits, our partner engineers are hearing the same information at the same time as our own engineers.

Three pillars

Our program is built on three business pillars: ease of doing business, focus on next-generation, high-growth areas and partner profitability. Progressively we have refined the program over the years to make it really easier to do business with Juniper. We've got a focus in high growth areas like cloud, SDN, security and data centre. And we're very strong around MDF incentives and rebates that really drive partner profitability. These are the three pillars that any channel executive in Juniper will talk about.

Services

We have quite a strong services focus within the program. Partners' ability to make profits is heavily driven by services, so we do a lot of enablement around that. We do have some of our own services, but not ever in competition with our partners – it's about enabling our partners to do those services. We have, for example, a professional services marketplace where people can see what offerings our partners are taking to market.

Moving into the software world

You've got a shift from traditional 'sell the box' to really step up and help customers with that transformation journey. Part of the Juniper program is to actually give the partners those tools around how we've evolved some of our specialisations. For example, cloud specialisation, data centre specialisation and so on.

Events

We have a number of events but there is an annual global event called Ideas Connected, usually in the US. We think it is pretty special because Juniper and the partners go to the conference together. It's collaboration: Juniper and partners together are solving problems as opposed to just Juniper or just the partners.

We hold an annual advisory board meeting in Asia-Pacific and that's more of a two-way dialogue. We collect lots of feedback on our programs and products from partners. Plus we have an annual partner conference.

Lessons learned

Firstly, integrity and consistency: if a partner wants to do a certain deal with you or requests support for a deal, you have to behave consistently the next time he comes along. Secondly, really understand how partners make money. That may not always be the same thing as the vendor wants.

Resume

Jan 2014 – now ANZ area partner director, Juniper Networks

2007-2013 Various roles, Juniper Networks

1997-2007 Channel manager and other roles, Nortel

1986-1994 Principal engineer, Telstra

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