Juniper enlists partners to take down Cisco

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Juniper enlists partners to take down Cisco

Juniper Networks spared no expense for its inaugural global partner conference in Las Vegas this week, pulling out all the stops for its keynote address yesterday complete with live rock musicians, light shows and a presentation screen the size of two tennis courts.

Company CEO Kevin Johnson outlined an aggressive channel strategy to go after major rivals in the key markets of cloud and data centres, mobility and security.

“We are undertaking a total refresh of our partner program.”

The Juniper Partner Program has been renamed Juniper Partner Advantage and according to Juniper’s vice president of channel development Steve Pataky has been redesigned to more closely reflect the company’s various core product segments.

Under the three new banners of Reach, Accelerate and Reward Juniper’s refreshed channel program would seek to improve communications with partners, improve access to co-marketing, training, certification and finance resources as well as deliver the company’s first global rebate structure. With regard to the latter Pataky said Juniper was still “working on the math” but expected to have more details later in the year.

The story that Juniper is trying to sell to the market and its partner community is that it is the heir apparent to Cisco, a company whose technology Juniper openly dismisses. Throughout his keynote address, Johnson avoided mentioning Cisco, instead referring to Juniper as the alternative to "legacy" technology, which most delegates would have taken to mean Cisco technology

Juniper is a name that Cisco CEO John Chambers is possibly tired of hearing about, last year telling a group of financial analysts and journalists that the market leader would “kill” its smaller rival which he accused of having lost its way.

In another apparent dig at Cisco, Johnson emphasised Juniper’s history of organic growth as opposed to that by acquisition, highlighting high levels of complexity which has emerged in the market, especially over the past two to three years during he estimated some 200 network companies had been acquired.

Johnson explained that especially with the rise of cloud computing and virtualisation, the flood of mobile devices and apps in addition to more complex security challenges emerging over the past five years, the industry had reached a crucial “inflection point” which Juniper was uniquely position to take advantage of. 

“There has been a seismic shift over the last five years.”

Central to the Juniper message is what the company refers to as QFabric, or “QFab” as Johnson referred to it while on stage. In short, this is the name Juniper gives for its complete network architecture, all glued together by the company’s Junos operating system. 

Juniper has significantly increased its investment in software over the past year. Three months ago it hired former Microsoft executive Bob Muglia to be its vice president of software. The company now boasts around 700 organisations using the Junos software development kit (SDK).

Muglia explained that Junos was already playing a key role in growing Juniper’s reputation and market share at both the core and the edge of the network as well as in the key areas of data centre management and support, BYO device management and the campus and branch level. 

Johnson said that cloud and mobility were two markets where Juniper saw the most opportunity over the next few years and told the company’s partners in attendance that no other vendor could offer them the same breadth and quality of solutions.

He also highlighted Juniper’s key vendor partnerships including with IBM for the cloud and with Samsung on mobile device management and security.

Johnson conceded however that Juniper had made mistakes in its dealings with the channel but that it was working hard to collect and act on feedback to improve on core programs. For instance, this week in Las Vegas Juniper affirmed its commitment to partner incentives announcing new rebate and other programs.

David Binning attended the partner conference as a guest of Juniper.

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