Juniper Channel Program Changes Reflect Industry Growth Areas

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The networking and security company is creating three partner specialties that it says reflects the way customers want to buy its products.

Juniper Networks is following the money.

After three-plus years of good marks with its pure-vanilla J-Partner program, Juniper is adding areas of specialisation that reflect where its channel partners are migrating.

The networking vendor this week added partner specialisation programs aimed at the managed services, consulting and service provider sectors, in response to partners who are specialising in those areas, said Frank Vitagliano, senior vice president of worldwide channels at Juniper.

“These categories are in areas where our partners are focused on and our products were being sold into, but we didn’t have formal programs to acknowledge them,” he said. “These programs reflect our understanding that partners are building business practices on things like managed services and so it was important for us to recognise that.”

The Managed Service Provider program acknowledges partners for their expertise in delivering both network- and customer premise-based managed security and networking solutions that can speed deployment of mission-critical infrastructure and applications, according to the company. Partners can develop their own managed service offerings on Juniper Networks products, bring those offers to market, and provide ongoing support.

The Consultants program, meanwhile, recognises those partners who influence buying decisions within a company but don’t take part in the purchasing process. Consultants becoming J-Partner authorised consultants have access to information about Juniper’s enterprise and service provider solutions, and will be privy to consultant-focused events, webinars and information forums, which will begin in the second half of 2009, according to Juniper.

Finally, the Service Provider Infrastructure program, formerly part of the core J-Partner Solution Provider program, speaks to those partners who design and deploy high-performance networking solutions for service providers. The program provides these channel partners with solutions materials, sales tools and marketing support that are specific to the service provider sector.

Through these new specialisations, “we are responding to how [channel partners’] customers are now asking to acquire technologies,” said Steve Pataky, vice president of worldwide channel development and programs at Juniper. “We need to make sure our product aligns with that.”

Juniper also created a series of product and services specialisations to help channel partners better align their areas of expertise with the right products, Vitagliano said. Advanced Security, Network Infrastructure and Advanced Network Infrastructure make up the product specialisations, while the services specialisations are made up of Design, Implement and Operate.

“We put the products into primary categories that are consistent with how we believe partners go to market and consolidated the different certifications that we have into three buckets,” Vitagliano said. “Additionally, we revised our training and found ways to help partners get trained and drive additional value in the marketplace, especially in the area of TCO.”

Vitagliano pointed to a Forrester study released this week, which reports that companies with networks running Juniper’s JUNOS software and Juniper switches and routers achieved a 41 percent reduction in operational costs for specific network operations tasks over networks not running Juniper software and hardware.

“The economy is forcing more companies to look at their TCO,” Pataky said. “Regardless of economic times, CIOs in companies with high-performance computing needs will have to spend the money on their network. But for other companies, you have to push the TCO.”

Having a knowledgeable channel partner ecosystem goes a long way to achieving that TCO, Vitagliano said.

“We are pretty focused on preserving our investments so we can continue to innovate, and in the partner community that’s very important,” he said. “We are committed to continue our investment in the channel. [These initiative] will help us drive joint opportunities between us and our partners.”

“As a J-Partner, we have access to the right people, technology, resources, specialisations and support needed to compete effectively and win against other competitors,” said Chris Becerra, co-founder and vice president, Terrapin Systems, San Jose, Calif.

Juniper is taking its relationship even further into the channel through a new competitive bid program in which Elite JPartners will have the opportunity to bid on customer projects brought to them by Juniper.

The Demand More program was launched to react to competitive proposals, Vitagliano said. “When we receive an opportunity from a customer to submit a competitive bid, we can provide a bid that will be less than the existing bid, pull a channel partner into the process, and provide that customer with a new bid. It’s an aggressive way for us to continue to operate in this marketplace while continuing to invest in the channel.”

The brand new program currently includes about 20 Elite JPartners, and Vitagliano envisions more will take part as the program takes root.

“We looked at partners in each market that we currently have excellent relationships with, who are trained, certified and authorised in products and have advanced network infrastructure certification. The goal was to find opportunities, bring in partner and turn around a proposal in a relatively short time frame,” he said. “I imagine we’ll end up with many more partners in this program over time.”