Juniper is evangelizing channel network to ride digital: Matt Hurley

By Yogesh Gupta Mar 30th 2017
Juniper is evangelizing channel network to ride digital: Matt Hurley

SDN,Cloud and SDSN will be crucial gear of partners’ networking portfolio, says Matthew Hurley, Corporate VP-Global Channels at Juniper Networks.

Juniper Networks integrated field marketing and channel programs teams a couple of years ago to create synergy between marketing and channels.The strategy is working well for the benefit of our channel ecosystem at large says Matthew Hurley, corporate VP-Global Channels at Juniper Networks. ChannelWorld had an extensive interaction with Matt on his India visit for a first-hand update on Juniper’s channel roadmap in the fast changing networking landscape.

Edited Excerpts.

Where is the networking world hinged today, as every tech vendor including Juniper Networks is talking SMAC and digital transformation?

Among the three key pillars of compute, storage and networking, the first two have gone through a massive transformation in many different ways. Even commoditized to an extent. The networking industry is somewhere in the middle of that change and that percolates down to our partners. Networking is perhaps harder to undergo that extent of the transformation because of its underpinning technology. But the industry is changing dramatically with the emergence of cloud players across hybrid, public and private.

We are revamping its path forward as a company and that impacts our channels. Juniper traditionally sells great technology to companies that build networks and we will obviously continue the same in the future. But there is tremendous built out happening in the datacenter space, both as a monolithic large DC as well as the trend of distributed datacenters. Huge opportunities lie ahead with digital cohesion from enterprise and service provider perspective.

We see a world evolving with our traditional business but we also understand the ongoing transformation phase. Security remains paramount in this equation as we have a position in point firewall space and SDSN (Software Defined Security Networks).

There is tremendous built out happening in datacenter space both as a monolithic large DC and distributed datacenters.

What is the maturity index of channel partners globally in terms of adopting new technologies? Does the trend differ in India?

Everyone in the technology industry is feeling the change. Our channels tell us about the traditional hardware business models reeling under pressure and the industry pricing will not help either. The partners making the transition are the ones who understand the hardware world, have the ability to transform with software skills, understand the dynamics of cloud (work with cloud providers like AWS as example) and possess the ability to deliver services. We don’t see the hardware world of networking go away.

Juniper partner program’s uniqueness is the fact that we don’t compete on services with our channels. We enable them to deliver the services – support and professional. We changed few tenants of our partner program about a year ago. Juniper’s two-tier partner program has managed elite partners at the top with high touch model and serving the rest of distribution. We sub-segmented or broke the elite partners’ level into five boxes that includes services only elite partner, cloud partner, services only and others. Now a year after the program was opened to the channel community we see partners settling into those businesses or boxes as per their individual expertise.

Channels transitioning from hardware centric world to cloud is easier said than done. Do you foresee some Tier 2 channels (VARs and SIs) lag behind and perish down the line?

As a large premium tech vendor, we ensure enablement vehicles for partners to bring some of the partners through the chasm. Some will adapt the change while others will perish. Through the series of partner conferences and country-wise  teams, we gauge the partners’ transition journey. Some are locked into hardware centric model with couple of customers. But many partners are approaching us to empower them to adapt to this new world.

Last year we ran over 100 certification trainings for our partners in India including services, forward thinking assessments and other initiatives.

Do vendor companies follow clear rules of engagement in today’s hyper competitive landscape?

We have a defined set of direct accounts on which we are clear with our partners. Partners many times play a role in many cases as sometimes they - fulfil, provide logistic support, deliver services. Outside the clear defined rules of these accounts, everything else is open to the channel community. Multiple partners compete on one of those deals depending on their value add as a firm

Extreme Networks bought Avaya’s data business as a recent example of consolidation. What is the new expectation list from channel in this M&A turmoil in networking domain?

M&A is one of the key indicators of the changing landscape. Large disty Avnet got acquired last year.If change is a set of building blocks that are falling over, someone (vendor) will rebuild those blocks together.The complexity of networking calls for money to be made for the vendors than the change we necessarily saw across storage and compute.

The indication of the changing industry dynamics pushes us to further educate our channels. The contractual thing and its complexities often brings down the partner programs and partner overlap happens. But that’s just a by-product of the big picture of the thriving networking industry.

Does Juniper’s extensive portfolio offer enough opportunities of cross sell and upsell of technologies across organisations?

The primary vehicle from enablement and demand generation perspective for partners is Juniper marketing concierge that goes across the tiers of channels. India is one of the largest users of this service in APAC. Couple for years ago, that tool used to do enablement only.Today the partner can pull one or more from forty four pre packed campaigns wrapped with elements of awareness, enablement and demand generation for channels. Juniper’s true concierge service permits the partner to seek help from our team to build the campaign with social media aspects.

We will soon roll out the digital marketing stack on an analytics platform.This marketing campaign will be launched with new logos over the next quarter.The unified marketing stack will mine the database better for our channels to leverage the cross sell and upsell to a new level and grow their business multi-fold.

The unified marketing stack will mine the database better for our channels to leverage the cross sell and upsell to a new level and grow their business multi-fold.

Hiring a networking specialist is easier and cheaper than a SDN or cloud specialist. How much is too much for partners to build competencies across the entire networking stack?

Globally partners trying to transform themselves are picking up their areas of specialisation. The more successful partners are ones that specialise in particular technology or technologies. Beyond the traditional model, the partner have to specialise in say DevOps or professional series. In this new world it is hard for VAR partners to cover everything across all places. There will be lot of new partners with new skillsets like ‘born in the cloud’ ones as the new competition to these legacy channels. Partners need to pick their sweet spots of specialisation to deliver their unique value proposition than cover the entire chess board.

What about the threat to your long standing channels as Juniper aligns more with new communities like MSP and ISV in digital era?

We have been very loyal to our channel for a long time and our channel has been extremely loyal to us. Our first discussion during session on program and strategy is on how to engage with the managed elite channels to help them move to this next phase. We have invested tremendous amount of focus on those partners in terms of people, money, incentives, rebates, MDF and hence our first natural GTM is through elite partners. If we can’t get those partners to move in that direction, then we fill the gaps through other partner types.

Juniper has a strong legacy across service provider segment. Many service provider have seen business model under pressure from OTT companies. We are working with these partners through different models to help their reach across the enterprise segment. For example a service provider with a cloud offering can leverage Juniper’s disruptive technology to help grow their business.

Finally, when according to you will SDN and SDDC move out of the overhype cycle?

Ignoring the trends of SDN and SDDC is not an option anymore for companies. But the adoption curve is always longer than the earlier expected spin-out. Every large carrier around the globe have transformational program with many being in the deploy phase and almost everybody in the talk phase. There is another dynamics happening with large cloud players like AWS, Google, Azure, Oracle who have to cater to millions of subscribers. The hype curve for SDN and SDDC is surely coming down - unlike other new technologies in the past – to take off rapidly.

Juniper is well positioned in this technology world having dominance in datacentre and a thought leader in SDSN. Besides our traditional business, we see enterprises talk more on digital cohesion with adequate roles for service provider and enterprise partner. SDN will happen sooner than we think. As a channel centric company, it is therefore important for us to help our partners through this transition as we have helped them in the other transitions in the industry.

 

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