Juniper Updates Channel Program To Help Partners Flex AI-Native Networking Muscle

Juniper Networks has revamped its well-known partner program with a specific emphasis on AI and managed networking services, Gordon Mackintosh, Juniper’s global channel chief, told CRN.

“As with everything with AI, the proliferation of it is moving beyond hyper speed so we’re pretty aggressive in terms of our expectations,” Mackintosh said. “We have so much differentiation at the customer level with native AI, and now we’re taking that same differentiation to the partner’s business model so they can use all of the advantages of AI-native networking to deliver solutions in a highly profitable way.”

The new elements of the Juniper Partner Advantage (JPA) Program will help partners take advantage of AIOps so they can bring managed networking services to their customers. This means new revenue opportunities for partners and a consistent, experience-first approach to networking for their customers, he said.

Juniper has seen a sizable uptick in its business through the channel over the last year, which has contributed substantially to the company’s growth, Mackintosh said. Partner-initiated sales were up 33 percent year over year in 2023., and partner deal registration contribution to the overall business has doubled over the last three years, according to Mackintosh (pictured).

“We have great momentum and new technology that I think can really be a true game-changer for partners,” he said.ADVERTISEMENT

[Related: HPE/Juniper Acquisition Could ‘Be Bigger Than HPE Is Imagining’ Says Partners]

Juniper’s expansion of AI across its entire portfolio—Wi-Fi, switching and data center—is resonating with partners who are looking for a technology vendor on the cutting edge, Mackintosh said. That’s because their customers want to do more with AI and generative AI capabilities within their networks, he said.

Meanwhile, the deal for Juniper to be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $14 billion is expected to boost competition with networking market heavyweight Cisco and further HPE’s AI-native networking focus. The tie-up between the two companies is expected to close at the end of calendar year 2024 or the beginning of 2025.

The combination, said Mackintosh, will be a disruptive growth play.

“With a great valuation of $14 billion, [partners] are excited that it’s going to bring a lot of scale to Juniper technology and the solutions,” he said. “It’s creating a lot of hype and excitement and really bringing Juniper to the surface.”

JPA Program Updates

The JPA Program updates are aimed at helping partners accelerate further into managed services, Mackintosh said. The first addition is partner-managed networking.

“Partner-managed networking is really the capabilities for [partners] to have more agility, faster time to deploy the network and more SLAs that they can deliver to customers to create better customer experiences, all at a lower cost,” he said. “We’re taking the homegrown, native AI offering and allowing partners to benefit from it in terms of how they operate the network to deliver significantly higher levels of customer satisfaction.”

Juniper’s MSP designation saw 44 percent growth in the number of partners receiving the designation last year, the company said.

Juniper is also rolling out a new Partner Assured designation to provide partners who have rich Juniper practices with third-party validation from Information Security Systems International (ISSI), a company that audits MSPs’ capabilities across the customer life cycle, the company said.

The Juniper Partner Assured designation will help to boost partner profitability, Mackintosh said.

Juniper is keeping simplicity in mind for partners with its new Deal Central Dashboard, a tool that consolidates Juniper partner deals, quotes and marketing leads while boiling down deal registration so that partners can respond in two hours or less for 80 percent of commercial deals and six hours or less for strategic deals of less than $250,000, the company said.

Other JPA Program updates include a new Advisor designation that rewards partners for influencing customer decisions and optimizing customer success, recognition for partners’ vertical expertise and vertical go-to-market motions, and an Enriched Partner GTM Engagement program that offers account mapping, GTM concierge services, investment, and dedicated planning through the entire customer life cycle.

“We’re at the beginning of something phenomenal in my opinion. Our partners have made a lot of investments in our technology and are perfectly positioned now to take advantage of this next wave in networking,” he said.

Juniper has seen 20 percent sales growth year over year for the partners that have invested in three or more Juniper specializations, the company said.

The JPA Program also is underscoring the importance of environmental sustainability by recognizing the partners that are driving sustainable outcomes, Mackintosh said. The motion will encourage partners and customers to reach climate goals, such as decarbonization, addition of sustainable technology, and reducing and recycling of waste.

“This is really something our partners have been asking for,” Mackintosh said. “[Sustainability], like driving more automation and agility in the network, are top of mind for customers.”

Juniper last week brought on Hope Galley, a longtime Cisco global sales leader, as its Americas channel chief, a new role at the company. Galley will report to Mackintosh.

“We’re really happy to have [Galley] on board,” Mackintosh said. “When you have an opportunity like this ahead for both Juniper and for the partners, it’s really important to get the best people in, and we’ve done that with [Galley] and her experience. We’re all about speed and scale right now because the opportunities are so great.”

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