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Juniper Bets Big on Software Defined Networks, Partners

Juniper Networks used its partner conference in Las Vegas this week to make two big, public bets. One is to realign the company's products around Software Defined Networks (SDN). The other is to go deeper with the channel.

"SDN is a major shift in the networking industry. At Juniper, we think the impact of SDN will be much broader than others have suggested. It will redefine networking and create new winners and losers," Bob Muglia, executive vice president of the Software Solutions Division at Juniper, said in a statement. Muglia, who like many on Juniper's executive management team was a longtime Microsoft executive, also detailed Juniper's vision for SDN in a whitepaper-like blog post this week.

In concrete terms, Juniper plans to take several steps through 2013 to realign its products around SDN. Much of it involves the separation of networking software into new layers and realigning management software and hardware to centralize network control. Significantly, Juniper also introduced a software licensing model, called Juniper Software Advantage, which will allow for Juniper's networking software to be virtualized and moved back and forth between networking devices and x86 servers. Juniper says the program will also allow customers to calibrate their purchases to actual usage for flexibility and cost savings.

On the partner side, Juniper is doubling down on the major investments the company made a year ago to beef up its channel presence. Last January, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking company launched Juniper Partner Advantage, which included partner segmentation, financial incentives, sales resources and marketing investments.

Juniper is expanding Partner Advantage throughout 2013 with the addition of services and cloud solutions, which the company describes as "incremental" opportunities for its 12,000 partners.

Partner Advantage Services has two specializations, Partner Support Services and Partner Professional Services. The support piece focuses on support and maintenance services and will be enhanced later in the year with troubleshooting workshops in four areas -- service provider routing, enterprise routing, enterprise switching and security. On the professional services side, Juniper will be sharing internally developed best practices with partners to help them gain expertise and establish authority. In a statement describing the professional services specialization, the company said, "Juniper Networks is building a deliberate dependence on its partners to deliver these services while helping generate more revenue per engagement and grow profit for partners."

Partner Advantage Cloud covers a newer area and is less prescriptive. According to Juniper, partners in cloud solutions will be developing unique cloud-based solutions to meet customers' needs, supported by Juniper's internal resources along with technology partnerships and marketing development funds from a new Juniper Cloud Innovation Fund.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 15, 2013 at 11:58 AM