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The last week of April was busy for the channel. Cisco Systems was holding
its annual partner conference in San Francisco.
Simultaneously, Hewlett-Packard was in Las Vegas
with its loyal followers. And each was talking up a storm about how they were
going to take the fight to their rival, and that started a buzz that continues
to reverberate through the channel.

Juniper Network was supposed to hold its channel confab that same week,
which would have put it in the direct line of fire of its two larger
competitors. But Juniper decided to shift its event dates to this week in Phoenix,
where invoking some call to action against its two larger rivals is a minor
consideration.

“It’s about the partners, not us,” says Frank Vitagliano, senior vice
president of partners-Americas at Juniper.

In meetings just before the opening reception of the partner conference at
the palatial Arizona Biltmore, Vitagliano was reluctant to engage in brash talk
about either Cisco or HP, preferring instead to talk about the successes of
Juniper and its partners in switches, enterprise networking and security.

“Four years ago when we started this, we set out to build a deal where
partners don’t need to guess where we’re going. They know our road map. And
they know we’re not going to change everything every three months,” he said.

On the Juniper event agenda is plenty of talk about new products, market
opportunities and fresh initiatives to help partners reach new customers.
Juniper will unveil the new Juniper Networks
Learning Academy,
an online training and education resource center that provides partners with
access to information and self-paced training on the technology and market
opportunities. And Juniper will announce the coming formation of Global
Marketing Resource
Center, through which partners will
have access to customizable sales and marketing materials.

From Vitagliano’s perspective, Juniper is differentiated from competitors in
the networking and data center markets by its willingness to partner with other
vendors and be a piece of the larger, integrated solution set built by the
partner. Juniper, he says, isn’t looking to force partners into artificial
constructs, but rather earn a place in their solutions.

“The channel builds the ultimate solution, and those solutions are built
with consulting, design, integration and support pieces. My focus is to be one
of the vendors that get put into their solutions,” Vitagliano says.

Juniper has advised its investors and Wall Street analysts that it plans
growth at 20 percent or better in the coming year. Vitagliano says underlying
Juniper’s plan is remaining relevant to its partners. While the company has
developed vibrant relationships with other vendors such as IBM
and Dell, and carriers such as Verizon, Vitagliano says Juniper needs to do
more to support midmarket partners. Additionally, Juniper plans more general
marketing initiatives to increase brand awareness and purchasing consideration.