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Juniper Networks eased restrictions and cut steps from its Easy 8 incentive program for partners this month to encourage sales at the lower end of the market.

Juniper, of Sunnyvale, Calif., opened Easy 8 incentive rewards to deals between $30,000 and $75,000, enticing new partners previously prohibited by deal size and encouraging sales of solutions that otherwise would have appeared to be a waste of time compared with the larger deals (more than $75,000), said Frank Vitagliano, Juniper’s vice president of worldwide channels & U.S. Enterprise Operations.

Partners will now earn up to four points for deals greater than $30,000 and eight points on deals more than $75,000. Previously Juniper offered only the eight-point incentive.

“We’re creating more opportunities in the smaller deals and hopefully increasing the velocity in terms of the amount of times we go to bat,” Vitagliano said.

Easy 8 was designed to motivate partners to penetrate new accounts or drive incremental business in current lackluster accounts, but the program was too rigid to be fully attractive to partners and “missed its mark,” Vitagliano said.

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The enhancements, announced earlier this month to partners, are designed to increase usage of the program by 50 percent and double the amount of revenue going through Easy 8 from $6 million annually, Juniper officials said.

Other changes included opening the program to accounts with Juniper activity in the last six months, if they are for a new technology—such as application acceleration instead of firewall—or at a new location, such as a branch office. Juniper also is no longer requiring that a Juniper TAM (Territory Account Manager) meet with a user before moving forward.

The program is open only to Juniper’s 150 Elite and 150 select partners, company officials said.

The program changes coincide with the Oct. 2 release of three new security appliances that add unified threat management tools to Juniper’s existing hardware in an effort to market the gateway devices to branch offices and other remote enterprise operations.

The three new products, added to Juniper’s SSG (Secure Services Gateway) appliance lineup, specifically promise to offer more comprehensive filtering capabilities for blocking malware and other threats from infiltrating or traveling over corporate networks running between central operations and distributed operations such as branch offices.

The devices all offer a built-in firewall and VPN, along with anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, Web filtering and intrusion protection features. The integration between the tools is one of the most important benefits of the new products, according to the company.