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Almost a year to the date that Juniper Networks announced a shakeup of its executive ranks, the networking company has appointed former Macromedia CEO Stephen Elop as its new chief operating officer.

Elop, who until early December had been Adobe’s president of worldwide field operations following Macromedia’s merger with Adobe, will report directly to Juniper’s Chairman and CEO Scott Kriens.

Among his tasks, Elop is charged with bringing more attention to building Juniper’s enterprise channel, which was not a priority under previous executives, sources said.

Last January Juniper saw the departure of several high-level executives, including Jim Dolce, executive vice president of worldwide field operations, and Carol Mills, executive vice president of Juniper’s infrastructure products group. At that time Juniper announced several promotions, including the appointment of Eddie Minshull to executive vice president of worldwide field operations and Jeff Lindholm to chief marketing officer. Lindholm left the company last month, and Juniper is actively searching for his replacement, according to Tina Stewart, senior director of marketing at Juniper, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

As COO at Juniper, Elop will oversee the enterprise and service provider business teams, as well as the corporate development, global sales and service, marketing, and IT organizations. Reporting to him will be Minshull; Spencer Greene, vice president of business development; Alan Boehme, CIO; Kim Perdikou, executive vice president of the Infrastructure Products Group and general manager of the Service Provider Business Team; and Rob Sturgeon, general manager for Juniper’s Security Products and Enterprise Groups.

Elop will be charged with bringing “better focus and execution” to Juniper, according to Stewart. “He’s very strong on operations and is very intensive in that role,” she said. “He has a strong bias to align the organization and priorities to have operational excellence for the organization. He helped facilitate the [Adobe] acquisition of Macromedia and the seamless integration of their product suites.”

To read more about the Adobe/Macromedia integration, click here.

Kriens will continue to be responsible for business results, strategy, communication and talent development at Juniper.

Elop will be the first COO Juniper has had in several years. As the company continued to grow, the position became a necessary element of its executive team, believes Joe Skorupa, industry analyst with Gartner in Fremont, Calif.

“As companies get larger, it’s impossible for someone to wear both the CEO and COO hat. If you’re doing very heavy travel, there’s no one minding the store. You need someone focused on making things happen on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

One challenge for Juniper is to continue to build its enterprise channel, which was not a priority under Dolce, believes Skorupa. “It’s tough to go from a service provider business to the enterprise. It’s radically different, and it remains a challenge for Scott. It sounds like [Elop] understands the channel, and that’s important,” he said.

With Elop’s experience as both a COO and CEO, Skorupa believes it’s possible that he was chosen with the thought of being an eventual successor to CEO Kriens. But Steward denied there is a plan of succession.

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