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Juniper calls its future—the future of its customers and partners—”The New
Network.” In bright, front-lit letters across the lawn of the Arizona Biltmore
at last week’s Americas Partner Conference, the No. 2 infrastructure company
spelled out these three words to signify the solidifying theme of its next

Frankly, to hear CEO Kevin Johnson and
other executives tell partners about the network as a platform comes as no
surprise. Cisco Systems has been talking about the network as a platform
concept for nearly five years. The logic is simple: Since data and applications
must traverse the pipes of the data center, LAN
and Internet, then it becomes the foundation for building everything else.

Juniper’s new twist on this concept is its pervasive operating system,
Junos. An open system that’s adaptable for integration with other applications
and infrastructure technologies, Junos is the foundation of “The New Network.”
Juniper touts its single code base as the means through which it can deliver
easily managed and high-performance networks on-premises, in the virtualized
world and through the cloud. As Johnson said in his keynote address, “The
secret to innovation is a common language.”

No longer content to play in the enterprise and carrier switches, Juniper is
bringing all of its weapons to bear on growing revenues and market share at the
expense of its chief rival, Cisco, and secondary competitors such as Brocade,
Foundary and HP on the networking side and Check Point, McAfee and
Fortinet on the security side. The utopian vision calls for beefing up field
partner support resources, providing more technical support for partners so
they can sell across the portfolio and adding application developers to the
channel mix.

Yes, you read that last item correctly: application developers. “The New
Network,” as Juniper describes it, is flat. With the single code base provided
by Junos and its sister applications—Junos Space for management and Junos Pulse
for endpoint/client management—Juniper believes it can deliver a virtualized
network in which numerous assets appear as one from a management perspective.
From an operational perspective, the network will be optimized for high
performance that gives enterprises greater levels of availability and
reliability, and users a better experience. The vision and available technology
Juniper presents makes a compelling value proposition for what the
next-generation network should be.

For partners, “The New Network” opens many opportunities. As Andy Zupsic,
Juniper’s senior vice president of Americas Enterprise Sales, told the gathered
J-Partners, “We don’t want to just sell a router or switch. We want to sell a
portfolio that adds value that drives the customer business.” In other words,
they want more attached sales and adjacency technology selling. For instance,
Juniper noted that many of its pure-play security partners and integrators are
realizing tremendous growth by expanding their focus to include networking
equipment and application acceleration solutions.

It’s rather funny to hear a hardware company the likes of Juniper talk about
the need to add application developers to its channel ranks. It’s even funnier
to hear Juniper talk about the opportunities for its existing partners in
developing applications built on the Junos foundation. Of course, I don’t mean
funny in a negative sense, but rather how turning on a development community is
easier said than done.

While more than one-half of Juniper’s employees are application developers
and engaged in research and development, networking and infrastructure
companies aren’t necessarily known for supporting application development. That
job is typically relegated to the software community, which often sticks to
open standards to maximize the potential market for their wares. Further,
Juniper’s traditional partners are resellers and integrators; some have
capabilities for customizing applications, but building a practice around
application development will take investment that many don’t currently have
resources to support. 

Juniper’s executive team welcomed developers to its community with
statements such as, “The network is open for innovation and is open for
business.” However, other Juniper executives privately acknowledged that the
company needs to develop a new set of mechanisms and support for its ISV
and application developers it wants to attract.

Further, there are growing questions about how Juniper will manage its
increasingly diverse community of partners. Adding ISVs and application developers
is one thing, but Juniper is showing an increasing reliance on telecom
carriers, large service providers and its OEM alliance vendors for high-value
revenue streams. That has some midlevel integrators questioning how Juniper
will balance the needs and demands of large partners such as Verizon with the
needs of comparatively smaller partners. Juniper’s stock answer is that
partners should play to their strengths and market segments, but that language
doesn’t sit well with everyone.

As the Enterprise Strategy Group’s Jon Olstik noted, Juniper is a company
firmly rooted in its engineering legacy and rarely steps out to make visionary
statements. I tend to agree with Olstik that “The New Network” is a tremendous
vision with great potential. However, it is a vision that’s still unfolding,
and several Juniper executives noted during their presentations and breakout
discussions that much of the technology needed to fulfill the vision is still
to come. No doubt Juniper will deliver on its promises. What will be
interesting is how Juniper progresses in this journey and how it brings
existing and future partners into the fold.

is a vice president and market expert specializing in security
and channels at Ziff Davis
His blog,
Secure Channel,
follows security technologies, vendors and trends in the channel. You can reach
him at;
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