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Amid Channel Growth, Juniper Networks Launches Network-as-a-Service Capability

Approximately 120 MSPs have joined the managed services program Juniper launched in March.

James Anderson

August 23, 2022

5 Min Read
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Juniper Networks has upgraded its AIOps platform with network-as-a-service enhancements that executives say represent a growing investment in channel partners.

The networking provider made three key updates to its campus and branch-focused portfolio that it calls “AI-driven enterprise.” First, it has brought the management of wired, wireless and SD-WAN networking into a unified portal where customers and partners can access AI insights. Juniper gets those AI capabilities from Mist Systems, which it bought in 2019.

Second, Juniper has made its licensing management more simple and flexible. According to the company, partners and customers can now access all of the licenses in a single location.

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Juniper Networks’ Jeff Aaron

“If a partner deployed your 500 licenses [in the past], each license was tied to an access point or switch,” said Jeff Aaron, Juniper’s vice president of enterprise marketing. “But now they have the ability to move licenses around across their own portfolio, across different portfolios as they see fit.”

Third, Juniper launched new managed services payment options through Juniper Financial Services. Partners can also now subscribe to the portfolio on a monthly basis rather than one-, three- or five-year licenses.

A Service-Based Channel

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Juniper Networks’ Gordon Mackintosh

Gordon Mackintosh, group vice president of global channels and virtual sales, said the updates reflect the movement the partner community is making away from focusing on pre-sale and break-fix services to automated managed services.

“We’re seeing partners starting to invest in DevOps teams to really tinker and optimize that customer experience. And from a partner perspective, there’s way more profitability in that. And there’s way more customer satisfaction, because ultimately they can really fine tune the network and the experience to exactly what the customer is trying to achieve,” Mackintosh told Channel Futures.

He said an AI-driven, multitenant managed service platform can help partners provide the value customers want.

“Customers are looking for very specific outcomes that they can deliver to the business through the network. This announcement is the biggest capability that we can bring in terms of unlocking that for our partner community,” he said.

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The AI-driven enterprise portfolio has already been seeing growth. The 650 Group honored the Juniper Mist unit for achieving the highest year-over-year revenue growth in enterprise and outdoor wireless LAN (WLAN)  – 117% – compared to rival (WLAN) providers. And partners are playing a big role in the growth. Partner-driven business for the unit grew 81% year-over-year in the second quarter.

Channel Growth

Mackintosh, who joined Juniper from Extreme Networks more than two years ago, said the channel has been growing in general for the vendor. He said the company has brought on 480 new transacting partners in the last year. He attributed the growth to a few factors.

Approximately 120 MSPs have joined Juniper’s recently launched Unified Managed Services Program (UMSP) in the last year. In addition, partners associated with Wi-Fi, wired and cybersecurity are growing their engagement with Juniper.

“We’re seeing interest from a broader channel base than ever before,” he said.

In addition, the legacy partners are selling more. One hundred fifty of the previously existing partners are investing in …

… Juniper’s AI-Driven Enterprise specialization. Deal registration for the Mist business has grown 51% year-over-year.

“They weren’t specialized in this business before. Now they’ve invested in it, and they’re capitalizing on the momentum as well,” Mackintosh said.

The rebates Juniper is making available to partners are helping to drive partner adoption. Juniper’s program allows partners to earn up to 22% in backend rebates.

“They know if they bring us an opportunity and they’re specialized in AI-driven enterprise, the outcome on the back end rebate is going to be significant,” he said.

Diversity Program

Juniper this month unveiled its Juniper Diversity+ Partner Program. The initiative spotlights minority-owned partners that transact with Juniper. Those firms get an enhanced profile in the Juniper Partner Locator and access to special executive mentorship.

Mackintosh said the topic of diversity and inclusion has gained more attention at industry events and within Juniper. But he said his team wanted to see those conversations move into the partner community.

“There’s no point in my team having a diverse culture as part of our strategy if we can’t extend that out into the partner base as well,” he said.

The Balance of Partner-First

Mackintosh also said partners are voting with their feet on which networking vendors are doing the best job of channel integration.

“Some of our key competitors have a less partner-friendly strategy than Juniper right now. In our enterprise space, I think we’re almost 100% through partners, which is pretty unique,” he said.

That stems in part from where Juniper stands in market share.

“We see [partners] as a way to scale the business, because we still have relatively low market share, whereas some of our competitors have have stronger market share positions,” Mackintosh said.

However, he said Juniper wants to avoid becoming “over-distributed.”

“We’re very selective around who we bring on. We want good, strong partners that can take us to new customers, not cannibalize existing partner revenue. We want to keep this highly profitable with a partner first mentality,” he said.

Supply Chain

Mackintosh and Aaron fielded questions about how the supply chain has impacted Juniper and its partners and customers.

Cisco partners recently told Channel Futures that increased hardware delays are leading customers to change their vendor selection. Aaron said that supply chain issues didn’t factor much into the growing adoption of Juniper’s AI-driven enterprise portfolio. However, he said he sees shipping delays hitting rivals like Cisco and HP much harder.

“We have been fortunate that at least on AI-driven enterprise, I don’t think we’ve been hit by supply issues as badly as some of the competition, especially in the wireless domain. But a lot of this is due to the fact that our solution is just unique with the cloud and the AI, and there is a strong shift to the cloud,” Aaron said.

Mackintosh said customer opportunities often start with Wi-Fi. From there, he said partners have been able to incorporate the Mist-based AI capabilities.

“From there, we tend to typically naturally extend into the switching and infrastructure, and then on to SD-WAN,” he said.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email James Anderson or connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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