Enterprise Plus partners are the vendor's preferred go-to-market partners for AI Access for the network edge.

Lynn Haber

April 29, 2020

5 Min Read
Words Opportunity Ahead on a road

The combined Juniper Networks-Mist Systems portfolio positions the vendor to leapfrog the competition, prompting new channel investments. Just one year into its $405 million acquisition of Mist, Juniper is moving full-speed ahead with its channel strategy. This includes the expected merger of the Juniper and Mist channel partner programs later this year.

Mist’s next-gen, AI solution for cloud-managed wireless networks plugs a critical solution gap in Juniper’s campus networking portfolio, and more. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access infrastructure, published last September, featured Juniper Networks‘ Mist Systems as a visionary.

With the Mist acquisition, Juniper leads with the AI-driven enterprise marketing message. Gordon Mackintosh is the company’s recently appointed vice president of global channels and virtual sales. He is rewarding partners who take that message to market. He discussed the company’s channel strategy with Channel Futures.

Mackintosh Talks Partner Differentiation

Channel Futures: What does the Juniper Networks/Mist Systems channel look like?


Juniper Networks’ Gordon Mackintosh

Gordon Mackintosh: Mist had its own channel and small partner team and program. What’s happened over the last year is tremendous interest from the broader channel, post-acquisition. Seven hundred new partners have signed up and 40 new distributors, globally. The majority of new Mist partners are in the Americas, with some from Europe as well.

Juniper has about 3,000 partners transacting on a quarterly basis. A lot of the newly onboarded Mist partners come from the Juniper partner base. They want to take advantage of the new AI-driven enterprise solution. They’re seeing great differentiation in it. Many were selling security and switching products from Juniper.

CF: Do you plan to merge the separate Juniper and Mist partner programs?

GM: We’re looking to merge the programs this fall and create a new partner program. We want to take the best ingredients of both programs. Mist has a simplistic and effective program. Juniper has a very rich set of rebates and MDF program.

New Investments

CF: What investments has Juniper been making in its partners?

GM: There are 600 new technical resources within the partner community. Three hundred partners are going through deep enablement program. We’ve seen a 240% increase in deal registration as well from a Mist perspective. It’s catching on like wildfire because it’s a simple technology to get enabled for. It is highly differentiated and in high demand.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.

CF: Tell us more about the investments you’ve made in the company’s enterprise strategy. 

GM: We’ve doubled down on the enterprise segment. This acquisition is rocket fuel for those investments. Within my organization we’ve brought in 50 new people this year. They focus on partners and customers through our virtual sales motion. AI-based Mist is fantastic for that kind sales motion because the technology sells itself.

We’ve had different inside sales organizations models in the past, but we’ve built a new virtual sales organization that we’re scaling to 100 people. We call it …

… virtual sales because it’s integrated with digital marketing, sales tools and automation to make it work as seamlessly as possible.

Other investments, I was appointed earlier this year to lead the channel organization and to globalize it. The goal is to bring it all together. We’ve also made investments in our field sales and invested in our new Enterprise Plus partner program.

Enterprise Plus Designation

CF: Let’s talk more about Enterprise Plus, because it’s a strategic move by the company. 

GM: Enterprise Plus is for a select group of partners. We’ve increased MDF, we give partners free training, and we’re driving cooperative selling with our virtual sales organization. This has been very well received by the partners. These are more of our traditional and loyal Juniper partners.

We launched the new designation in the middle of February. To date we have about 70 partners signed up. The Enterprise Plus designated partners are our preferred partners to go to market with in the enterprise space. The program, basically, is a designation within our partner community that our sellers can recognize. These partners are the best sellers to go to market with. All of those partners will lead with AI Access for the network edge.

CF: What qualifies a partner for Enterprise Plus?

GM: Partners have to have two designations. These designations can be any security, data center, switching or new specialization, which is AI Access. They have to sign up for a half-million dollars in incremental target for the year. They have to assign a new salesperson and systems engineer to support Juniper. And, they have to be fully enabled to sell our new AI Access, which is Mist.

We’re investing more in them and they’re investing more in us.

Some of these partners have been more traditionally in the service provider space, the cloud space. We do continue to support them and invest in that. But we’re both interested in growth in the enterprise market, where there is a tremendous opportunity. We’ve invested a lot into the enterprise space. Part of that investment has to do with having this new incredible technology that’s in high demand.

We want the Enterprise Plus partners to be exclusive. We don’t want to become overdistributed, so we’re looking for about 100 partners by later this spring. That’s about 45 partners in the U.S. Currently, we have about 32.

CF: What else can you share about the profile of the Enterprise Plus partner?

GM: We like them to have a strong presence in the enterprise already. That’s selling across our key verticals — health care, education, finance. We want to make sure that the partners have a true pedigree in these segments in the market. And that they have an appetite to lead with our AI Access solution at the edge.

Although it varies by the quarter, the channel drives between 85% and 87% of revenue for Juniper. In our enterprise segment, our channel business is almost 90-95% of the business.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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