Juniper relays margin message to channel

Its entrance into the switching market and the launch of new networking technologies has strengthened Juniper’s resolve in the last year. Now the vendor is urging partners to latch onto the services opportunities in front of them

Tags: Juniper Networks IncorporatedSystems integratorUnited Arab Emirates
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Juniper relays margin message to channel Juniper executives, including EMEA VP Gert-Jan Schenk (far right), outline the networking vendor’s strategy for the region.
By  Andrew Seymour Published  June 2, 2009 Channel Middle East Logo

It might not necessarily be a move motivated by the current climate, but with many corporates thinking twice about investing in new infrastructure, Juniper’s bid to show partners that it can offer them a compelling services opportunity couldn’t be more timely.

The self-styled ‘high performance networking’ vendor recently made a series of enhancements to its J-Partner Programme, including the launch of new specialisations allowing resellers to make more margin from their ability to ‘design, implement and operate’.

At Juniper’s annual partner event in Spain last month, Gert-Jan Schenk, senior VP operations EMEA, hailed the services push as a sign the company is playing ‘offensively’ and said it would give partners the chance to build out their services practice.

“There are two reasons for that,” he told Channel Middle East. “One is that it helps partners to increase their profitability. Secondly, it helps end-users to pick the right partner with the right qualifications, and also successfully roll out the project.”

Juniper admits that the ‘one size fits all’ services specialisation it previously offered failed to adequately reflect the role that partners were playing, but the networking and security hardware maker is confident it now has the right reward mechanisms in place. David Small, VP of channels EMEA at Juniper, insists the programme is suited to both product- and services-focused partners, as well as those who combine an element of both.

“I think that as the market is changing, the partner base is understanding that there are additional opportunities to engage with their customers in a different manner,” explained Small. “The programme is flexible enough to cater to those that are more confident in the technology space, but we are also encouraging them to at least consider the other business opportunities that are there.”

Juniper is pinning its hopes on its Middle East operation delivering positive results this year. It is not known how the EMEA region performed during the first quarter, but global revenues fell 7% to US$764m.

The vendor claims to have made big strides towards building a stronger services infrastructure in the Middle East, recently hiring a local customer services director.

What chance, though, is there of the company repeating the 87% growth in the UAE and 24% rise in KSA that it saw last year?

“It always depends on what happens with some of the large projects,” admitted Schenk. “I am absolutely optimistic about what is happening in the region and what we are building. I think customers really appreciate us building this customer services infrastructure — it was needed.”

While the networking channel faces obvious challenges at the moment, Schenk believes the vendor’s careful channel management policy means good margins and profitability are still easy to come by — especially in comparison to main rival Cisco: “If you look at our channel it is not overcrowded at all. There are 233 partners at this event, which is not a lot. There are some vendors that have thousands coming to these events, which means lots of partners in the local market. And if the number of projects is going down then the competition increases. We don’t have that issue — we see less projects than before, but because we have been very selective with signing up new resellers there isn’t a channel war going on,” insisted Schenk.

That said, the company is still reaching out to partners, citing opportunities around the data centre in particular.

“I think we have a compelling business case for our customers and that is an area that some of our partners are very good in,” said Small. “There are opportunities there, both for existing partners to skill up and get into that adjacent market, and also for new partners. Bear in mind we are very pure-play, it is really around security products, switching products and our connectivity products.”

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