“The big push for 2011 is the eLearning center,” says Chris Mascitelli, Juniper’s director of channels for Canada. The Juniper Learning Academy launched in 2010 and the Continuing Education Program was rolled out among Canadian partners last February. “They asked us to make training more accessible,” he says.
“We invested a lot of money building this training portal,” he says, though he could not provide a specific amount. “It’s what we call continuing education. For them to continue their certifications, they now have to take continuing education training tracks,” he says. Training through the eLearning portal is free, he says. “The more value partners can offer to their customers ultimately translates to the more margin they can make,” he says.
The online program encourages partners to select courses appealing to their technology interests. They then receive specialized accreditations in areas like switching and cloud networking. Depending on credits earned, partners receive designations as either Sales or Technical Generalists, Advisors or Masters.
So far, the online learning portal has had a lot of success, Mascitelli says. “They love the fact that they can do this on their own time, hit pause and then continue,” he says, since partners can now do their training on their own time.
Classroom training won’t be out of the picture completely and Juniper will still use it for hands-on training with engineering teams, Mascitelli says.
As part of the online learning program, Juniper also created the first data centre certification in the market, he says. “You’re basically learning how to design and build a data centre for the future,” he says. Medium-sized businesses, not just large corporations, are seeing value in creating their own data centres, he adds.
“We’re always looking to expand, but strategically,” he says. “Juniper’s program from day one is by invitation,” he says. “If you look at our existing partners today, they have a strong technical sales force…but the backbone of their company is their engineering team and their ability to deliver advanced solutions.”
Juniper purchased Altor Networks last year, helping the company move more into cloud and security, two major trend areas in the industry, according to John Dathan, Junipers general manager for enterprise in Canada.
Juniper also acquired Trapeze Networks last year. But the companies’ acquisitions in 2010 surprisingly haven’t had much impact on its partners, Mascitelli says. “We have a very loyal partner base,” he says, and they have adapted well to changes to Juniper. “We like to think that we earn that by investing in their company.”