TORONTO – Chris Mascitelli, the director of channels at Juniper Networks, told CDN that two of his career mentors come from the distribution side of the business.
They are none other than Jim Estill, the founder of EMJ Data Systems, long time CEO of Synnex Canada and currently the head of Nu Horizons of Melville, N.Y., and Julia Conn Watt, the founder of Tech Data Canada. Both Watt and Estill were named CDN Channel Leaders and Visionaries.
Mascitelli worked for Watt at Tech Data Canada for five years, while Estill gave Mascitelli an account at EMJ when he was just starting out. Mascitelli said that account got him “hooked” on the IT industry.
Today, Mascitelli is focused on delivering profits to channel partners through Juniper Networks’ various channel programs. Partner profitability is the biggest thing the company has going for it. The basics of the strategy are offering good margins, enabling the partner base to offer professional services and to not allow any competition with each other in the market place.
The following is an edited transcript.
CDN Now: What do you do on a daily basis to increase channel partner margins?
Chris Mascitelli: At Juniper, all of our partner programs are about margins. It’s what we care about. We have an opportunity registration program and when a partner introduces an opportunity they can get as much as 10 extra discount points on that opportunity. I’m also a big fan of pushing partner brands over my own. We do a lot of demand creation activity and seminars to help them get to the customer. And I always talk about our solutions instead of my solutions, and I think it gives us an edge in the market place instead of pushing Juniper products because any one can offer that.
CDN Now: How is the J-Partner Program and its new enhancements working out so far?
C.M.: Good so far. The major reason for the changes over the last couple of years is because we added new products and we needed to fit them into the different segments. We also acquired some companies, but the fundamentals of the program have not changed. We just added some new product sets. The theme was to get the channel partners certified on the new products. In two of the major city centres we’ve off set the training expenses for this. We will do the same in Western Canada during the summer. We’re about 85 per cent complete on partners meeting the new requirements.
CDN Now: Are you still looking for more partners in Canada? Juniper told CDN that it wanted to increase its base, while being cognizant to not be too over-subscribed.
C.M.: This is still the case. We have some coverage needs. We have partners in all the major city centres. When you look at southwestern Ontario we do not need any more partners. We are cautious. We are not looking for partners in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but in those outlining areas we do need coverage. We are good in every metro area across Canada, but not so good outside the dense populations. There are just not a lot of partners out there. All the VARs are focused on the major cities and not so much the outlining areas.
C.M.: That is interesting. Partners today would say there is friction with HP and Cisco. We are not reacting to it. We have a strategy in place to further launch our portfolio on switching. The market opportunity is insane for five year old switching ($39 billion). With the way the economy is today customers no longer are automatically going with the incumbent. This is a great opportunity for Juniper Networks. We introduced new switching products that have an operating system that the large carriers use. We have great credibility and people are adopting us and having success with our products.
CDN Now: Juniper Networks went public late last year about going after Nortel’s channel partners. Lately Avaya created a program for Nortel channel partners to jump ship. How has it worked out for the company so far? How many Nortel partners have you been able to sign in Canada?
C.M.: That announcement was focused on the U.S. only. In Canada we evaluated that partner base and since we have good coverage already there was no need to go after all of those Nortel resellers. Many of them saw the writing on the wall and had already engaged with us. But there is still a large number of Nortel partners that are still loyal to the company.
CDN Now: Last year Juniper revamped and renamed its management platforms to Network and Security Manager. How has that move worked out so far?
C.M.: That is actually a great story because in the past Network Security Manager managed just the firewall. Now we can go into larger customers and manage more than just one box. It has made it easy for customer to justify the expense and it has been good for VARs who have larger installed bases and it gives them more services opportunities. They can also manage it remotely as well. Many partners have adopted it.