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Juniper to buy Funk Software

The proposed acquisition by Juniper Networks of a maker of network access security solutions will give partners a deeper product line to sell to enterprise customers, according to a senior company executive.

Robert Bruce, Juniper’s vice-president of channels for the Americas, said the US$122-million deal to buy Funk Software of Cambridge, Mass., will help the company offer complete network solutions. Bruce and two other executives were in Toronto last month to meet Juniper’s Ontario partners for a half-day conference and to find out how the company can help them make money.
With the Funk deal, Juniper “seems to be making the right acquisitions to turn it into an full end-to-end network solution provider,” said Ron Stewart, founder and executive vice-president of Flexity Solutions of Richmond Hill, a Juniper elite partner.
Daniel Cheng, president of AMA Inc., a Mississauga, Ont., solution provider and Juniper elite partner, was more cautious. “I am sure in the future” his company will benefit, he said, “but right now I am still digesting their acquisition of Redline and Peribit.”
In July, Juniper bought Peribit Networks, which makes wide area network optimization solutions, while last year it picked up Redline Networks, which makes network appliances.
Juniper has been on an acquisition binge lately. In October it paid US$8.7 million for Acorn Packet Solutions, while in March agreed to buy Kangoor Networks for US$67.5 million.
At the partner meeting, Cheng said, VARs urged the executives to create better sales tools to compete against Cisco Systems’ Integrated Services Router (ISR) line.
A year ago Juniper overhauled its channel business by creating of the J-Partner program.
It is weighted to reward VARs who sell solutions and services. A year ago the company had “relationships” with dealers, Bruce said. Now there are about 10 elite and 20 select partners in Canada (including major telcos), who are certified with specialities. They account for about 80 per cent of sales here, Bruce said.
Another 100 partners are strictly hardware resellers.
“When they announced the J-Partner program I was skeptical,” said Cheng, in part because Juniper was mostly known for carrier-class products. But, he said, “I was really surprised that within a short period of time they put together a program with lots of punch.”
He’s impressed that system engineers as well as the sales staff of partners are eligible for financial incentives, and that the company waived its training fees for certifications. He estimated AMA will sell $250,000 in Juniper products this year, up from zero.
Stewart’s company, barely a year old, chose Juniper as a partner because it wanted at least one relatively unknown vendor. He appreciates that Juniper is not out to sign every VAR that applies.