Juniper Taps New VP of Americas Partner Sales

Juniper Networks Inc. this week made public its choice of a new head of partner sales for the Americas, introducing Christopher M. Jones to replace well-known channel executive Frank Vitagliano.

Jones was officially named vice president of Americas Partner Sales on April 1 to succeed Vitagliano, who left Juniper earlier this year and took over as vice president of channel sales at Dell Inc. on April 15.

Jones, who has been with Juniper since 2010, brings a solid track record of networking sales experience to the new position. He served as head of worldwide commercial sales at Juniper and, prior to that, was head of worldwide channels at Cisco Systems Inc.’s WebEx unit. He also held senior global sales jobs at Cisco and Teradata Inc.’s Proxim Wireless subsidiary.

Jones takes the Americas channel helm during a challenging time for the Sunnyvale, Calif., vendor beset by increasing competition and radical changes to core networking technology, particularly in the software-defined networking (SDN) space. In March, Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski downgraded Juniper stock, saying the company was under increasing pressure from rivals Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent in the networking space and Palo Alto Networks Inc. in firewalls. Over the past year, shares are down around 12 percent.

Juniper said in October it planned to cut about 500 jobs — roughly 5 percent of its workforce — to save money. The company also reportedly tried unsuccessfully to sell off some of its assets, particularly enterprise firewalls. Juniper officials denied the reports. The vendor is suing Palo Alto Networks for patent infringement, alleging founder Nir Zuk took intellectual property when he left Juniper to found the next-generation firewall company. The case has been working its way through the system since 2011.

“We believe Chris’ strong business alliance capabilities and partner sales enablement expertise provides the guidance and business strategy required as our partners compete in a critical period in networking as business models transition from traditional infrastructures to service and software-oriented models,” said Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president of worldwide partners at Juniper said of Jones’ promotion. “Chris will continue to play a critical role as an evangelist for our partner ecosystem as we roll out new programs like Juniper Partner Advantage for Services and Cloud enabling partners to maintain a competitive edge during this market inflection point.”

In the near term, Jones says he’ll focus on building better connections between Juniper resellers and the company’s sales associates, and wringing out inefficiencies in the ways partners are engaged and enabled.

“Our goal is to drive collaboration between the Juniper partner community and the Juniper sales team so that they are mutual stakeholders and find value in making an investment in each other’s expertise,” Jones said in a blog post announcing his new position. “The foundation for a successful relationship already exists. I’ve committed to leveraging and strengthening those relationships.

“There is always room for improvement,” he added. “It’s about taking a look at the fundamentals of how we do business in the channel, how we engage with them and how we team with them. We’re putting an actionable plan into place so that we can be successful together starting from the top of the funnel to field execution.

“With Juniper Partner Advantage, our partners can expect a roll out of proactive enablement activities that support our strategic opportunities. It’s that simple.”