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Juniper Networks offers new partner specialization

Juniper is offering its top partners a new specialization in implementation expertise with education and consulting specialties soon to follow.

Juniper Networks Inc. announced the availability of the first of three new partner specializations Tuesday -- the initial one focusing on implementation of the company's products.

The invitation-only, free specialization will go to Juniper's top partners, also offering them a free playbook with information about designing, developing and deploying all of Juniper's products.

Juniper engineers and elite J-Partners compiled the information together, focusing on describing best practices for configuration, diagnostics, troubleshooting and routine maintenance among other factors, said Lori Cornmesser, vice president of global channel support services at Juniper.

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The specialization will act as a sort of "good housekeeping" stamp, differentiating Juniper's top partners by showing that they have a higher level of technical expertise, according to Steve Pataky, Juniper's vice president of channel development and programs. In fact, rather than being awarded to partners with the highest revenues, partners are chosen for the specialization based upon their commitment to technical expertise, he said.

Cornmesser also said the playbook will save partners time in implementation since they won't always have to do research as problems arise. It is also meant to help them train new engineers and salespeople.

Partners who were chosen as part of the specialization trial said the program will enable to them be more forward-thinking in their practices.

"As an integrator either you're going to be spray-and-pray or you're going to specialize and build skill sets that are deeper and deeper so you can work on more complex problems," said Tom Duffy, president and CEO of IGX Global, which has a large practice in Juniper's security products and a smaller but growing business in its network infrastructure. This partner specialization lends itself to building those deeper skills, he said.

Calling the specialization a chance to "open up the kimono" on the company's best practices, Pataky noted that the playbook explains specific products and not overall markets. Duffy agreed that all of IGX Global's Juniper product offerings are covered by the playbook.

The next two partner specializations deal with post-implementation services. One will be in technical support, the other in education and consulting.

"Some resellers are not looking to become a full education center," Cornmesser said, adding, however, that partners need basic information for planning. Consulting services, she said, will focus on roadmap and migration planning and design. The technical support rollout will be in the next quarter, while the education and consulting specialization will be in the first part of 2009.

All of the partner specializations are also meant to boost revenue streams and build stronger partner-customer relationships. Juniper is not alone in beating the services drum. Cisco Systems Inc. heavily promoted that approach at is partner summit last week. Still, Pataky said that while Juniper-enabled services will result in further income, they are not meant to replace products and their stronger revenues. The company understands that services income is meant to support product revenue.

As part of the overall partner specializations offer, Cornmesser expects further technical training webcasts to be available, as well as a future "e-learning space" for engineers and salespeople, among others.

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