The holy grail of any company should be networks which never go down, don’t need an expensive network operations center (NOC) and are easy to manage. I recently sat down with Seema Kumar (left), Director of Product/Solutions Marketing and Mike Leibovitz (right below), Director of Product Strategy, Extreme Networks to discuss their admiration for Facebook’s well-defined layer-3 fabric architecture. They told me their Extreme Open Fabric Edge is almost identical – they call it a bulletproof network without the need for 30 guys in a NOC. In addition, the company is working on making networks self-healing, self-configuring and self-optimizing.
The discussion centered on new multirate switches the company has introduced – The X460-G2 scalable advanced aggregation switch, the 1RU X620 10Gb Ethernet switch for 10Gb edge applications and the X870 high-density, purpose-built 100Gb switches designed for high-performance enterprise and cloud data centers.
Extreme has been on somewhat of a tear purchasing networking assets from Avaya and Broadcom. They consider themselves the only pure-play networking vendor, emphasizing they do not sell printers, phones or servers.
The case study which perhaps makes them proudest is their being the official WiFi and WiFi analytics provider of the NFL – participating in the last four Super Bowls. The most recent game in Houston saw 30-35,000 people simultaneously connecting.
I asked about the competition from Cisco and they emphasized their position as a pure-play provider as being an advantage. I also inquired about the competition from white box companies and they mentioned the challenge is what happens when something breaks and you need to call someone?
They say they are the only vendor that can provide unified wired/wireless security control through the whole infrastructure with the click of a button.
In other Extreme differentiation news – Leibovitz explained the average tenure of the support team is 12 years and they don’t outsource. In addition, the person who picks up the phone the first time resolves the issue 94% of the time.
Regardless of whether you are an Extreme customer or are considering them, this part of our conversation should fascinate and alarm you. Most every company they speak with says they are adding IP addresses to the network quite rapidly but when asked if they are adding staff, the answer is no, if they aren’t actually cutting people.
Leibovitz said BYOD added a factor of two-three to the network while IoT could add a factor of 10-15. He said companies are struggling with the issue – such as how to manage their DHCP servers.
He emphasized that their bread-and-butter is unification of wired and wireless networks, security, analytics and the visibility that they give their customers. Moreover, they optimize the performance and measure the quality of experience for the end users of IoT devices while adding control.