Extreme faces challenges, girds for future networking battles

Extreme Networks competes with Cisco, HP Aruba, Juniper for campus, data center networks

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Extreme Networks is contending for greater influence from the data center to the network edge, but it has some obstacles to overcome.

The company is still grappling with how to best integrate, use and effectively sell the technologies it has acquired from Avaya and Brocade in the past year, as well as incorporate and develop its own products to do battle in the cloud, mobile and edge computing environments of the future. Remember, too, that Extreme bought wireless player Zebra Technologies in 2016 for $55 million.

In terms of results that Wall Street watches, Extreme Networks grew revenue 76% to $262 million in its recent fiscal third quarter. According to Extreme, those gains were fueled mostly by growth from its acquisitions and around an 8% growth in its own products. 

Analyst expectations were higher about – $266 million – so there was some stock market consternation earlier this year. There have been some layoffs at the company, but most experts say integrating the technologies Extreme has purchased in the past two years is no small feat, and they expect the network vendor to continue growing.   

Campus switching, wireless management

Extreme CEO Ed Meyercord thinks so, as well, telling analysts on the firm’s most recent earnings call: “Combining Avaya’s differentiated fabric technology with Extreme’s full suite of software and competitive wireless, continues to yield dividends from a cross-selling perspective. We are now rebuilding our pipeline of business in our Avaya campus business, which is being generated by strong demand for our fabric solution.” 

He says the Layer 2 fabric is easy to deploy and enables segmenting networks for better security, which is stimulatingn demand. "We continue to target a $200 million annual run rate in Q4 and growth in fiscal 2019 at a higher gross margin level than what we saw in Q3,” Meyercord said.

Key to customer acceptance and future growth Extreme recently took the wraps off a number of new products that represent its first rollout that featured technologies from its newly integrated roster including wired, wireless, network management, cloud, analytics and security.

Customers need to protect and advance their edge networks, and there has been no path to protect and manage this vital environment, says Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility solutions at Extreme. The network edge is where mobile transactions, management and connection of IoT devices occur. It is the first line of defense against cyberattacks where multiple connectivity technologies come together across various locations and deployment situations. 

Extreme debuts Smart OmniEdge for Wi-Fi, switching

And that’s where the company’s Smart OmniEdge suite of products promises to improve the management, policy setting and security of customers’ edge network environments, Leibovitz says.

The Smart OmniEdge family includes:

  • ExtremeAI for Smart OmniEdge – A hosted application for Wi-Fi environments that uses machine learning to collect network analytics, device statistics, connection rates, and user and application experience characteristics. This lets the network constantly learn and adapt to a customer’s clients and applications accessing the Wi-Fi network, Extreme said.
  • ExtremeCloud Appliance – The on-premises appliance delivers cloud-like licensing and management with integrated services and is container ready for operational expansion, Extreme stated.  It is also available as a virtual machine (VM) for customers that have their own private-cloud services.
  • Extreme Extended Edge Switching – Software for Extreme’s family of switches that lets customers collapse multiple network layers into a single logical switch. The idea is to enhance edge switch intelligence, flatten the network and ultimately cut costs, the company said. 
  • Extreme Defender for IoT – The Defender for IoT application can be deployed on the ExtremeCloud Appliance in any form factor and used to help ensure secure access of IoT devices plugged into the wall jack AP or the Extreme Defender Adaptor. The application lets IT administrators analyze traffic flows and pinpoint anomalies. The application works with the Extreme Fabric Connect infrastructure or over third-party networks to protect IoT devices, and is ideal for healthcare environments, the company said.

One of the key take-aways from the announcement is that OmniEdge and the company’s Extreme Management Center give users options of managing wireless environments from the same pane of glass as they manage their traditionally wired networks, Leibovitz says. From a competitive standpoint no one else offers that capability, he says. 

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