Extreme CEO: Cloud, hybrid workplaces drive big growth for networking

As Extreme Network's revenues top $1 billion, CEO Ed Meyercord claims the company's XIQ management has features that Cisco's and other company's products lack.

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The continued growth of cloud applications, wireless technology and the COVID-19-driven enterprise hybrid workplace is making flexible networking a must.

As a result the networking industry as a whole is set to experience the highest growth in years, according to Extreme Networks’ president and CEO Ed Meyercord.

ed meyercord 1 Extreme Networks

Extreme CEO Ed Meyercord

Such growth is represented in part by the company’s record $1.009 billion in annual revenue for FY2021, which ended June 30. “The $1 billion mark has been a long-term goal of ours, and it’s a key milestone that represents the significant growth and positioning of the company,” Meyercord said. 

Extreme’s core cloud-based wireless and wired network-management offering, ExtremeCloud IQ (XIQ) continues to drive the company and has now seen eight straight quarters of growth and currently manages 1.7 million devices, Meyercord said. 

And customers can expect continued upgrades and new applications and services will be added to the platform. “We are working on security services that will come with our cloud and other services that will be delivered as a SaaS,” Meyercord said. 

In June the company added its CoPilot AI-based management tool that delivers what Extreme calls explainable AI. CoPilot works by ascertaining a baseline of network performance and behavior, applying machine learning and AI to spot and resolve problems, then recommending remediation. 

“The idea with CoPilot is to reduce the alarm fatigue many AI-based tools produce,” Meyercord said. “CoPilot explains in simple terms what is causing odd traffic patterns or what threats it is detecting as well as offering predictive behavior analysis so that if an access point or switch is failing it will point that out before it goes down.”

XIQ is also the hammer Extreme expects to use on the competition, namely Cisco and HPE. “We believe our XIQ architecture is better equipped to provide a cohesive services edge platform than Cisco, for sure, and then all the other competitors,” Meyercord said. 

“We give customers the ability to deploy services at edge, at cloud scale and speed, with a ton of features that our competition doesn’t include or have,” Meyercord said.

“You want to have a centralized platform, where you have complete visibility to all of the devices that you’re managing in the network, but also to have all the insights to the edge devices that are being supported. And that’s what our cloud does better than any other cloud in the industry,” Meyercord said in the company’s recent financial analysts call. 

XIQ and other Extreme products will help extend network services and management to the new flexible or hybrid work environment, Meyercord said.

“Customers are rethinking their networks. The new edge of the network is wherever and whatever device the individual worker is,” he said. “We can extend access and security from the cloud with a constant user experience no matter where the worker is and stand that service up quickly.”

Other Extreme technologies are making it easier to extend the enterprise. Just this week it rolled out an enterprise-grade Wi-Fi 6E access point, Extreme AP4000, which supports the new 6GHz frequency spectrum.  6GHz supports larger channels and higher data rates, as well as being a much less busy area of the spectrum compared to the heavily used 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that are also supported by Wi-Fi 6E.

“We see [it] as being a driver for dense networking requirements—everything from stadiums, and outdoor venues to healthcare and manufacturing,” Meyercord said.

The company recently added a new universal switch as well. The enterprise edge and aggregation 5420 family includes fixed 24- and 48-port models with Gigabit and Multi-Gigabit ethernet support. The series expands Extreme’s existing 5520 universal switch family. He said the introduction of the switch was the company’s most successful, even better than the introduction  of the 5520 earlier this year which he also called the most successful.

“We have upgraded approximately 40% of our portfolio to universal hardware, which is the latest generation of chipsets from Broadcom with embedded XIQ licenses,” Meyercord said during the financial analysts call. “This is on track with our plan we laid out at the beginning of the year.”

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