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Digital businesses need a smarter network edge

News Analysis
Jun 19, 20185 mins
Cloud ComputingInternet of ThingsMobile

With its Smart OmniEdge, Extreme Networks provides some much-needed innovation at the network edge.

wireless network - internet of things edge [IoT] - edge computing
Credit: Thinkstock

As the world has become more cloud- and IoT-centric, the network has increased in value. That is why there has been so much focus on network evolution, particularly in the data center and the wide area network.

One part of the network that has lagged in innovation, however, is the network edge. Over the years, the edge of the network has been considered by many to be a commodity. And for many businesses, it is in dire need of a refresh. I’ve talked to some organizations that are running network edge infrastructure that’s approaching 10 years old and haven’t even had a software upgrade in years.

The network edge needs to evolve

However, in the words of Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changing” — and so is the role of the network edge.

Many of the digital building blocks, such as cloud computing, wireless, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are distributed compute paradigms, so the edge plays a more important role. In fact, we live in a world now where new devices are being connected at a furious rate, and almost all of these connect at the network edge over a wired or wireless connection.

Also, very few security threats now come in through the traditional perimeter. Since users and IoT devices are connected at the edge, it has become the primary source for breaches. With respect to networking, the edge is where it’s now at but badly needs more innovation.

Extreme Networks introduces Smart OmniEdge

Extreme Networks aims to provide that innovation with its Smart OmniEdge solution, which modernizes the network edge and aligns it better with current trends.

As the name suggests, Extreme’s Smart OmniEdge is a network edge solution designed to provide the intelligence, agility, and security required for businesses to meet the challenges of digital competition both now and into the foreseeable future. The solution enables companies to quickly and easily acquire and provision edge services with a choice of consumption models (hardware, software or as a service) to meet the specific needs of each company.

Smart OmniEdge works across both wired and wireless infrastructure, a key to creating a personalized and consistent experience because it’s nearly impossible to keep policies and features consistent across wired and wireless if managed independently.

Smart OmniEdge requires thinking about the network differently. Rather than focusing on maintaining the status quo, its management model transforms the network to enable rapid innovation at a business level. And instead of being a commodity, the network edge can be a vehicle for business transformation.

Key features of Smart OmniEdge: AI, better management, APIs

The following are the top five core components of Extreme’s Smart OmniEdge:

  • Extreme AI is a machine learning (ML) / artificial intelligence (AI)-based solution that is used to deliver an improved experience at the edge. It uses AI/ML to facilitate self-optimization and automated correction of the radio frequency (RF) issues from learned history, events, users, and devices. The solution also provides a wide range of key performance indicators (KPIs) to validate and ensure performance.
  • ExtremeCloud Appliance is designed for customers who want the simplicity of the cloud to manage the network edge but want to keep the infrastructure on premises. Extreme’s cloud management tool, ExtremeCloud, enables organizations to manage the network via a portal. The ExtremeCloud Appliance gives customers the same capabilities, but it is deployed in the customer’s own data center. The ExtremeCloud Appliance is available as a physical device or as a virtual machine.
  • Advanced IoT features: Extreme Smart OmniEdge includes several IoT capabilities enabled by the IoT thread support on the Extreme Wi-Fi access points. The advanced features make it easier to onboard and secure IoT endpints. For endpoints with no native networking capabilities, Extreme offers its Defender for IoT and its Defender Adapter, which connects devices that have no native network connectivity. The ExtremeCloud Appliance acts as a centralized IoT controller that manages the security and policies that are pushed down to the IoT devices.
  • The Extreme Extended Edge Switching portfolio has been made more intelligent with the addition of the 802.1BR features. Extreme’s Extended Edge Switching collapses multiple network tiers into a single, logical tier, which makes the edge smarter while flattening the network and cutting deployment costs. The new architecture leads to a much simpler operational model that costs less to procure and is easier to manage.
  • Open APIs across the entire networking portfolio connect applications to the network. This enables new business insights to be discovered and customer engagements to be personalized, and it also enables the network to be programmable. In addition, the APIs support third-party applications and services to extend business insights. API access is much better way to program a switch versus infusing CLI commands.
extreme networks ai Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks becomes a security enabler

The solution also has several other differentiating features, such as a common operating system, consistent workflow regardless of management models, unified management for wired and wireless LAN, and something Extreme calls “Intrinsic security.”

For those not familiar with Intrinsic security, this type of security tightly couples security to the network. The network acts as a platform that can direct traffic to best-of-breed partners to deliver automated compliance checks, threat detection, and mitigation. Extreme isn’t known as a security vendor, but its ability to have security vendors plug into it enable it to play in that ecosystem.

In the digital world, competitive advantage is attained by organizations that are agile and can adapt to market shifts quickly. Because of that, businesses have adopted several new technologies, such as IoT, cloud computing, and Wi-Fi, all of which are network centric and operate at the edge. It’s time for network professionals to take a serious look at refreshing the campus network and build more intelligence at the edge.

Note: Extreme Networks is a client of ZK Research. 


Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, and provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long-term strategic advice. Kerravala provides research and advice to end-user IT and network managers, vendors of IT hardware, software and services and the financial community looking to invest in the companies that he covers.

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