Extreme has been on an interesting multi-year journey as the company has grown through aggressive acquisitions. Much of its research and development efforts have focused on bringing Core Extreme’s portfolios closer to the companies it has purchased, such as Avaya Networking, Brocade Data Center, Motorola Wi-Fi and Aerohive.
Now that much of the “heavy lifting” of interoperability and portfolio streamlining has been done, Extreme can focus on driving features that create step-in value for its customers.
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Extreme Launches Digital Twin Capabilities
While most vendors have some level of AI capabilities, Extreme is the first networking equipment vendor to introduce the concept of the digital twin. The technology allows companies to create a digital model of the environment to make more informed decisions.
For example, a manufacturer can use it to better optimize a shop to improve performance. The use of digital twins has been strong in several industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare, and retail.
Extreme’s Digital Twin creates a virtual replica of the network, allowing customers to stage and validate network infrastructure configurations, such as switches and access points, before deployment. Typically, when the network infrastructure is installed, there can be weeks or even months of tweaking and tuning to optimize performance. Network engineers can use the digital twin to perform post-deployment tracking before deploying physical equipment.
Explainable AI/ML builds trust and confidence
Extreme has also introduced something it calls “Explainable AI/ML” to its AIOps engine. The infusion of AI has been something of everything network providers have added over the past two years, but network engineers often struggle to turn AI-generated insights into actionable tasks.
Another challenge that network professionals face with AI is that the engine makes recommendations, but how they were derived is a “black box”, so it’s hard to know if the machine learning suggestions are correct.
Extreme’s functionality provides readable results of how insights were obtained, allowing engineers to automate operations knowing the recommendations are the right ones. This helps build trust, which ultimately leads to a reduction in average time to resolution. Issues can be proactively addressed before they impact the business.
SD-WAN managed in ExtremeCloud
Late last year, Extreme acquired SD-WAN Ipanema supplier of Infovista. This was another in a long line of acquisitions where Extreme managed to add good technology to its portfolio.
Ipanema has always had cutting edge technology, in fact Infovista had recently rebuilt the product to be cloud native but didn’t have the sales force to sell it as it was a bit of a square peg in a business round hole. The addition of Ipanema completes the “end-to-end” network puzzle for Extreme. The company has a network of data centers and campuses, a large wireless portfolio and now a WAN component.
The news at the shows is that Ipanema has now been integrated with Extreme’s management platform, allowing customers to manage the entire network from a single screen. Additionally, through a partnership with Checkpoint, Extreme now offers a range of security features, including cloud security and edge firewalls.
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Expansion of Universal Platforms
Extreme’s portfolio was built through acquisitions, giving the company multiple platforms. This could create a potentially confusing scenario for customers who have one platform but want to move to another – this would typically require a “rip and replace” of infrastructure.
Extreme has a unique product line called Universal material where a customer can deploy a switch but boot it with multiple operating systems. This gives customers the flexibility to run the codebase they want today, as well as the choice to migrate without having to switch platforms.
At the show, Extreme announced the 5270 Universal Switch, adding to its existing portfolio. The new product defines a new high end reference for this family of products. The switch has 48 multi-gigabit ports, built-in redundancy, and can be managed locally or using ExtremeCloud IQ.
Just a few years ago, Extreme Networks was considered by many industry observers to be on the fast track to irrelevance. The company then went on a shopping spree and gobbled up some great assets, but many raised eyebrows about this strategy as integrating multiple products at once can be difficult.
The company has certainly had its ups and downs in the process, but appears to have raised the bar and has now had seven consecutive quarters of double-digit year-over-year EPS growth and five consecutive quarters of more than 20% growth in operating profit.
Extreme has grown steadily and now exceeds $1 billion in run rate, and is a leader in Gartner’s Wired and Wireless LAN Magic Quadrant. Now that much of the blocking and resolving has been taken care of, the company can focus on accelerating innovation for differentiation, such as digital twin capability.
Going forward, customers should expect to see more from the company in terms of artificial intelligence, analytics, and other features that make IT easier while improving the user experience.
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