Extreme Networks recently held its 2020 User Conference, Extreme Connect, the first with Wes Durow, CMO. Keeping in line with the new reality we are all facing, it was a virtual event. However, Extreme took great efforts to give the thousands watching from home the feel of a main stage production and infuse two days’ keynotes, breakout sessions, and executive chats with opportunities to have some fun and be entertained.
Norman Rice, Extreme COO, kicked things off by speaking with customers about the impact of the pandemic and the importance of connectivity, experience, and cloud-based management in a highly distributed environment. Extreme used this as an opportunity to highlight the digital divide. With 50% of the world lacking internet access, Extreme announced they would partner with the United Way to help close the digital divide and called on attendees to help by making a donation. The fundraiser is ongoing through the end of October for those who wish to contribute.
A significant portion of the day one keynote session was dedicated to Nabil Bukhari, CTO/CPO, who explained how Extreme is 100% focused on delivering “Effortless Experiences.” He stated that delivering an “effortless experience” at Extreme means providing customers with a simple, intuitive, and consistent experience across all hardware, software, and services spanning an end-to-end network. This experience would cover core to edge, as well as wired and wireless. The experience also takes into consideration the multiple different personas that interact with Extreme, including the buyer, network admins, and users. Extreme believes that the key enablers required to successfully deliver an Effortless Experience will include cloud-based management, universal hardware platforms, and outstanding services.
The day two keynote remained customer-focused as Ed Meyercord, President and CEO, highlighted numerous customer wins as Extreme continues to progress on their journey and specifically called out one of their latest – Major League Baseball (MLB). Ed also provided an example of how Extreme itself benefited from its “Effortless Experience” during the pandemic. Back in March, when all Extreme employees were instructed to work from home, Extreme was able to upgrade 28 of its own sites that were using Extreme Management Center (XMC) to ExtremeCloud IQ in under 24 hours. That is the type of experience they would like to replicate in customer environments.
The big product and innovation news during the event focused on enabling the Effortless Experience and included:
- ExtremeCloud IQ Essentials software suite. Extreme is taking full advantage of the management software gained from the Aerohive acquisition to expand its cloud-based management capabilities across the entire portfolio. During the event, they highlighted the benefits of leveraging modern applications (microservices architecture and container-based) by rolling out several new software packages that will be offered at no charge to customers with an Extreme Cloud IQ Pilot subscription (not the free Connect version). This initial suite of software includes wireless intrusion protection, location services, IoT management, guest access, and compliance services, providing something for almost everyone. Given the financial and operational pressures many organizations are under this year, getting something of value for free should be welcomed. ESG research conducted after COVID-19 struck indicated that organizations wanted solutions that provide increased ROI. I expect organizations using ExtremeCloud IQ would agree, specifically those in need of capabilities to assist with return to business/school, leveraging location-aware software for contact tracing. Security also tops the list of concerns, so ExtremeIoT and AirDefense should be well received, as well. For highly regulated markets such as healthcare or financial services, ExtremeCompliance is poised to deliver value and ExtremeGuest could be useful for any company with a guest network.
The key to these new apps is that they are built using modern application architectures and processes, which will enable not only updates and fixes to be addressed quickly, but also the creation of new applications to join this suite, so I expect more to come. Plus, Extreme also launched a mobile phone app, simplifying deployment by helping eliminate manual errors during the onboarding process and accelerating troubleshooting issues.
- Universal Hardware Platform. To further enable the Effortless Experience, Extreme is empowering its diverse customer base to progress with Extreme at its own pace, while also ensuring investment protection for any hardware they purchase. As Extreme has acquired and integrated several different companies, each has brought its own hardware and software platforms. With this announcement, Extreme has standardized the hardware for all Extreme customers, regardless of whose solution a customer has (Brocade, Avaya, Extreme, or Aerohive). Moving forward, there will be a single consistent hardware platform capable of running either a legacy operating system or Extreme. This will enable the Extreme family of customers to continue to use the OS of choice – and make the transition at a time of their choosing.
When you consider this portfolio news together with recent announcements specific to ISO 27001 cloud choice options (AWS, Azure, or GCP), as well as access to unlimited network data analytics for the duration of your ExtremeCloud IQ Pilot subscription, it is clear to see that Extreme continues to innovate at a rapid pace in 2020.
This user conference is the latest in a series of proof points of how Extreme has continued to execute on its journey to provide cloud-driven, end-to-end network solutions. For too long, data networking has been unnecessarily complex, and the announced solutions are integral to delivering an Effortless Experience. It also demonstrates that Extreme remains committed to delivering value to its customers, which is now more important than ever.