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Extreme to unify wired, wireless campus with Avaya fabric software

Extreme Networks plans to embed Avaya fabric technology in switches and management software to enable centralized control of large wired and wireless campus networks.

Extreme Networks Inc. plans to lean on its recently acquired Avaya fabric software to provide centralized management and control of large wired and wireless campus networks.

Extreme released this week a product roadmap for the rest of the year that encompasses the software and hardware of both companies. Late last week, Extreme completed the acquisition of the networking business of Avaya Inc., which sold the unit as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

In November, Extreme plans to add Avaya's Fabric Attach technology to its campus wireless products, which include controllers and access points, and to switches running the company's ExtremeXOS network operating system, executives said in an online webinar aimed at Avaya customers and partners. The vendor also plans to add Fabric Attach to the Extreme Management Center.

Fabric Attach is an extension of Avaya's Fabric Connect, which enables simpler provisioning, management and troubleshooting of switches. Fabric Connect was Avaya's software-defined networking product. It is supported in many of Avaya's campus and data center switches, which Extreme acquired.

Fabric Attach extends automatic provisioning to non-Avaya switches and endpoints, including wireless LAN access points. An agent is deployed on the devices, so they can receive the configurations from the Avaya Fabric Connect system.

In September, Extreme plans to release 802.11ac Wave 2 access points under a new brand, called Superspec. Also, the company will release version 4.11 of ExtremeCloud, the company's cloud-based network management software for small and midsize wired and wireless LANs built on Extreme technology.

Avaya customers as important as technology

Besides technology, Extreme's acquisition of Avaya's networking business brought a customer base that Extreme wants to hold. The company plans to keep those customers by honoring all Avaya contracts and continuing to support and service all products.

Catering to Avaya customers is important because Extreme would have had difficulty acquiring them on its own, given the maturity of the networking market, said Jim Duffy, an analyst at 451 Research. "It's more of a customer grab than any benefit from the Avaya technology."

I don't see them taking any Cisco share, I don't see them taking any HPE share, and I don't see them taking any Huawei share.
Jim Duffyanalyst at 451 Research

Indeed, Extreme has been growing its customer base through a buying spree that started in September 2016 with the $55 million acquisition of Zebra Technologies' WLAN business. Extreme announced the $100 million Avaya acquisition in mid-March of this year, roughly two weeks before agreeing to buy Brocade's data center business from Broadcom, also for $55 million. The Brocade portfolio includes switches, routers, and network automation and analytics software.

Extreme's combined revenue from the acquisitions will reach about $1 billion, according to the company. However, Duffy said he is skeptical the company will be able to grow much larger, given that Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Huawei and other rivals have similar products. 

"I don't see them taking any Cisco share, I don't see them taking any HPE share, and I don't see them taking any Huawei share," he said.  Also, Extreme still has to effectively integrate all the technologies it has acquired and demonstrate that it can hold onto the new customers.

Brocade deal delayed

Extreme also has to complete the Brocade acquisition, which hit a snag with government regulators this week. Brocade, which sold itself to Broadcom last year for $5.9 billion, has yet to win approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. CFIUS reviews the national security implications of a foreign entity acquiring a U.S. business. Broadcom has headquarters in Irvine, Calif., and Singapore.

At CFIUS's request, Brocade and Broadcom have refiled for a 30-day review, which the agency could extend for an additional 45 days. Brocade said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that there are "no assurances" CFIUS would approve the deal.

CFIUS nixing the transaction would stop Extreme's plans for Brocade. Nevertheless, Extreme is optimistic and believes it can complete the deal by Oct. 28, Extreme CEO Ed Meyercord said during the webinar. Once the Broadcom-Brocade sale is complete, Extreme will take control of its piece of Brocade within a few days.

"Having the extra time to the extent that it's there isn't going to hurt us," Meyercord said. "It's just going to give us more time for our operations team to prepare for the business integration."

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