Last week, Extreme Networks held its annual customer event, Connect, virtually from Boston’s historic Fenway Park. The highlights from the event include new product introductions, a collection of customer and partner relationships, a celebration of 25 years in business, and insights into Extreme Networks' vision moving forward.
Customers & Partners
The theme of this year’s Connect was once again “Advance,” and the fast-paced one hour keynote highlighted how Extreme customers from all around the world were able to move forward over the past year leveraging Extreme solutions. Long known for its strong presence in professional sports venues, COO Norman Rice reminded the audience how Extreme enabled this year’s Superbowl to be a completely contactless experience, from tickets to concessions, and then spent time discussing how the Boston Red Sox took advantage of the off season to roll out these same innovative technologies in the oldest MLB ballpark in the country. Norman covered other examples, including Baylor University, which just won a national championship for basketball, discussing reaching new levels of agility and Shady Point School district in Oklahoma discussing how they are much more flexible now thanks to a modern network. CEO Ed Meyercord spoke with some international customers to discuss how they advanced, including Charite, one of the largest research universities in Europe, whose advances focused on making data more interoperable and leveraging more AI/ML technologies, and El Corte Ingles, the largest department store in Europe, which is leveraging Extreme to enable a new commerce platform and ensure wireless connectivity to its customers. Norman also spent time with Broadcom COO highlighting Extreme's strategic partnership with Broadcom and how it gives Extreme the inside track on the latest technology.
Vision for the Future
Nabil Buhkari introduced the concept of the infinite enterprise. I like this concept, as it addresses significant trends in the market, including that the IT pendulum is swinging toward being more distributed. This trend was accelerated during the pandemic, as applications were distributed across multiple public clouds, data centers, and edge locations and employees were distributed to home offices. ESG refers to this as a distributed cloud environment. And based on our research, applications will continue to accelerate to public clouds and edge locations, and workers will continue to work remotely.
According to Nabil, the Extreme infinite enterprise is based on three key criteria. The first is enabling infinitely distributed connectivity. This makes sense given that the network becomes much more relevant in delivering positive experiences. Nabil explains this needs to be more than just consumer network connectivity, but rather enterprise class. Next, it needs to have scalable cloud-based management. According to ESG research, deploying cloud-based management solutions ranked as the top selection for streamlining network operations. This dovetails nicely with organizations that cite operational efficiency as their top digital transformation goal. Given the increased complexity in a highly distributed environment, cloud-based management solutions will enable operations team to manage more efficiently. The last criteria of the infinite enterprise is to stay focused on delivering positive experiences. That means providing the best possible experience regardless of user and location. It speaks to the need to have enterprise class connectivity and the ability to leverage AI/ML technology to ensure optimized connectivity.
Innovation to Power This Vision – CoPilot and 9000 Series Switch
In order to make this vision a reality, Extreme also announced new products. One new product, CoPilot, will be available to all ExtremeCloud IQ users in late June. Designed to work with Pilot, this new capability brings AI/ML technology to the platform to deliver alerts and recommendations to operations teams. Its first goal is to dramatically reduce the number of alarms, so operations teams can focus on what is really important.
Another key part of this is something Nabil referred to as explainable AI— ensuring that it is not just magic that occurs behind the curtain, but rather that users understand why they are recommending certain actions, and even providing users the ability to provide feedback to Extreme on relevance, ensuring the technology continues to be improved and keeps human involvement during the process. This includes the ability to connect directly with Extreme’s GTAC from CoPilot, and Extreme even inserted information videos within the software to accelerate adoption.
The other product innovation announced was a cloud-native network visibility platform: the Extreme 9000 series. Looking to capitalize on the transition to 5G networks and the need to have visibility into these cloud-native environments, the launch of the switch is well timed. It also ensures availability and reliability by leveraging micro-services architecture and Kubernetes clusters that allow it to be updated or patched without service interruption. It also leverages an API-first design to maximize integration with existing assets and easily extract data.
The bets Extreme made in prior years are paying off, as the technology and talent acquired are enabling Extreme to execute against its newly declared infinite enterprise vision. It now has cloud-based management and a full line up to cover end-to-end network environments and is now adding innovative AI/ML technologies to deliver additional insights. The company remains focused on delivering differentiated experiences for its customers, which should help it navigate the next 25 years.