This week I flew to Nashville, TN to participate in ExtremeConnect 22 customer event. Despite Covid flare ups here and there, this event was very well attended – in fact it was sold out.
This was my second in-person event of 2022 and it is great to be back, as everyone gets so much more out of these events when together, and not just the ability to attend keynotes to feel the energy in the room, but the ability to attend training sessions, the opportunity for impromptu hallway meetings, getting access to executives and engineering talent, and the ability to interact socially with your peers.
ExtremeConnect 22 checked all the boxes, and despite being sold out, it still had an intimate feel, with customers and partners getting access to the executive team and engineering talent both day and night (although the latter tended to be on Broadway!)
So enough of the preamble, what were some of the key takeaways from the event? Here are the things that stood out to me:
- Extreme is on their game - The executive team has set the vision for the company and the pandemic gave them time to execute. It is clear the journey they are taking their customers on – to deliver solutions for the Infinite Enterprise, which means networking solutions to drive operational efficiency and better experiences in a highly distributed, complex, and rapidly growing IT environment. To that end, some of the notable announcements included:
- Extreme Cloud SD-WAN was announced. This was an important announcement for a couple of reasons. First, it enables Extreme to provide a unified wired, wireless, and WAN solution, which is important to drive more operational efficiencies. Second, it demonstrates that Extreme is becoming more efficient at integrating new acquisitions into their portfolio, including building out security ecosystem partnerships (Checkpoint). Lastly, Cloud SD-WAN will be very attractive to partners that want to expand their managed services portfolio. ESG research highlights that almost three quarters of respondents (73%) want to consume SD-WAN as a service (that includes link management as well). I expect that Extreme partners will be announcing services soon.
- Digital Twin capabilities are now available in Co-Pilot. Given the chip shortage and inability to get hardware product, the initial instantiation of Extreme’s Digital Twin solution provides immediate value. It enables customers to create a digital switch to leverage for training or to configure, which can then be pushed to the physical switch when it is deployed. This should dramatically reduce deployment times as organizations can build out a full digital representation of their environment prior to it being shipped.
- A new switch (5720) to their Universal Hardware Platform. This continues to expand the portfolio of universal switches that provides choice of operating systems and simplifies support. Customers I spoke to were excited about this as it enables them to standardize on hardware, spares, support, etc., while still maintaining the OS of their choice.
- Company culture. The employees are genuinely excited about the technology they are working on and it shows in many ways. In addition to the enthusiasm demonstrated in product booths, an extremely (pun intended) low turnover rate, despite being 80% remote, are all signs that the team believes they have something good going and demonstrates the executive team’s commitment to creating a strong and inclusive culture at Extreme. Along with Ed, Norm, Joe and Nabil, kudos to Kimberley Basnight (SVP Talent/HR Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer) and Katy Motiey (Chief Administrative and Sustainability Officer) for their efforts to make Extreme a great place to work.
Other notable parts of the event included the keynotes, where the executive team continues to be transparent about where the company is and provide a clear vision of the journey they are taking their customers on. Ed Meyercord shared a number of customer examples in his session. I was also able to attend a great session on WiFi 7 with David Coleman, who literally wrote the book on WiFi and is both passionate and pragmatic about the topic and technology. Thanks to Camille Mendler and Zeus Kerravala for making our panel session a lot of fun and informative. It was also great to see and listen to Dave Baker (President, NFL Hall of Fame) again and hear from a US Olympic Hall of Famer, Lindsey Vonn.
Extreme continues to execute against their vision of an Infinite Enterprise and provide outstanding support for their customers as they take this journey together. This event was a great proof point to validate that they are on the right track of delivering end-to-end networks on universal platforms with cloud-based management that provides the intelligence (AI and Digital Twin) and operational efficiency to effectively manage highly distributed IT and worker environments. Looking forward to Extreme Connect 23 in Berlin!