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Extreme Networks Outlines Its Vision for The Future

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This week Extreme Networks held its annual user event, Extreme Connect, in a digital format.  At the event, the company unveiled a new vision – the Infinite Enterprise, as well as a number of new products that can help companies make this vision a reality.

The concept of the Infinite Enterprise is an organization that extends anywhere and everywhere. This might have been a bit of science fiction 18 months ago but is certainly a reality in the post-pandemic world. IT leaders are now tasked with ensuring the global, hybrid workforce is functional and successful no matter where they are, hire talent wherever its located and ensure people can work wherever they want? That’s the concept of the Infinite Enterprise.

Introducing the Infinite Enterprise

Bukhari gave some examples of infinite enterprises. For example, a school needs to provide education to students both in person and online, simultaneously. Healthcare organizations must offer services regardless of where the person is.

Other organizations are dealing with the intricacies of a massively distributed global supply chain. No matter where a business is and no matter how big they are, they are dealing with having to become a distributed enterprise.

Three tenets for the Infinite Enterprise

During his keynote, Extreme’s CTO, Nabil Bukhari, outlined the following three tenets for the infinite enterprise:

  • Infinitely distributed connectivity enables companies to connect anybody, anywhere to any other person or application. It’s worth noting that this isn’t just run of the mill, best effort connectivity but rather high quality enterprise grade connectivity that is always present, always available and is secure and manageable.
  • Scalable cloud delivers the ability to orchestrate, observe, troubleshoot and find data and insights in the network. The cloud is critical here as the network is growing in complexity but very few network operations teams tell me they are getting more budget to manage the network. The cloud brings cost effective scale as it can grow as an organization does.
  • Consumer-centric experience means delivering a best-in-class experience to people that consume network services. This can include knowledge workers but also teachers, students, patients, factory workers and others.

The first two tenets can be supported with Extreme’s broad product portfolio but the third can be a challenge as the environment is constantly changing.  To support this, at the event, the company announced ExtremeCloud IQ CoPilot, a subscription service available within the ExtremeCloud IQ platform.

The product is designed to deliver AI based insights for network professionals, enabling them to quickly resolve well known, but highly complex issues.

Key attributes for CoPilot

  • Automatic access for Pilot Subscribers. Beginning June 21st, customers that use Pilot will have access to CoPilot and will begin to see individualized alerts and personalized recommendations within the ExtremeCloud IQ dashboard. During the initial public beta phase, customers will have the ability to provide feedback and improve CoPilot’s ability to recognize legitimate issues, improving the AI capabilities. One of the more interesting aspects is that Extreme offers unlimited data retention for CoPilot.
  • Explainable ML/AI recommendations. CoPilot sets a network baseline for each environment and the deviation from that enables quick detection of anomalies as well as the location of the issue, impact to users, possible root causes and recommended solutions. CoPilot uses explainable ML/AI insights so they can be easily understood and acted on. CoPilot tracks six categories of insights – WiFi efficiency, WiFi capacity, PoE stability, adverse traffic patterns, uplink efficiency and dynamic frequency selection recurrence with more categories coming.
  • Actionable insights. CoPilot acts as a trusted advisor and assists network professionals while continuing to rely on human intelligence to ensure accuracy and provide control. It uses ML/AI and statistical analysis depending on the complexity of the issue. Also, when CoPilot identifies critical problems, customers can engage directly with Extreme’s Global Technical Assistance Center (GTAC) from within ExtremeCloud IQ.

Extreme brings visibility to 5G

Another announcement made at Extreme Connect was a cloud-native packet broker designed to bring better visibility to telco and large enterprise networks. The new 9000 series switch provides traffic aggregation, analytics and packet filtering for distributed networks.

The product is built on the Intel Tofino 2 programmable silicon (formerly Barefoot) and can process packets and 12.8 Tbp. The product runs a Kubernetes, containerized operating system that delivers composability so updates can be done without service interruption.  While this isn’t exclusively a 5G product, that is the low hanging fruit because 5G networks are cloud native and inherently more complex.

Broadcom and Extreme are committed to each other

The keynote also included an interview between Extreme’s COO, Norman Rice and Broadcom’s COO, Charlie Kawwas. Rice explained that Broadcom is Extreme’s most important strategic vendor as Broadcom silicon is used exclusively in Extreme’s enterprise product line.

Kawwas confirmed the importance of the relationship was bilateral as Extreme is now a part of the Broadcom early access program.  This enables Extreme, and its customers, to stay ahead of the curve as Extreme will have access to Broadcom’s roadmaps, samples of devices, new software as well as influence the roadmap and how the chip manufacturer spends the $5B it invests annually in R&D. Kawwas finished the interview by saying “We definitely prioritize Extreme to make sure, as a strategic partner you will get immediate access to our products.”

Every business is now a digital business and the network is the foundation for transformation.  The network connects users to data to apps and to each other making the choice of network critical. Extreme has designed its products with scale and manageability in mind ensuring its customers have a rock solid platform for today but into the future.

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