This syndicated post originally appeared at Yankee Group Blog » Zeus Kerravala.

Back in March, I wrote a blog post about Extreme Networks new positioning around mobility.  This was a very bold move for Extreme considering they are best known as a wired switching vendor.  However, the repositioning of the company is consistent with Yankee Group’s vision of mobility being redefined, with the wired network playing a key role in that redefinition.

This week, Extreme announced the expansion of their product line introducing the “Ethernet Access Switch” (EAS) to deliver cost effective access for corporate networks.  The concept of the EAS is similar to the concept of a wireless access point.  That is a company would build a robust network with a rock solid core and LAN edge and then extend the network to an access edge for the various devices to attach to.  Because of the impact of consumerization, much of the focus of building an access edge has been on building a wireless access edge but there are still millions of devices that connect over the wired network.  The best way to think about it is that organizations will use wireless APs to build out their wireless access edge and EAS switches for their wired access edge.

The Extreme EAS is a switch that has been feature optimized specifically for access, so it has layer two and layer three options, Gig-E connectivity, optional POE+ and QoS.

These types of switches have been available before but not from an enterprise class switch vendor.  If an enterprise had wanted to design a network this way they would have had to use products from the likes of DLink or Linksys.  Not bad products but doesn’t have the enterprise class service, support and warranties behind it.  Most enterprise class vendors don’t have a product in this class since many customers would just pay the premium and put a switch at the access edge that was designed for a different place in the network (and, of course, carries a higher price point).

This announcement also signals a change in mindset at Extreme Networks.  Prior to the arrival of new CEO, Oscar Rodriguez, and his team, which includes CMO Dave Ginsburg, getting Extreme to build a non-XOS switch would have been a next to impossible task.  XOS is Extreme’s underlying operating system.  Its feature rich, robust and can enable a lot of cool features but it’s not what you need at the access edge.  One of the criticisms I have had regarding Extreme over the years is that the company focused far too much on technology and not enough on what customers wanted.

It’s good to see Extreme shift from building features no one would buy to building products that customers need.  The re-definition of mobility creates opportunity for all but sometimes it takes a change in strategy.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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