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Posts Tagged ‘extreme networks’

This has been quite the past half a year for the once-beleaguered Extreme Networks. Given all the change in the industry and all the media focus on network startups and SDNs, Extreme Networks had almost become the forgotten-about network vendor. Six months ago, Extreme’s stock price was trading at a little over $3.50/share and the company had recently gone through a CEO change.

Today, the company seems to have had a complete facelift and the stock has more than doubled in price. In November, Extreme acquired Enterasys Networks and effectively doubled the organization’s revenues. Earlier this year, the company was named the official Wi-Fi analytics provider of the NFL. While this may seem like an odd thing to form a partnership around, Wi-Fi analytics holds massive potential for Extreme.

It seems every company today is trying to improve the customer experience, and the NFL is no different. In fact, in this era of fantasy football and social media, NFL fans are constantly checking scores, tweeting and posting Facebook updates, and the NFL has been on a mission to improve the in-stadium fan experience.

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It’s certainly been an exciting month for Extreme Networks. Earlier this month, the company closed the acquisition of Enterasys and announced earnings that Wall Street liked so much that the stock shot up 20% to a five-year high.

And this week the company announced its new Summit X770 top-of-rack (ToR) switch. The X770 is a 1RU switch but has a whopping 104 10 Gig-E ports on it, which makes it the highest-density 1 RU switch that I know of. Alternatively, customers can get 32–40 Gig-E ports from the switch.

Why might anyone need this many ports and that much bandwidth in a single RU switch? Well, the answer is bandwidth, and there’s certainly no shortage of new bandwidth-generating applications in the data center today. Extreme is focusing this particular switch on “Big Data” environments, which is a sound strategy given the momentum behind big data today and the reliance on the network.

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This morning, Extreme Networks announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Enterasys Networks for $180 million in cash. Extreme is funding the purchase by pulling $105 million from its $205 million of cash on hand and then borrowing $75 million from a new credit line established. Extreme will buy Enterasys from the Gore Group, which acquired the company back in 2006 for $386 million. Around the same time, Gore had acquired Siemens Enterprise with the idea of creating an organization that could deliver an “end-to-end” UC-data solution.

The concept was sound, but in practicality, the UC solutions from Siemens Enterprise are widely deployed on Cisco networks. Considering the challenges Siemens Enterprise has encountered while rebuilding its portfolio over the past five years or so, creating any kind of resistance in its customer base is the last thing the company needed. So, instead of pushing a combined Siemens Enterprise/Enterasys solution, the sales force gave customers what they wanted, which was Cisco most of the time.

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There’s a Katy Perry Song called “Waking Up in Vegas” in which the young Miss Perry sings “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is / that’s what you get for waking up in Vegas.” That first line, “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is,” should be the theme for Interop. Vendors all across the network market come to Mandalay Bay to show off their latest products and impress buyers, channel partners, media and Wall Street. The following is a list of vendors that I thought did indeed put their money where their mouth is (listed alphabetically):

Arista: Putting your money where your mouth is can be difficult most of the time, but it’s even more difficult when the mouth belongs to the enigmatic Doug Gourlay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Doug, he’s the marketing equivalent of Terrell Owens. He talks a lot, but normally delivers. Arista and Doug are constantly yapping about performance and the new 7500E Data Center switch certainly didn’t disappoint. This is one monster of a switch with off-the-charts high-speed port density. In a quarter rack, the 7500E has a port density of 1,152 10 Gig-E ports, 288 40 Gig-E ports, or 96 100 Gig-E ports. Remember, these densities are in a quarter rack. The product is also optimized for the virtual data center with VXLAN termination and a bunch of other features.

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Big Switch stole many of the networking headlines this week when it announced its Switch Light software release. Switch Light, based on the open source technology Indigo, can be used on commodity white box switches to create an OpenFlow-based switch than can be used as part of a software defined network implementation. One of the elements of the press release that I felt flew under the radar, was that Extreme Networks would be the only “mainstream” network vendor that was committing to this reference architecture for a rack switch.

Extreme will later this year introduce its Slalom switch, which will be an optimized SDN switch running the thin virtual network software. Slalom will complement Extreme’s Open Fabric portfolio that has a number of SDN-capable switches in both stackable and chassis-based forms. Slalom will be a 48-port Gig-E Ethernet switch that will be based on a “white box” solution.

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