Extreme Networks vies for No. 2 in enterprise networks

Educational institutions are using Extreme's technology to upgrade Wi-Fi on campuses. (Pixabay)

After a streak of acquisitions—including the closure earlier this month of Aerohive Networks’ Wi-Fi assets—Extreme Networks remains confident that it can move from the No.3 position in enterprise networking to the No. 2 position. Currently, the No. 1 position is held by Cisco, and HPE/Aruba is No. 2.

What gives it that level of confidence? “The answer is they’re focused on a lot of stuff, and we’re focused on the enterprise,” said Norman Rice, chief marketing, development and product operations officer at Extreme. In addition, “We believe we have differentiated technology,” through automation and customer intimacy, he said.

“We believe enterprises are increasingly making independent decisions on their technologies,” and they’re looking for the best outcome rather than being locked into the incumbent or the primary provider, he said.

He points to the success of Arista, which has been successful going up against Cisco in the data center business. “We are the scenario for the modern enterprise,” he said.

RELATED: Extreme Networks to acquire Aerohive for $272M

To say that Extreme Networks has been on an acquisition tear is putting it mildly. It acquired the wireless LAN business from Zebra Technologies in 2016, and followed that with acquisitions of Avaya’s networking business and Brocade’s data center networking business. The Aerohive purchase came just as the industry is transitioning to Wi-Fi 6.

It hasn’t always been rosy. One of the challenges the company identified was the immaturity of its infrastructure, according to Rice. “We made those investments, and really created a very robust infrastructure to be able to scale… We went from near-last place in terms of operational efficiency and supply chain to right at the top," he said, acknowledging challenges along the way. 

The company likes to point out that it managed to move from the No. 13 spot in enterprise networking to the No. 3 spot in a few short years.  

To top things off, it’s the official Wi-Fi provider for the NFL, for which it also provides Wi-Fi analytics. It has provided Wi-Fi for several Super Bowls, and it will continue to do so for the next three at least. Extreme Networks currently provides Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi analytics solutions to 25 stadiums in the NFL. For several years, it’s also been working with Verizon in a number of venues, both NFL and non-NFL.

According to Extreme, its Smart OmniEdge solutions power critical game-day operations for many NFL teams, including mobile ticketing, point-of-sale (POS) devices, heating and cooling systems, in-stadium digital signage, IPTV, and video surveillance technologies.

Earlier this year, Extreme introduced new stadium-caliber Wi-Fi 6 access points that are designed to work with the unique physical characteristics of stadiums and other large public venues. The series of access points includes options for under-seat and overhead mounting, as well as remote antennae programmability, giving IT teams the ability to fine-tune coverage as needed.

“It’s such a terrific example of putting our technology on display,” Rice said. “That’s the new frontier.”