The release of Gartner’s most recent wired and wireless magic quadrant marked a significant and (hopefully) lasting turning point for Extreme Networks. Extreme, who have not featured prominently in recent iterations, found themselves to the far right of the ‘visionary’ sector. In fact, only HP, bolstered by the recent acquisition of Aruba, found themselves placed farther right on the ‘completeness of vision’ horizontal axis. Extreme, it seems, are finally getting the recognition they so deserve.
Having talked of little else but networking in the last 5 years, the next few months will represent the first time in my career I have encouraged my customers to read the latest Gartner magic quadrant. Enterasys Networks (my first role in the industry and acquired by Extreme in Nov 2013) were another company that found themselves somewhat overlooked by Gartner and its analyst community. Other analysts such as InfoTech found fit to place Enterasys’ products in its ‘champion’ quadrants – its Network access control and Network Management products being the most notable examples. InfoTech however, no matter how reputable the research, are not Gartner, nor do they have the industry so feverishly clamouring for their latest report. For many, Gartner is the manual by which they choose their vendor, buy their equipment and build their network, finally achieving positive recognition from Gartner represents a huge leap forward for Extreme and its continued success.
When Extreme Networks acquired Enterasys Networks in November 2013 the industry reacted by speculating on the potential of the newly merged portfolio. Extreme brought its high end Wired platform to the table whilst Enterasys was purchased for its expertise in Wireless, Network Management and Network Access Control. The merger of the two portfolio’s represented a genuine amalgamation of what could be considered to be best of breed product sets in their respective areas, the potential of a combined Extreme/Enterasys portfolio was always clear to see. Fast forward 2 years and the Enterasys (red) and Extreme (purple) product sets have been merged at an admirable pace. The most recent Extreme access layer switch represents the convergence of the wired portfolio, a mix of Extreme’s inherent high performance and scalability with Enterasys’s ‘policy’ – akin to a firewall per port feature that heavily differentiated Enterasys as a wired vendor. The old Extreme Network management platform, Ridgeline, has been replaced by its Enterasys equivalent, Netsight, a comprehensive and unified management platform for all products in the combined portfolio as well as complimentary third party products. Alongside this rapid integration of the two portfolios Extreme have also brought application analytics to the market in the form of Purview, a layer 7 aware analytics engine allowing customers to better understand application delivery and to tie QoS to different applications. Purview, based on proprietary Enterasys ASIC technology now represents a clear and tangible differentiator in the Extreme portfolio, particularly with the ongoing explosion of the Application Economy and the Internet of Things.
The acquisition of 2013 is bearing fruit, the Extreme portfolio as it sits today can challenge the traditional network heavyweights, HP and Cisco, across the public and private sectors, from SME’s to the largest enterprise customers. Extreme continue to prove their credentials in the healthcare and higher education markets in particular, healthcare representing one of the most complex IP environments in the UK today and a market in which Extreme find themselves at the forefront of networking best practice and sustained innovation. The endorsement of Gartner coupled with this continued and demonstrable innovation should see Extreme’s stock rise even higher in the marketplace, proving the Extreme portfolio to be an increasingly viable competitor of Cisco and HP and a technology that deserves investigation.