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Recapping Extreme Connect: Extreme Networks’ with Forward-Looking Customers

I recently attended Extreme Connect, Extreme Networks’ annual tech conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Extreme Connect is an event that brings networking users together with Extreme execs and product leaders. It was quickly clear that the event was popular, given the standing-room-only breakout sessions and level of activity and buzz at the venue.

While the Extreme Connect event attracted a global audience, including customers from Africa and South Korea, a significant number of cowboy hats and boots were visible in the crowd. In fact, Norman Rice, chief commerce officer, embraced the local dress code and added spurs to his iconic purple Converse sneakers as he hosted day one of the event.

Given the technical audience, Chief Product Officer, Nabil Bukhari delivered the day one keynote where he covered the major themes around connectivity, security, and AI were introduced. There was also a fourth theme that emerged as the event progressed and it was about being future-focused.

Extreme Connect Announcements

Extreme Connect featured several announcements from the Extreme Networks team, including:

First Vendor with Outdoor Wi-FI 6E Deployments to Receive Standard Power Grant. Extreme Networks’ receipt of a standard power grant will be a game-changer for outdoor connectivity. Extreme’s AP5050 Universal Wi-Fi 6E access points is good news for customers, who should experience faster speeds, lower latency, more power, more coverage, and increased capacity for outdoor connectivity in partnership with Wi-Fi Alliance Services.

The approval for Extreme to leverage AFC or automated frequency control enables organizations to activate the standard power setting and the 6GHz frequency for outdoor and indoor use. (before this Low Power Indoor (LPI) has been used in Wi-Fi 6E solutions). This is important for several reasons.

First, organizations that have previously purchased Extreme’s 6E-enabled access points for outdoor use can simply turn on that additional capability. It should be noted that AFC outdoor approval is currently rolling out in the US, with Canada and other countries to follow.

Second, Extreme’s AFC certification ensures there is no frequency overlap or interference with existing incumbent providers and requires that an APs GPS location is verified every 24 hours to ensure continued interference-free operations for incumbent users of the 6GHz spectrum. Using standard power indoors requires additional engineering support, as GPS sensors don’t always work deep inside a building. To overcome that Extreme leverages APs near the exterior and positioning technology to report on those AP locations. Special thanks to Wi-Fi Guru David Coleman for his insights on these topics.

Extreme also rolled enhanced visualization solutions for Wi-Fi environments that are in 3-D and incorporate height. The solution also enables organizations to perform real-time what if analysis to optimize placement of APs.

Extreme Networks’ Universal Zero Trust Network (ZTNA) Now in Limited Availability. Extreme Networks’ Universal ZTNA limited availability announcement acknowledges the growing convergence of network and security functions, which is becoming increasingly important in highly distributed IT and employee environments. Extreme customers can now sign up to replace existing Network Access Control (NAC) and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) with uZTNA. This should reduce costs and drive operational efficiency as operations teams can leverage a centralized cloud to create access and security policies.

AI, Ecosystems, and Customers

Extreme Connect day two keynotes began with a new Extreme Connect host, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Monica Kumar. While Monica may not have had purple sneakers with spurs, the blinged-out denim jacket made up for it.

Extreme formally announced Extreme Labs, designed as a hub for research, development, and innovation in networking, which will serve to drive innovation and partner integration. To highlight this new capability, Nabil hosted a panel session with representatives from Microsoft and Intel.

As a result of this alliance, Extreme announced the Extreme AI Expert, a gen AI solution that delivers network optimization and cost savings for the design, deployment, and management of enterprise networking and security, featuring the ability to get visibility from the endpoint up using an Intel NIC.

Extreme demonstrated the power of the forthcoming Gen AI solution that leverages all of its manuals, technical documents, and TAC use cases, as well as the ability to leverage customer environment-specific information. This solution will enable organizations to query issues and quickly search the entire extreme data lake. One of the important features that CTO, EMEA, Markus Nispel highlighted was that it was a multimodal generative AI solution. So, it wasn’t just to bring back text-based answers, but also video and images. When used to query problems within the Extreme Wi-Fi environment at the event, Extreme AI Network was able to generate custom charts, which will enable organizations to rapidly see analysis in customized reports. To ensure credibility, trust, and relevance, the solution will cite sources and provide links to them. This capability is currently in tech preview, and customers should be able to get their hands on it soon when it moves to beta.

Final Thoughts on Extreme Connect

Overall, my impressions from Extreme Networks’ Extreme Connect 2024 event were positive. I’m glad to see that Extreme has moved past the prior integration hurdles and is now focused on what comes next for networking.

This was evident from the product announcements and innovations noted above and also confirmed by many of the customers Extreme Networks’ CEO Ed Meyercord and others highlighted at the event.

For example, the CIO of the State of Texas highlighted the importance of having a forward-looking strategy, or the Living Tomorrow organization that focuses solely on advanced technology for better living.

Kroger highlighted not only the importance of innovative and scalable technology, but shared that another critical factor in their relationship with Extreme Networks was their desire to work with another company as invested as the team at Kroger is in ensuring the best possible outcomes for customers.

It is also good to see Extreme continuing to expand its presence in Major League Baseball stadiums, with the San Francisco Giants reportedly moving to an Extreme Wi-Fi solution.

Moving forward, it is critical for to continue to innovate, execute against its roadmap, and remain committed to its customers’ success in order to differentiate itself and grow its share in the highly competitive network space. If Extreme Networks can continue to be forward-looking and turn customers into Extreme evangelists, like the ones we heard from at Extreme Connect, they are on the right track.

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