Extreme Roadmap Plots Broader View of Mobility

Extreme Networks' new product roadmap has a catchy name -- Make Your Network Mobile -- but it might be a little misleading since the plan has little to do with iPhones, tablets or moving around between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

By Tim Greene
Thu, March 03, 2011

Network World — Extreme Networks' new product roadmap has a catchy name -- Make Your Network Mobile -- but it might be a little misleading since the plan has little to do with iPhones, tablets or moving around between cellular and Wi-Fi networks.

But it does have to do with creating consistent intelligence within its range of products that the company says will lead to better end-user experiences as they work from mobile devices that are connected to networks built on Extreme gear.

IN DEPTH: How Extreme did in our test of 10G bps Ethernet switches

"That's a broader way of defining mobility," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with the Yankee Group. "Mobility means motion, not just wireless. To be mobile, you have to be able to re-create the same user experience from device to device."

The initiative is more about mobile applications, the mobility of virtual machines and making sure the network that supports them delivers a high quality user experience, says Rohit Mehra, an analyst with IDC.

"Applications can move from one virtual machine to another virtual machine within the same data center, and you need an efficient network behind it," he says.

Extreme says its roadmap will unfold in five phases over three or four years.

Much of what's in it is similar to what competitors Cisco, HP (HPQ), Juniper and others already have or are planning, Mehra says, but often Extreme has better pricing. "If you're using an alternative solution and want a second vendor you certainly want to look at how the total costs of ownership compare," he says. "Compare and contrast your current needs against what Extreme has today and what is on the roadmap short-term and medium-term."

Kerravala says the roadmap calls for wireless LAN enhancements, APIs into Extreme's operating system to customize switch features and more vision in data center architecture, but if the company can pull it off, it could attract customers. "Right now it's an execution challenge for Extreme," he says.

Upgrades to specific products that will roll out this year include adding black and white lists to Extreme's Identity Manager software. It will also support creation of security zones defined by IP and MAC addresses and subnet. These zones can be associated with policies so, for example, a guest could be denied access to an internal zone.

The company plans to expand its support for the virtual Ethernet port aggregator standards as they develop. VEPA enables physical switches to take on the role of virtual switches, and Extreme will expand its support to more vendors of NICs and servers.

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