After teasing this new technology in its earnings call last week, Extreme Networks today moved into data center networking and management with its Agile Data Center solution. This is a bundled hardware and software platform that includes networking, automation, management, and analytics tools.
This includes data center switching and routing hardware acquired from Brocade. The SLX platforms represent “the latest and greatest merchant silicon out there, but the beauty is they are all adaptable and programmable hardware, which is the future of the data center,” said Nabil Bukhari, senior vice president of products at Extreme Networks.
“But the real fun is on the software side,” he added.
The software side includes Extreme Workflow Composer, which is the commercial version of the open source StackStorm automation platform, Extreme Management Center platform for single pane of glass network management and monitoring from edge to campus to data center, and ExtremeAnalytics dashboard, which also provides analytics and telemetry across the entire network.
Embedded fabric automation integrates with other automation tools such as Ansible, Puppet, and Chef.
And all of this is vendor agnostic, which eliminates lock-in and makes it easier for customer to build an open network that can adapt to changing business needs, Bukhari said. For example: Agile Data Center’s VMware vCenter integration accelerates application deployment through zero-touch virtual machine (VM) discovery, VM mobility, and VM server migration.
“We don’t just talk about the multi-vendor nature of our solutions, we actually show the proof point,” Bukhari said. “Our hardware will work with somebody else’s hardware and management system. Our applications will work with other toolchains be it from other vendors or open source. And you can use our software with other hardware as well. If our Extreme Management Center is supporting 100 devices, 50 are Extreme and 50 are not Extreme.”
Extreme customers run the gamut from mom-and-pop shops to half of the Fortune 50 including major cloud providers, Bukhari said. The new data center technology targets all of these groups, from customers still using the command line interface (CLI) to those using DevOps tools and others already using infrastructure-as-code that want to customize their network on top of Extreme.
Agile Data Center is scalable “not in a capacity point of view, but in a skillset point of view,” Bukhari said. “These are solutions that can scale from the click of a button to someone who wants to get into the guts of the code.”
Squaring Off Against Cisco
The new technology is also significant because it expands Extreme’s reach from edge wired and wireless, and campus, into data center networking. “When we acquired data center assets from Brocade, we brought in some really good capabilities as well as a pretty large install base,” Bukhari said. “Now Extreme is a pretty big player in the data center side, and we are creating this third pillar for our portfolio. The Agile Data Center launch is all about it.”
This sets up Extreme to better compete against the likes of Cisco, Arista Networks, and Juniper Networks. “But our solution goes more end to end,” Bukhari said about the competition. “We provide all the way from WiFi to the data center with simple operational models.”