It’s been a tumultuous year for Extreme Networks amid layoffs and a shuffling of its executive team, but the company can show some progress on the software-defined data center (SDDC) front, where it has deepened its partnership with VMware.
San Jose, California-based Extreme previously worked with VMware in 2009 when it did an API integration with VMware’s vCenter servers. More recently, in August, Extreme announced it had joined the VMware NSX ecosystem. Today’s news is around the blending of Extreme’s NetSight network management system with the VMware vRealize Suite.
The collaborative effort, which built upon the original vCenter integration, is designed to use network “tap points” to allow IT administrators to cut costs on traditional tap products as well as provide them with increased visibility into the performance of applications and application flows.
Three kinds of integration are afoot between vRealize and Extreme’s wireless and analytics portfolio, says Markus Nispel, Extreme Networks’ vice president of solutions architecture and innovation.
The first is with the vRealize Operations Manager Content Pack, which Nispel says provides single-pane-of-glass management around the SDDC from storage to virtual and physical networking.
The second is with VMware’s vRealize Orchestrator and vRealize Automation Plug-In. Extreme can plug its API framework into the vRealize orchestrator and automation system “so the admin can define their own workflows on how they want to deploy virtual machines and services inside of the data center,” Nispel says. Admins can also decide how they want to expose application services to their own users in the form of a private-cloud infrastructure.
The last piece of the integration puzzle is with vRealize Log Insight, which provides real time operation and performance analytics of network applications through Extreme Analytics.
Partnering with VMware is a feather in Extreme Networks’ cap, but the year got off to a rough start when it announced in May that it was laying off 285 employees, which was roughly 18 percent of its workforce.
In April, Ed Meyercord replaced Chuck Berger as Extreme’s new CEO, which was the same month that three Extreme executives announced their resignations. John Kispert, a six-year board member, was appointed chairman in August.
In May, Meyercord said in a conference call that Extreme needed to sell its products in groups — across wireless, wireline, management, policy control and analytics use cases — instead of being just a supplier of wired switches.
Extreme started down its software-defined networking (SDN) path by relying on OpenFlow, but Nispel says Extreme is now focusing on a more standards-based approach to SDN by using OpenDaylight as a core controller component. Extreme is combining that core controller with components that previously made up its early SDN architecture.
Nispel says Extreme’s direction didn’t change with the new executive team, “but the push towards more software solutions and go-to-market activities accelerated.” SDN isn’t a technology that sells itself, he says. While SDN is a small percentage of sales, the software-driven approach to networking on top of infrastructure, wired or wireless, is substantial to the company’s overall revenues, he says.
“The new management team is certainly embracing that approach, and we’re trying to scale that throughout our organization,” Nispel says. “It applies to SDN technologies, but also software solutions as well. That includes management, security and other things.”