Extreme Networks boosts ExtremeCloud IQ with new portable subscription, curated kits

Extreme Networks thinks its new initiatives to promote ExtremeCloud IQ will be disruptive on their own terms, and will also be well suited to the particular short-term environment created by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the heels of a 40% expansion of its ExtremeCloud IQ unified management platform over the last twelve months, Extreme Networks has been adding additional measures to drive growth further in the context of today’s challenging market. Their Pilot subscription model simplifies things to provide full portability across the entire Extreme portfolio of products, at $USD 150 per switch or access point. They have also introduced new Portable Branch Kits [PBK] and Rapid Outdoor Connectivity Kits [ROCK] with curated use cases around ExtremeCloud IQ, while enabling partners to design new ones of their own. The new initiatives include elements tailored to the temporary at-home work environments dictated by the coronavirus, although the basic contours of the strategy were put in place before it become an issue.

“We have been committed to extending ExtremeCloud IQ across the portfolio from the edge to the data centre,” said Abby Strong, Extreme Networks’ VP of Product Marketing.

ExtremeCloud IQ, which was unveiled last fall, is a rebranding of the Aerohive Hive Manager cloud management application that Extreme acquired with AeroHive last summer. It is being integrated throughout the entire Extreme cloud portfolio, with the WiFi component the first to be completed.

“We have upgraded the solution to a true fourth generation cloud platform, with microservices running in containers, and with Kubernetes,” Strong indicated. “It can orchestrate containers wherever customers want to run them. It’s on AWS and GCP now, and Azure is coming, starting in EMEA at the end of the quarter.  It’s a hybrid cloud solution that’s completely platform-agnostic. We also added new functionality allowing partners to build additional services and business on top.  They can build a managed services practice of top of ExtremeCloud IQ, and put together packages – even if partners cant go on site like they used to to sell a solution.”

Over the last twelve months, ExtremeCloud IQ adoption has grown by 40%. Today, it manages over a million devices, with an average of over 25,000 administrator logins per day.

“That 40% growth is coming mostly on the back of Wi-Fi, which is a very mature market,” Strong said. “So that’s very significant growth in a market that is well established. Usually growth in a mature market is between 5-10%. There is also  huge potential for more because while the majority of our install base has been switching to cloud, there still hasn’t been a lot of attachment to the cloud yet. So that will make it easier to attach. So while the growth rate on Wi-Fi is very good, on the switching side there’s a lot of potential, which could see the growth rate go even higher.”

Strong is optimistic that the new ExtremeCloud IQ Pilot subscription model will play a key part in driving additional growth.

“We recently announced the ability to sell that ExtremeCloud IQ subscription for $150 across our entire family of edge switches and access points regardless of device,” she said. “They can mix and match it for edge to data centre. That’s unique to us. It also extends across public cloud, private cloud or on-prem with a cloud subscription.”

Strong emphasized that the $150 per access point or router is a very compelling price point.

“It’s incredibly competitive compared to what the market is used to,” she said. “It’s usually relatively inexpensive to manage access points, and that price range is normal for APs. But switches are all over the place, and some can be $1200-1300 per year per device.”

“What we are really saying to the market place is that no longer is access to the cloud determined by the expense of your piece of equipment,” said Kyle Brown, Director of the  Americas Channel Team  at Extreme Networks. “It doesn’t cost us any more to put a data centre switch in the cloud than an AP. So we want to level the playing field and make it affordable. We are allowing access to the cloud where if your needs change after you buy it, you can apply the cost to the new equipment. We have both simplified it, and made it accessible to all customers.”

The new PBK and ROCK kits were inspired by some of the lessons learned as the lockdown began.

“We quickly realized there is a lot of functionality around ExtremeCloud IQ that has not been fully developed in the past,” Strong said. “For instance, it could do remote networking, but in the past, it just wasn’t that important to our campus customers. It was used to enable teleworkers when there weren’t that many of those and do things like hook up a trailer in a schoolyard. We have now switched the focus to make these uses a main emphasis.” She noted that ROCK came about from healthcare use cases which needed to quickly build triage tents.

“One of the great things here is the curated kits,” Brown said. “They met 90% of customers’ needs, but another 10% needed customization from our channel partners. That has been a big boost to our partners, letting them solve these customers’ problems.”

Extreme has also modified its partner enablement activities to adjust to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We have made it easier to extend financing, and take cloud training,” Strong indicated. “The training has been in-person and instructor led for 3-4 days. In this environment, we have made it free and put it online, together with a forum.

“We have also extended partner tiering a current levels through the end of the year,” Brown added. “In addition, we have suspended the need for certification training since September. We want to remove as much stress as possible

Extreme has also gotten more creative in terms of offering extended financing terms of financing, and has gotten more aggressive with Extreme Capital on extended terms, leasing programs, and the subscription licensing.

“We want to make sure it’s fully utilized at a time where cash flow is very uncertain,” Strong said.

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