In Round 4 Extreme Selects Aerohive Networks From Milpitas, CA
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
As many of you know, I do a fair amount of work with Extreme, and I actually got to working with Extreme by way of the acquisition of Enterasys Networks, formerly Cabletron. I grew to love the people at Enterasys and built my career on their product and software, and the identifi line of wireless and NetSight (now XMC) are still going strong within the purple giant.
Extreme has purchased quite a few companies over the past few years, but i'm still unsure what the integration plan is for a final go forward solution, if there is even going to be one. A few bits and pieces like Avaya Fabric and WiNG ADSP are getting pulled into other lines, but I haven't seen a coherent message that says "This product is where we are putting our resources and it's who we are moving forward." Without that messaging there is still a distinct possibility that all of these lines move forward to keep the customer bases that were acquired along with the product, and with an R&D budget thats spread across many product lines that can be a bleak future.
The announcement that Extreme was buying Aerohive caught me a bit by surprise, first because they already have 2 (count em) wireless lines, second because I thought Dell was going to buy Aerohive. There is also still a lot of uncertainty behind their previous acquisitions, but the more I dove into it, the more it made sense. and it makes sense for 2 very specific reasons.
Cloud - In a world of AI and ML and Blockchain and whatever other marketing terms you want to throw around Cloud seems like a given, but for Extreme it isn't. They have a very young cloud wireless offering that ticks a few neat boxes like a mini NAC solution built in, but has some glaring usability issues for those who love to tweak the wireless knobs. Enter Aerohive HiveManager, a fully featured, well thought out, mature, robust, cloud offering that not only checks the boxes, but has the best client health and history view I've ever seen. Pulling in some of the features from Extreme's cloud offering with more switch management functionality makes this a compelling offering.
SD-WAN / SD Branch - Extreme has nothing in this space. They've got a few MPLS endpoint routers from the Brocade side, and what looks like a new product for an Avaya Fabric extension WAN router (it doesn't have a datasheet yet) but nothing to compete with the Meraki MX line, or the more focused SD-WAN vendors like Silverpeak. Aerohive's branch routers, with auto-VPN, combined with Extreme's Fabric across the wired and wireless could actually make a case for a centrally managed, auto-provisioning, unified access network.
Picture a distributed retail environment. A cloud managed infrastructure running some future version of Extreme across the board, with a new site spinning up. Aerohive's SD branch device gets spun up and auto VPN establishes the first connection and a basic configuration is pushed down. An EXOS switch gets plugged in and hits with DHCP which triggers either Zero Touch Provisioning or Workflow Composer both of which can be run against a fresh out of the box EXOS switch. Fabric is now available on the switch and the APs auto provision the correct management and client VLANs using Fabric Attach. Combined with Extreme Policy/Control a secure, fully configured edge site just came up without having to configure a thing.
The only thing this future Extreme solution has that current Extreme doesn't is Extreme Management Center in the cloud and a tiny bit of integration. All of the other pieces are already there. Control/Policy already works with EXOS. They already own Stackstorm which runs Workflow composer. Fabric already works with both the wireless platform and the EXOS edge switches. All of the pieces are there, but the integration hasn't happened the way it needed to yet, so often times it feels like you are cobbling together products from multiple vendors when configuring. In reality that's exactly what you are doing since all of those products mentioned were built from different acquisitions.
The only thing left for Extreme to lead a glorious portfolio of zero touch is to actually invest in the integration. To make the hard decisions to cut some of the products they purchased so R&D investment can happen where it really matters, the future. Besides, do you really need 6 edge switching lines?