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By the time Rodriguez was named to lead Extreme, Bob L. Corey, Extreme's former chief financial officer, had been acting president and CEO for nearly a year, following the exit of former CEO Mark Canepa and the elimination of 9 percent of Extreme's workforce during a fall 2009 restructuring. Extreme's financial position had weakened during that period, and many Extreme VARs felt the company's management and channel structure had fallen off course.
Rodriguez brings to Extreme a healthy networking and service provider background, as well as deep channel experience. He came to Extreme following a three-year stint as CEO of Movius Interactive, which focuses on messaging, collaboration and mobile media for service providers. Before that, he was chief marketing officer of Alcatel-Lucent's enterprise business group, president and CEO of Riverstone Networks (later sold to Lucent), and president of Nortel's enterprise solutions and intelligent internet divisions.
He joins the company in a solidifying period, one where, to hear Rodriguez tell it on Extreme's second quarter earnings call in late January, revenues are on the rise and he expects percentages to grow throughout the rest of the year.
At the time of the call, Extreme said it had eliminated 5 percent of its workforce -- about 35 employees -- as part of a plan to lower operating expenses by as much as $2 million per quarter and $8 million annually.
But growing revenue and profits also means focusing Extreme on vertical markets and technology areas where it is strong, and in discussion with CRN, Rodriguez highlighted education, cloud services, and service provider opportunities.
"A four-year college campus is a leading indicator of some of the things happening in enterprises in general," Rodriguez said of education. "Much of that is because of the fact that you have such a high turnover of staff and personnel accessing the network, a plethora of disparate devices and an area where great price performance is expected. That IT department at a 4-year college campus is going to be very busy, and you want to tailor the behavior of the network to the users' needs."
The telecom and managed services arenas, including cloud infrastructure and cloud services, are other areas rich with opportunity for Extreme, Rodriguez said. Providing the networking backbone for cloud and other services to be offered flexibly and conveniently -- and at reduced operational cost -- is an area where Extreme excels, and Rodriguez is looking to add data center cloud customers throughout the world as part of Extreme's push in those areas.
"Extreme is focused on being very efficient by relying on a single operating system, and we're very efficient in the way we deploy systems," he said. "Carriers needs something efficient and high performance. I think we're well-versed in where a lot of this needs to go."
Extreme does 95 percent of its business through channel partners, Rodriguez noted, and his goal for channel partners is strong products with a better marketing backstop.
"Arm them with data products focused in specific areas to let them win, and the marketing goes with that. I'm not trying to do very horizontal marketing like we've done in the past, but put wood behind the arrow and make ourselves prominent," he said. "We need to give them the air cover and the lift they need. What's been missing is 'What is the product strategy and how does it solve the problem of a particular customer set?'"
NEXT: Partners Encouraged By Rodriguez's Early Efforts