Extreme Targets Wireless Market With New Partner Program, Product Features

Extreme's new Purple Air Partner Program reaches out to new and existing channel partners focused on wireless with discounted demo equipment, training and certification. The company is also limiting membership in the program to about two partners per major geographic region, giving those partners exclusive access to the program's benefits for about six months.

"We're looking for the partners with tremendous RF [Radio Frequency] skills," said Scott Lucas, director of marketing at Extreme, Santa Clara, Calif. "We would also like to see some new partners from the community of solution providers focused on wireless that haven't really had reason to partner with us before," he said.

The vendor's wireless push is supported by the extension of its Unified Access architecture to its Alpine 3800 switches, which adds native wireless support and Power over Ethernet (PoE) to the modular Layer 3 platform.

Wireless and PoE features are already available via the Unified Access architecture on Extreme's Summit 300 fixed-configuration switches.

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Through a software upgrade, Extreme is also expanding the capabilities of the architecture to concurrently support dual-mode 802.11 a/b/g wireless protocol deployments, adding new security features and rolling out RF Manager, a site planning tool that helps solution providers and customers determine access point placement to ensure wireless network coverage.

The new features make the Alpine switch more flexible and open up opportunities for Extreme's partners to win wireless and IP telephony deployments that were previously difficult to target, said Mike Miller, vice president at solution provider Consultrix Technologies, Ridgeland, Miss.

For example, Consultrix wants to more heavily target the hotel industry with wireless solutions, Miller said. "They've got to have Internet access for guests, but the cost to retrofit existing properties with Ethernet cabling is huge," Miller said.

In addition to new wireless opportunities, partners should also have more success selling Extreme networking equipment as part of IP telephony solutions with the expansion of PoE capabilities to the Alpine product line, said Varun Nagaraj, vice president of product management at Extreme.

"The [IP telephony] market is in the early growth phase. The numbers all look good, so now is the right time for us to expand our offering," Nagaraj said.

The PoE module for the Alpine line is slated for availability next month for $2,995. The wireless feature pack, scheduled for availability this summer, is priced at $1,995. Pricing for RF Manager, available now, starts at $4,995.