Extreme Aims For 'Perfect Balance Of Networks'

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor is looking to create a "perfect balance of networks" with the new core, edge and wireless network solutions in its expanded portfolio.

According to Scott Lucas, Extreme's senior director of solutions marketing, enterprises are trying to balance the costs of purchase, installation and operations while also receiving powerful support for network challenges like convergence, mobility and security. With the releases on Monday, Extreme is hoping to help that balance. For VARs, that means networking gear that can act as an alternative to other big-name vendors and tools to develop more customized solutions for their customers.

"Striving for the perfect balance between costs and capabilities is the highest art of the network professional," Lucas said. "Without the right solutions, achieving that balance can be a tremendous challenge."

First among the releases is the new Summit X350 Series of fixed configuration Gigabit switches. The edge switches, which come in both 24 and 48 port models, are based on ExtremeXOS with Layer 2 switching functionality and edge security capabilities for desktop connectivity. The X350 Series runs the same software image as all other ExtremeXOS-based Summit edge switches to offer uniformity and operational simplicity, giving users a more consistent network design. The Summit X350 Series switches are available now and list at $1,795 for the 24-port model and $2,995 for the 48 port model.

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Along with the X350, Extreme on Monday also unveiled BlackDiamond 8800 C Series Modules of interface and management blades for its modular switches. The blades, which are backward compatible with older BlackDiamond 8800 family members, offer density for Gigabit and 10 Gig ports and field-upgradable Power over Ethernet (PoE) support. For integrated security, the BlackDiamond 8800 family also now supports the CLEAR-Flow rules engine, which until now was only available on Extreme's high-end core products. Using CLEAR-Flow, the 8800 family combines ready-to-use, integrated intrusion detection with a modifiable rules-based security capability. According to Lucas, these enhancements extend the service life of a switch, ultimately lowering operational expenses by integrating security and creating efficiency since they run on a single operating system. The BlackDiamond C Series modules are available now and interface modules start at just under $6,000.

While tackling the wired network, Extreme on Monday also broadened its wireless LAN offerings with a set of new access points that support the new 802.11n wireless standard. The new set of access points can be installed using standard PoE delivered on a single cable. Extreme also added new outdoor access points that can operate between -40 degrees Celsius and 70 degrees Celsius to its portfolio. The outdoor access points can also be installed with a single cable. For smaller wireless sites, Extreme also released the Summit WM20 WLAN controller to handle voice over wireless applications.

The Summit WM20 WLAN controller starts at $5,895 and is available now. Access points with 802.11n connectivity are available now for $1,299 and outdoor access points will be available in July for $2,499.

Lucas added that the latest Extreme releases can help VARs offer a consistent story and assume more of a trusted advisor role by offering alternatives to dominant networking players like Cisco Systems Inc.

"These are credible alternatives to the dominant providers," he said.

On the software side, Extreme on Monday also released the latest version of its ExtremeXOS network operating system, version 12.1. For more than a year, Extreme's operating system has included the Universal Port capability for event-driven switch automation, which enabled dynamic configuration of edge ports when devices connect or to conserve power and enhance security with planned PoE outages. ExtremeXOS 12.1 can take any event appearing in the switch's log file and use it to trigger an automated process.

To coincide with the ExtremeXOS updates, the vendor also launched a new software development kit (SDK) to enable VARs, users and partners to boost the capabilities of their ExtremeXOS through Web services-based interactions with the operating system. The SDK can help developers leverage a comprehensive set of application programming interfaces (APIs). So far, the interfaces have been used internally to integrate ExtremeXOS with Extreme's EPICenter management platform, the ScreenPlay on-switch management tool and the Sentriant NG threat detection and mitigation appliance.

Lastly, Extreme announced the launch of "Widget Central" an online resource that enables the exchange, development and modification of network enhancements through downloadable widgets. The enhancements can address deployment, monitoring, operations and optimization needs. The free online resource is designed to help balance acquisition costs, operational expenses and solutions capabilities, Lucas said.

At launch, Extreme has contributed more than 25 widgets and provides reference widgets for developers.

The widgets are broken into four categories: deployment, monitoring, operations and optimization. The deployment widgets can help users configure the network for specific security or convergence needs. Operations widgets let users react to network events, like the connection of a new handset to the network. Optimization widgets give users the tools to tune network performance, while monitoring widgets give them information on network health.

Lucas said the new SDK and the just-launched Widget Central can also act as differentiators to enable VARs to offer new services as a value add.

"Resellers can start now working with widgets and sell widget creation and modification as services," Lucas said. "And with the SDK, they can offer more, fully integrated services as well. They can build a more tailored and modifiable solution."

According to Lucas, all widgets are available for free download and can be modified to suit specific needs. Widgets can also be enhanced and shared among Extreme users.