Extreme Networks Partners Placing 'Big Bet' On Growth Opportunity From Vendor's Expanded Portfolio

Solution providers are betting big on Extreme Networks as the vendor makes its biggest enterprise networking push in years thanks to a new portfolio and unified Partner Program aimed to unite and reward Avaya, Brocade, Zebra and Extreme partners to drive new sales.

David Rafftery, managing partner at Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based Extreme and top Avaya partner ranked No. 129 on CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500 list, said his company is "diving deeper" into Extreme than ever before following Extreme's acquisition of Avaya's networking business earlier this year.

"This is a partnership that we're going to place a big bet on because we see it as a major growth opportunity for us," said Rafftery, noting that the company's Extreme business is on track to grow 35 percent in 2017 compared to last year. "Extreme wants to give customers choice, and they're going to take the best of their acquisitions and offer them in a way that is very different from the competition. Cisco has a strategy that, on paper, is very similar to Extreme. … The reality is, no enterprise networking company today actually has a single pane of glass other than Extreme. We didn't truly understand that before."

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James Marsh, chief revenue officer and owner of Exeter, R.I.-based Carousel Industries, a solution provider that teams with Cisco, Extreme and Avaya and is ranked No. 61 on CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500, said his Extreme sales grew by "double digits" during the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

"We've already done some very unique things with Extreme. What they've done through the Zebra, Brocade and Avaya pieces will increase their mindshare internally here at Carousel," said Marsh. "Size and scale are completely necessary in today's world. It really changes their client's vision of them and their viewpoint of the market."

A few years ago, Marsh said, Extreme was a niche-type networking player. Now, Extreme must be "considered in any large deployment."

"They're touching a lot of additional clients that they have not touched in a long, long time," said Marsh. "As they're touching more of our client base now, we've just got to go out and tell the story with them."

Key technologies Extreme acquired over the past 12 months include Avaya's fabric technology, Brocade's switching, routing and analytics data center solutions, as well as Zebra's wireless LAN and security portfolio.

Partners touted Extreme's new network fabric technology as a clear market differentiation.

"The Avaya networking story and their fabric is a very key story for Extreme moving forward. Getting that integrated into the corporate go-to-market solution set means it’s a very exciting time to be an Extreme partner," said Marsh.

Bill Smeltzer, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Focus Technology Solutions, a Seabrook, N.H.-based Extreme partner, said the vendor's data center business wasn't up to snuff with competitors such as Cisco and Arista Networks.

"With the Brocade acquisition now, it brings a lot of legitimacy to them in the data center space. That was an area where they were definitely weak," said Smeltzer. "They're definitely going to be a bigger player. I think they can offer best-of-breed [products] in the data center and in the wireless space thanks to what Zebra brings in."

Smeltzer said Extreme is already matching the likes of Cisco Meraki and Hewlett Packard Enterprise/Aruba Networks in the campus and cloud management arena. "I do think it's a whole new Extreme with a well-rounded portfolio," he said.

Partners are also pumped up to bring Extreme's solution set into new verticals like retail and transportation thanks to new technology acquired from Zebra. Extreme has said it added a $1.3 billion new market opportunity for the channel thanks to the Zebra acquisition.

"They've completely changed the game with the Zebra and Brocade technology. Their offer has expanded and brings into play so many more verticals that just make sense," said Kevan Akers, sports technology executive at Bedford, N.H.-based BEI Net.Works, who partners with Extreme. "They're more of a one-stop shop now."