Although technology companies today are working hard to be more customer-focused, customers emphasis on doing more with less "doesnt attract big investment," he said. Those customers "get short term pain relief, but thats temporary. You need really long-term, vision-driven pain relief. You need your vendor to give you big-time innovation. You need vendors that can listen between the lines and hear unvoiced frustration because you think theres no other way," he said."Big innovations come from companies with a distinctive vision. The greatest advancements come from companies willing to buck industry beliefs," he said. Although ATM was promoted as the only technology that could allow for the convergence of voice, video and data on a single network infrastructure, Extreme looked at its ability to scale and at its complexity and realized it would not work on a broad scale. The alternative was to combine quality of service with Ethernet. Its about expanding your field of vision. Its amazing what you see when you step back to look at the big picture," he said. In going back to his wireless example, Stitt noted that the challenges facing enterprises wont end with wireless. "The big idea isnt wireless. The vision is based on finding a way to integrate wireless and wired into a seamless network and further optimize mobility without creating more problems or increasing the complexity and vulnerability of the network. You need integrated scaleability, and security, and you want to handle changes at a software level and still manage the network from a single console," he said. Stitt posed another question: "Is it possible to seize opportunity during an economic downturn?"
As an example, he noted the dance of vendors and network consumers who years earlier pushed for faster routers for their backbone LAN architectures, which were a concentration point for a lot of network traffic. Rather than focus on incremental performance improvements in routers, one startup realized the problem was about creating faster networksnot routers. That startup, Extreme Networks, figured out how to build Layer 3 switches, which were less complex and costly than high-end routers or Asynchronous Transfer Mode switches, and the rise of those cheaper and faster switches "paved the way to the Web applications that are vital to businesses today," he said.