Recently, Extreme Networks announced that it has expanded its cloud footprint by enabling ExtremeCloud IQ across its edge solutions, including the X465 stackable switch platform, X440-G2 family of switches, and ExtremeWireless access points and controllers.
Furthermore, the company added a new generation of Wi-Fi 6 access points (APs) and the ExtremeCloud Appliance to the portfolio, which will be integrated into ExtremeCloud IQ in the coming months with extra machine learning/artificial intelligence (ML/AI) capabilities. The cloud platform that powers ExtremeCloud IQ came from Extreme's Aerohive acquisition, which closed in August 2019. Given that was less than a year ago, the speed at which it was able to bring other Extreme products under cloud management is certainly impressive.
With so many relying on remote connectivity due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the traditional approach to networking is no longer sufficient for maintaining business continuity. Instead, businesses are choosing cloud-managed networking, so they can easily deploy and oversee their infrastructure in a unified way, regardless of location.
How COVID-19 Has Changed the Approach to Business Continuity
COVID-19 has changed the very definition of business continuity. Historically, business continuity was focused on maintaining just the core business processes for a defined period of time, such as a week or even a month. COVID-19 has shifted the focus to maintaining full operations for an undefined period of time. Given employees are now scattered everywhere and the cloud and mobility are enabling the new definition of business continuity, the network has become the most critical element of success, making cloud management of the network a must-have.
Cloud-managed networking is typically delivered as a subscription-based service hosted in the cloud for any network infrastructure, whether it’s wired or wireless. With this approach, administrators can control network devices like wireless access points and switches in real time from a single console. They can make changes and troubleshoot problems from anywhere, without having to install additional costly management hardware.
Given that network administrators are now working from home, a cloud portal enables them to manage the network as easily from home as if they were in the company’s network operations center (NOC). Even when the IT staff is back in the office, cloud management centralizes control and lets high-level engineers make changes, troubleshoot or perform other tasks wherever they are, removing any lag in service.
Real-World Example of This in Action
Brainerd Baptist School, a private elementary school in Tennessee, shifted to a distance-learning model during the coronavirus outbreak. The school is using ExtremeCloud IQ, a unified management platform from Extreme Networks, to perform firmware upgrades that were originally planned for the summer. The IT administrators are able to make the upgrades from home without disrupting virtual classrooms, since they have a 360-degree view of network health and performance.
ExtremeCloud IQ is unique in that it’s both cloud-hosting agnostic and cloud operating-system agnostic. It utilizes ML and AI to simplify different functions of network infrastructure devices—such as onboarding, configuration, monitoring, managing, troubleshooting, alerting and reporting. The infusion of AI/ML is critical today for troubleshooting as even the best network engineers can’t analyze the massive amounts of data being generated by modern network equipment. AI/ML algorithms not only can analyze the data but provide the necessary insights to proactively change the network to solve problems before they are business impacting.
To date, ExtremeCloud IQ manages more than 1 million devices, with an average of 25,000 administrator logins daily. The platform also processes more than 4 billion management messages each day, and the collected data feeds its ML/AI engine.
Businesses can choose from two ExtremeCloud IQ options, depending on their needs. ExtremeCloud IQ Connect is designed for basic device management and is free with any supported hardware platform. ExtremeCloud IQ Pilot builds on all the features of ExtremeCloud IQ Connect and provides advanced infrastructure management, reporting and ML/AI-driven insights and analytics. Extreme Networks is offering 90 days of data perspective for every customer who purchases the Pilot subscription starting in May 2020.
Cloud-Driven Networking a Reality for All Businesses
Extreme Networks said it wants to make cloud-driven networking a reality for all businesses, so they can quickly provision and manage connectivity remotely. Now in a time of crisis, the company introduced new portable branch kits (PBKs) and rapid outdoor connectivity kits (ROCKs). Essential organizations such as hospitals can use these kits to extend secure wireless connectivity to pop-up testing sites or medical tents, while maintaining HIPAA compliance. The kits consist of cloud-managed Wi-Fi 6 solutions that are affordable for hospitals to deploy at remote sites and enable encrypted access to enterprise networks.
Businesses must be prepared and react quickly to remote connectivity needs in situations like the current coronavirus outbreak. With more options for cloud-managed networking becoming available, businesses can stay up and running by proactively monitoring the health of their networks.
Many of the changes driven by COVID-19 are here to stay, and the way networks are managed is one of them. Extreme’s portfolio and related cloud management are ideally suited to help companies get through the current pandemic but create a solid foundation for the near future.
Zeus Kerravala is an eWEEK regular contributor and the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He spent 10 years at Yankee Group and prior to that held a number of corporate IT positions.