Extreme Networks Warranty Program Challenges Cisco, HP

Extreme Networks is unveiling a new limited lifetime warranty program for a number of fixed edge switches and an Ethernet port extender as it looks to differentiate itself from larger competitors such as Cisco and HP's ProCurve business. The warranty comes at a time when the global recession is forcing businesses to look at such aspects as price and TCO when considering technology buys.

Extreme Networks officials are hoping that a new limited lifetime warranty on selective switches and an Ethernet port extender will give the company greater traction in the highly competitive networking space.

Extreme Networks on Aug. 3 announced the warranty program on new purchases of its Summit fixed edge switches and ReachNXT Ethernet port extender.

The vendor expects the new warranty program-combined with other technical support programs and other hardware and software warranties-to be a key differentiator from rivals such as Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve business, Huy Nguyen, director of marketing for convergence technologies at Extreme, said in an interview.

In addition, with the issue of warranties no longer a concern for customers, Extreme will be able to highlight the technological differences between its products and those of competitors.

"When we compare ourselves against the bigger players ... we stand well above [Cisco] and we're comparable to HP," Nguyen said. "Especially in this economy, customers are always looking to increase efficiency and reduce their [operating expenses] and [capital expenses] as well."

At a time when the global recession is contracting IT budgets, networking vendors are competing in the area of cost as well as product capabilities. HP ProCurve officials earlier this month suggested that Cisco is pushing partners to meet ProCurve pricing in order to win or keep customers. Cisco officials said they aren't looking to get into a price war with HP ProCurve, but stood behind the message delivered at the Cisco Partner Summit in June that they "refuse to lose" against HP in the networking space.

Analysts have said that the struggling economy worldwide could help Cisco competitors, who are looking more closely at price as a factor when deciding what products to buy. HP officials agreed, saying that Cisco is no longer an automatic choice.

Extreme Networks' LLW eAHR (limited lifetime warranty express advanced hardware replacement) program covers the Summit X150, X250e, X350 and X4450e fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet switches, and the ReachNXT 100-8t Ethernet port extenders, retroactive to purchases on or after June 29.

Key changes to Extreme Networks' warranty offering include next-day shipping for hardware replace, rather than 10 days; lifetime software warranty, instead of 90 days; and technical support, which wasn't offered in the previous warranty program.

"This will make us more competitive in the market," Nguyen said.