Extreme's Purview Collects, Analyzes Network Data

The solution, which was used at the stadium during the Super Bowl, will give customers better insight into their networks, Extreme officials say.

Extreme Networks is rolling out a product that not only gives organizations greater visibility into application use and performance on their networks, but also turns that data into information that customers can use.

The new offering, called Purview, comes from technology Extreme inherited when it bought Enterasys Networks in September 2013 for $180 million. Purview is built on the company's own CoreFlow2 ASIC technology, and can be deployed by organizations as either a physical appliance or a virtual solution.

Purview is designed to gather information about what is going on throughout the network—not only what applications are being used, but such information as how those applications are being used by workers, what impact those applications are having on the network's resources and how the network is handling these applications. The product then aggregates the information, analyzes and characterizes it, and then reports back to network administrators.

The result is insight administrators can use regarding the applications running over the network, the users running them and the devices being used. The technology also turns the network from simply being a strategic connectivity infrastructure to being a strategic asset, Mike Leibovitz, director of mobility and applications at Extreme, told eWEEK.

Leibovitz likened networks to highways. Networks traditionally have told administrators how many cars were on the highway, and where they were entering or exiting.

"That's still impactful information," he said. "But we also see that what's really important right now is what's going on inside that car. What music are they listening to? Are they driving well or are they distracted?"

That is becoming increasingly important given not only the rapidly growing amount of data that is flowing across networks but also the rise of such trends as cloud computing, virtualization and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), which are increasingly reliant on the network. With Purview, organizations get the data they need from their networks in a way that makes it easy to consume and to act on to improve the network's performance and security and enhance the end-user experience, Leibovitz said.

These are key issues for organizations, according to a November 2013 survey of IT professionals done by Extreme. Sixty-four percent said a better user experience can lead to better business value, while 70 percent want networks to prioritize business apps, 71 percent need to improve troubleshooting and 52 percent want better visibility into the networks.

However, among the top challenges was the lack of usage details, as cited by 80 percent of respondents. Fifty-three percent said they receive complaints about performance, and 44 percent said poor performance results in lost revenues.

The CoreFlow2 ASIC technology provides the access to the information regarding application usage from traffic flowing across the network. Purview also includes an analytics engine for collecting and analyzing the collected information. The technology can be used with Extreme networking gear or Ethernet equipment from other vendors, and collects and analyzes data from the core of the network out to the edge.

"Purview integrates with any vendors, network infrastructure, wired/wireless [network] in providing insight into usage and performance of applications at any point in the network from the wireless edge to the deep core of the data center," Extreme President and CEO Chuck Berger said Feb. 5 during a conference call with analysts and journalists to discuss fourth-quarter financial numbers. "With open APIs, Purview can enter into any third-party application as well as either a data field or as an action for control point."

Extreme also has some customers using the technology, including the University of New Hampshire. However, the largest-profile organization is the National Football League, which is looking to use technology to enrich the fan experience at the stadium. Purview already is being used in the stadiums of the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, as well MetLife Stadium, which houses the New York Giants and Jets and was the host for the Super Bowl Feb. 2 between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.

The NFL and Extreme announced a partnership in January to improve the WiFi experience in stadiums, and the Super Bowl was a proof point, according to Extreme officials. At peak, 13,500 of the 82,529 fans at the Super Bowl had connected their mobile devices to the WiFi network and used up 3.2TB of data, according to the NFL.