October 15, 2015

Extreme Ranks in the Top 3rd of Gartner Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Report

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Gartner has examined the capabilities of wired and wireless local-area network vendors to address common enterprise use cases and published their findings in the Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Report. The goal of the report is to help network decision makers determine which vendors have the best mix of critical capabilities for their specific usage requirements.

Among their recommendations, Gartner suggests choosing “a single-vendor unified wired/wireless LAN access solution for a consistent wired/WLAN user-centric access policy, with improved provisioning times and reduced administrative costs” and “differentiating vendor offers by evaluating simplicity and consistency of management, network applications, wired form factors and cost. Furthermore, Gartner states their belief that organizations generally benefit from a long-term strategy to use a unified wired/WLAN access layer. This results in:

  •          Improved provisioning, orchestration and management
  •          Reduced operating expenditures (opex)
  •          Improved onboarding
  •          Faster provisioning
  •          Consistent policy enforcement

What is the Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Report?

The Gartner Critical Capabilities research report is intended for use in conjunction with Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure” published on September 2, and uses the same vendor inclusion criteria. Extreme Networks is placed in the Visionary quadrant of that report. Vendors in this critical capabilities research meet the basic functional requirements across defined use cases.

“Vendors that provide their own wired and wireless infrastructure, network applications and services — e.g., Cisco, HP Networking/Aruba, Extreme Networks and Huawei” – Quote from Gartner’s 2015 Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Report

What Exactly are the Critical Capabilities?

Gartner defines critical capabilities as: wired access, WLAN access, guest access/BYOD, management & administration, and additional network applications.

Wired Access

  • Wired switching solution, which includes hardware (port extensions, fixed form factor or modular switches, power over Ethernet, supported interfaces, etc.) and integrated software.
  • Key components include performance, availability, scalability, interoperability, cost and the overall portfolio architecture.

WLAN Access

  • Wireless access solution in traditional, carpeted enterprise environments, which includes hardware (access points, antennas, wall jacks and controllers) and integrated software.
  • Key components include performance, availability, scalability, interoperability, cost, and the overall portfolio architecture.

Guest Access/BYOD

  • Ability to provide a captive portal for guests and define roles of differing permission/functionality to the network.
  • These roles use primitives, such as device, device profile, user, location, time/date, duration, and application access.

Management and Administration

  • Fault, configuration, and performance management/administration capabilities of the vendor’s hardware/software products; other network products (e.g., routers/access points); and multivendor capabilities.
  • Can also include functionality embedded into individual network elements, vendor-provided network management system software/hardware, and integration with existing third-party management tools (e.g., NFM, NPM and/or NCCM) via standardized protocols or APIs.)

Additional Network Applications

  • Includes a broad set of new network applications, including network monitoring, analytics, forensics, advanced application support and location-based services.
  • Network monitoring and analytics applications look at the network, as well as the end-user data.
  • Network forensics tools determine what’s happening across the entire access layer, in addition to security functionality and fixed mobile convergence capabilities.
  • Location services provide data that is based on Wi-Fi or active RFID/beacons, well as an application toolkit for zonal or real-time location services (RTLS).
  • Location-based services can be specific to a vertical industry.


What Use Cases Are Definite In This Report?

Gartner identifies the most common set of use cases in which organizations invest and deploy access solutions.  Clients of Gartner deploy networking in a wide variety of environments and Gartner advises them to select the use case that best fits their business needs.

Enterprise Unified Wired and WLAN Access

  • Physical facility that typically supports more than 500 users, and employs wired/WLAN access in a carpeted office space environment.
  • Users are typically badged employees; however, contractors and guests also require connectivity.
  • Assigned workspaces and use desk phones.
  • Employees are issued corporate-owned devices; however, BYOD is often also supported for mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets).
  • Network buyer is typically highly technically competent and is comfortable making granular changes to wired/WLAN infrastructure components. This use case is typically initiated by a campus refresh or for “greenfield” opportunities.
  • This is the most common use case for newly constructed office space.

Enterprise Wired-Only Connectivity

  • Physical facility or campus environment with more than 500 users that requires only wired access.
  • It is typically observed for brownfield and refresh opportunities.
  • May involve locations for which the enterprise does not want to update or replace an incumbent wireless solution, or has risk-averse environments in which no wireless is deployed.
  • Most users are typically badged employees, but contractors and guests also require connectivity.
  • Buyer is typically highly technically competent, and/or routinely makes granular changes to wired/WLAN infrastructure components.

Enterprise Wireless-Only Connectivity

  • Physical facility with more than 500 users in which more than 90% require WLAN access to be deployed in carpeted office space.
  • Limited wired components may provide connectivity for WLAN infrastructures or as incremental updates to an existing wired infrastructure.
  • This use case is typically observed for brownfield and refresh opportunities.
  • Most users are badged employees; however, contractors and guests also require connectivity.
  • Buyer is typically highly technically competent, and/or routinely makes granular changes to wired/WLAN infrastructure components.

SMB or Mall or Remote Branch Office

  • Physical facility housing 10 to 50 users, but may grow to 499. This requires a combination of wired and WLAN access deployed in a carpeted office space.
  • Typically observed for small enterprises or a small remote office of a larger enterprise.
  • Most users are typically badged employees; however, contractors and guests also require connectivity.
  • Typically little or no on-site technical support in these locations.

Voice Over WLAN

  • Single, small location or a large campus-based enterprise.
  • All users have voice over WLAN clients for voice connectivity.
  • May also use voice over WLAN as a replacement for a wired phone and may include softphones on desktops or laptops, as well as Wi-Fi applications on smartphones.
  • Requirement is for toll-quality calls with a MOS of 3.5 or greater and no perceptible jitter on client calls.
  • Buyer is typically highly technically competent and routinely makes granular changes to wired/WLAN infrastructure components.

IaaS or Managed Service

  • Provides access layer connectivity as infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
  • Typically deployed to Enterprises of fewer than 500 employees or remote branch offices.
  • Can be deployed either in a public cloud or in a data center network operations center, where the vendor or vendor partner/service provider deploys and manages the solution for the end user.

Here is Gartner’s summary of Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks’ ability to provide a broad portfolio of wired and wireless products suitable for a wide range of needs, including those of SMBs, enterprises and service provider customers, places the company in the top third of vendor scores for all use cases. Extreme scored highly in the SMB and/or mall or remote branch office use case, partly due to its continued investment in products that reduce costs in smaller environments. This includes heterogeneous stacking for switching, as well as semiautonomous access points that operate in controller and controllerless modes. Similarly, the vendor benefited in the voice over WLAN use case from its ability to report mean opinion scores (MOSs) for voice applications. This makes Extreme one of the few vendors able to fully optimize the access layer for any enterprise considering an “all wireless office” decision.

You can read Gartner’s 2015 Critical Capabilities for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure Report to see all the vendor ratings displayed side-by-side.

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Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About The Contributor:
Bob NilssonDirector of Vertical Solutions Marketing

Bob Nilsson is the director of vertical solutions marketing at Extreme Networks. In this role, Mr. Nilsson leads the Extreme Networks strategy and programs for vertical markets including Healthcare, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Federal Government, and Hospitality. He has over 30 years of experience in marketing IT systems to Global 1000 companies worldwide. Before joining Extreme Networks Bob was VP Marketing at Clear Methods. Prior to that Bob held senior marketing positions at Digital Equipment and HP. Bob holds an SB degree in EE from MIT and MBA from Columbia Business School.

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