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2019 Network Edge Predictions: Interview with Senior Director of Product Management Mike Leibovitz

Joanne Lennon Senior Manager, Product Marketing Published 20 Dec 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, I took the opportunity to chat with Senior Director of Product Management Mike Leibovitz, the leader of Extreme’s Smart OmniEdge solution, to get his thoughts on life at the edge in 2018 and what to expect in 2019. Here is a glimpse of our Q&A:

Question 1: Any key takeaways from 2018? 

The continued importance and opportunity at the network edge. There is nowhere in the network that faces the same convergence of technologies, onslaught of IoT, security challenges, and the level of complexity than the network edge.

In our Smart OmniEdge launch earlier this year, we described the network edge as being the new battlefront for competitive differentiation. This is so true. The network edge, if done right, can fuel innovation and business growth; done incorrectly, it can hinder success.

The most important question every enterprise should ask is what experience they want to deliver to their customer. Improving the experience is the key to increasing retention, satisfaction and sales. It doesn’t matter whether you are in healthcare, retail, finance or hospitality; define the customer experience you want and ensure that the network can deliver it

Here at Extreme, we have a maniacal focus on delivering a customer-driven experience – a focus that is top of mind through every stage of our product lifecycle – design, development, implementation, support & services. When I look back at 2018, and the industry positioning as a Leader by Gartner analysts in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure and customer recognition in the 2018 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure, I believe much of it can be attributed to the superior experience that our Smart OmniEdge solution delivers.

Question 2: What does 2019 hold? 

The biggest change we will see in 2019 is a renewed focus on the edge infrastructure. For many years the focus has been on software and applications, however with next generation Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, and multi-rate switches hitting the market, hardware will become cool again.

However, don’t compare the hardware hitting the market in 2019, to the hardware of the past. The network refresh cycle that we are embarking on will have an intelligent foundation that will pave the way for new business opportunities, innovation and growth.

We will see many exciting software innovations in 2019. AI/ML capabilities will permeate throughout the enterprise –improving network operations, enhancing security and personalizing engagement. Automation will be a necessity due to the size and complexity of the network edge. And there will be more focus on data intelligence, insights, analytics and contextual information to personalize engagement and deliver on that better experience.

Question 3: What about IoT and security – still top of mind in 2019?

Absolutely. Interestingly Gartner reported earlier this year that 95% of CIOs expect cybersecurity threats to get worse over the next 3 years, yet only 65% of enterprises have a cybersecurity expert on staff.

As we witnessed this year, no business is immune to security breaches. Some of the world’s best-known brands – Uber, Facebook, Marriott – were all affected by breaches in 2018. With the number of IoT devices continuing to proliferate, enterprises need to be vigilant in protecting their network, their users, their customers and their data. In 2019, expect to see new AI/ML augmented security offerings, enhanced security analytics, faster breach recognition & remediation, and greater collaboration between traditional networking and security vendor solutions.

Question 4: Will 5G replace Wi-Fi in 2019?   

<Laughter> No, I think I’ll have job security for a few years yet. Seriously, I don’t see 5G replacing Wi-Fi anytime soon, if ever.  

5G is the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications, and while some flavors of 5G will theoretically deliver more speed/bandwidth than the current Wi-Fi standard, there are many reasons why 5G will not replace Wi-Fi anytime soon:

    • Price per performance: Economically Wi-Fi still rules from a price per performance perspective. There’s simply no way to deliver more bandwidth for a lower cost, particularly if you’re an enterprise buyer.
    • Lack of 5G devices: Contrast this to the proliferation of Wi-Fi enabled devices.
    • Financial considerations: Upgrading cellular networks requires a huge capital cost, not to mention takes a prolonged period of time.
    • Environment considerations: Unlike Wi-Fi, 5G technology needs a clear line of sight – it is not good for indoor environments. 5G performance also degrades during rain.
    • More Wi-Fi bandwidth coming: The Wi-Fi spectrum continues to grow; the FCC recently ruled in favor of additional Wi-Fi frequency (6 GHz band) that will effectively double capacity  

Question 5: Any final words of wisdom on 2019?

Don’t be over sold on technological hype. Evaluate what your business needs, the experience you want to deliver and go from there. Look to network solutions that can give you that consistent, superior experience.

Also, don’t forget about services and support. Besides picking the right technology that can adapt to your business needs, you require a solid support organization behind that technology to be your partner, and help you meet your goals. At Extreme, our maniacal focus on delivering a superior customer-driven experience extends to services and support – and it is the very reason why our 100% insourced support is rated number one in the industry.

To learn more about the challenges and opportunities at the network edge, and Extreme’s Smart OmniEdge solution, check out the resources below:

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Would you like to speak with one of our Smart OmniEdge experts directly to discover how Smart OmniEdge can put your business and its network ahead of the game? We can help. Connect with an Extreme Networks Smart OmniEdge expert now, or call us at 1.888.257.3000.

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