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A Kiwi in Australia: An Interview with Michael Lidgett

Natalia Vianden Director, Global Channel Programs Published 10 Mar 2022

Meet Michael Lidgett, Solutions Architect at Progility Technologies and our Extreme Hero of the quarter. 

Any New Year’s resolutions or personal goals for 2022?

I’m hoping to buy my first home this year and maybe work a little less.

Last year you were instrumental in closing a $200,000+ deal that included Extreme solutions. What can you tell us about it?

It’s a project for a global infrastructure developer. We’re responsible for supplying the integrated converged network. Historically, all the building managements, vertical transportation (lift controls), and emergency lighting were deployed on physically separate networks, but the ICN was a perfect opportunity to use Extreme Fabric Connect and Layer 3 VPNs to keep everything logically separated, without the expense of separate switches or complexity of using fabric technologies from other vendors.

Our partner program has seen some real improvements thanks to feedback from you, our partners. What do you value in your relationship with a vendor? What excites you the most about working with Extreme?

What I value the most in my relationships with vendors is the human factor; the opportunity to work with other top people in the industry and achieve big goals together. With that in mind, I can easily say that Extreme Networks is one of the best when it comes to supporting their partners.

Aside from my 18 years of experience solving customer problems, I wouldn’t be able to solve them all without Extreme’s willingness to train their partners.

Michael Lidget and family

How does Extreme help you identify technical sales opportunities? Which solutions or technologies appeal to your clients the most?

We’ve had a lot of success lately with Extreme Fabric Connect and Fabric Extend, thanks to the amazing capabilities of ExtremeAnalytics and ExtremeCloud IQ – Site Engine. We managed to identify issues in existing customer architectures and have used Extreme’s various technologies to show customers how to overcome certain problems.

For example, we replaced complicated, multiprotocol (VxLAN, EVPN, MP-BGP, OSPF, Spanning Tree) environments with Extreme Fabric Connect between data centers and campuses. ExtremeAnalytics provides Layer 7 visibility inside the network and proactive alarming on critical applications. The ExtremeCloud IQ platform allows easy scaling to hundreds of APs for troubleshooting issues on an office building floor, a classroom, or any environment. Distributed virtual routing enables better use of dual data center WAN links. Fabric Extend brings integrated application hosting and the fabric IPsec gateway backup paths for single dark fiber paths between data center to disaster recover environments.

Once we deploy Extreme Fabric Connect in the data center or core layer, it’s only a matter of time before the customers go full fabric to the edge and cloud-managed wireless with ExtremeCloud IQ.

Progility boasts 30 years of experience in deploying emerging communication technologies, having delivered many first-of-their-kinds in Australia. Which technology or solution area are you most proud or excited about?

Being a critical communications company, we have customers from the mining industry that are running 24×7 operational technology (OT) networks for process control, high voltage power, and other mission critical operations. Extreme Fabric Connect has been a key backbone of these networks, helping to extend connectivity throughout mine sites with low risk due to the low touch nature of the fabric where you only need to make the change at the edge. Virtual Link Aggregation Control Protocol has also been critical for sub-second reconvergence of licensed microwave links as it’s able to detect an upstream outage even when the port remains up.

We have also even been using the solution to overcome some limitations in our specialized, industrial vendor protocols to come up with better and more resilient designs than what the industrial vendors use. For example, one of our vendors second ring coupling protocols that’s used to connect 10ms ring networks to the backbone uses tagged VLAN 1 to heartbeat; This would normally mean that when multiple rings are coupled to the backbone, they all get connected to each other on VLAN 1, making a large broadcast/failure domain. With Extreme Fabric Connect, we can join the two-coupling master and slave using VLAN 1 but a different I-SID for each ring, so we don’t join them all together which makes for a much better solution.

As a solutions architect, how do you feel about the expanding ExtremeCloud portfolio, including cloud-managed SD-WAN, application intelligence, and the SASE ecosystem?

We look forward to seeing how Extreme’s newest Ipanema SD-WAN acquisition is integrated into the existing portfolios and systems. There has already been some interest from our customers, and we do have access to standalone SASE systems, but a fully integrated system definitely makes for a better story.

You’re originally from New Zealand. How much has your life changed since you moved to Australia?

To be honest, moving from New Zealand to Australia 10 years ago just felt like changing cities. Other than the fact that it’s 10 degrees warmer here and I never need more than a T-shirt, it was a very smooth transition. You could say that the most important change was doubling the number of our kids, going from two to four.

What’s your preferred way to unwind and celebrate a win?

Definitely with some quiet family time. With two teens and two young children, you can imagine I’ll take my moments of peace whenever and wherever I can get them.

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