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An Interview with Paul Rylett: It’s All About Honesty

Natalia Vianden Director, Global Channel Programs Published 24 Nov 2021

Meet Paul Rylett, Technical Lead at NETprotocol (UK) and our Extreme Hero of the quarter

Hello Paul! I heard that your company had a terrific summer.

It was one record-breaking summer for NETprotocol. More than 18 middle school, high school, and college networks were refreshed using our solutions. We installed over 1,000 access points and 200 switches. Our five-man team managed to squeeze 68 days of consulting and onsite work into just 35 days of the schools’ summer break in the UK. So yeah, we had our hands full.

Where were some of your other projects over the summer? 

We did deployments at a number of large education establishments around northeast England, Yorkshire particularly. In York we were at St. Peter’s School, which is the third oldest school in the world. With its extensive grounds on the banks of the River Ouse, it’s one huge campus.

What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?

I could name a few projects I’m very proud of, like the work we’ve done with a Premiership football club over the years or the aforementioned St. Peter’s.

But the thing I really like to talk about is that for the last four years we’ve been focusing on the education sector. With students all using an iPad or Chromebook as primary educational tools, I’m proud of the fact that we are building the platforms to make a difference in their lives.

Of course, we’re in this to make money too, but making sure that the network on Extreme solutions delivers everything schools need while helping them to save money is very satisfying. The money they save can be spent on more books or learning systems. That’s a win-win for me.

Some time ago you wrote an article about when to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6. Given your recent projects, would you agree that there’s no time like the present?

Yes, it’s absolutely the time to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 now and Extreme Networks is a really, really, strong way to do it. In two years, I think the majority of our customers will be changing over to Wi-Fi 6E and saving money.

All Wi-Fi advances are driven by customers. This rule applies to every generation of Wi-Fi.  That’s the way it was in 1999 and that’s how it is now. It is also a very fast-evolving technology, which is why an Extreme Network Subscription works so well for our clients.

To give you one example among many, we deployed a 802.11ac solution using Extreme and two years later, when we got to that tipping point where most of the clients start to be Wi-Fi 6, we upgraded it to 802.11ax. The client’s bills went down immediately because the access points were cheaper.

And I can already tell that Wi-Fi 6E―with its non-overlapping channels and additional bandwidth―is going to be a real game changer for wireless.

With the growing complexity of managing networks, schools like Harrogate Grammar School are looking more and more into cloud-managed networking. How would you describe your experience with ExtremeCloud IQ so far?

Can I just say I love it and leave it there?  One day I had at least three different clients telling me their Wi-Fi wasn’t working. No further details. And it’s up to you, half a world away, to figure out what that means. With ExtremeCloud IQ, you can instantly see all the historical data and tell in a heartbeat what the actual problem is.

Software-defined radios are a real secret weapon, and we deliver Private Pre-Shared Keys (PPSK) to schools all the time. They get all that power but none of the complexity.But what I love most is that the fourth generation of cloud basically allows us to deliver technology without any disruption to the client.

What is your recipe for great customer service?

It’s all about turning up and being honest. All my designs start with a conversation with the customer. What is it that you’re trying to achieve? Is it doable?

If you can’t deliver what the client wants within the budget, tell them that on day one. Don’t put a solution in that won’t work or cuts  corners. You need to set the expectations and try and get it right from the beginning.

What do you value the most in your partnership with Extreme?

First, the people. Working in synergy and perfect honesty with each other is a joy. Being up front with each other because nobody expects anyone to be right every time. I think it’s all about that.

Secondly, we value the Extreme technology. NETprotocol is a tech-driven business, not a sales business. We can’t stand in front of a client and demonstrate technology that we have no confidence in. With Extreme, we can do live demos from the sites of our satisfied clients.

James Reynolds, your Partner Account Manager at Extreme, said he would clone you if he could. Let’s assume he could. What would you have the other Paul do?

Probably go to Iceland on a walking holiday. No phone reception, just a good supply of audiobooks. There’s got to be a point when you can simply turn yourself off, right?

We have a little tradition of asking our Heroes and Champions from the UK which famous British music act they would compare Extreme to. We already got Queen, Ed Sheeran, Dido… What’s your choice?

Are you honestly telling me nobody said Deep Purple?

If you are an Extreme partner and would like to become an Extreme Hero, click here to learn more.

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