An Interview with Technical Team Leader Sulev Mäesaar


Meet Sulev Mäesaar of Estonia’s OIXIO, Extreme’s Hero of the Quarter.

Sulev, you’ve been in the networking game for almost 30 years. Can you recall your first memories in the industry?

I landed my first job in 1994 when I was still a university student.  The G-Tech Corporation hired me as a WAN Network Administrator. For the first time I saw a proper operational data center and network operations center, and was introduced to various WAN network technologies and server solutions.

My primary responsibility was to guarantee network connectivity between data center and end user terminals, which involved thousands of devices covering all of Estonia. They were connected via all kinds of communication methods, from leased lines to radio and modem connections. Since all other technology at that time was a relic of the Soviet era, comparing it to a brand new, mostly U.S. -based infrastructure and server hardware felt amazing. They were decades apart.

Tell us about your experience with Extreme.

I have learned that Extreme switches are very reliable, even in harsh environments.  As one of my colleagues said, Extreme switches only need to be replaced every decade or so, not much else goes wrong with them.

And then there’s Extreme software that receives continuous updates and keeps even older hardware up to speed with modern upgrades and functionality. Also, the combination of machine learning and AI in the ExtremeCloud IQ platform helps to find problems that are initially not visible and would otherwise not be addressed in time.

But I think the biggest game changer at Extreme in recent times was the introduction of Extreme Fabric Connect. As an engineer, the network self-provisioning saves a lot of working hours. I don’t need to configure the entire network because with Fabric Connect, the services are provisioned dynamically or automatically provisioned whenever a new device connects to the network, or I need to provision service only on the edge port. Configuring the fabric core network is also simple and fast. It’s only one protocol and the network design is very flexible.

Do you remember how you first got involved with the purple boxes?

It was 2007 when I first used Extreme Networks products in a big project. The customer was Eesti Raudtee ― Estonian Railways ― and I was tasked with creating a solution to connect the rail hubs. Since I was the engineer, salesman, and architect all in one person, I chose to go with the Extreme Ethernet Automatic Protection Switching ― EAPS ― ring as a basis for this design.

Could you walk us briefly through the challenges of the customer and how you managed to solve them?

The most challenging part in the Estonian Railways project was finding the best products and solutions that would perfectly suit the needs of the customer. The project was to create a country-wide network with a high level of availability and security. Estonian Railways’ core and distribution network consists of multiple geographically dispersed locations, so the transport network has a full mesh architecture. Data centers are distributed, core clusters are stretched geographically, and all network endpoints have multiple different data transfer paths available.

Pre-sales, network design or implementation: which part of the project do you enjoy the most?

I think what I like the most is the pre-sales meetings with the customer, learning what they need, how it’s going to be used, and figuring out the optimal solution. Creating a great network architecture based on customer input is always one of the challenges that I look forward to leaning into.

OIXIO is the largest provider of IT infrastructure in Estonia. Projects like Estonian Railways or the Port of Tallinn prove your strong experience in the logistics and transportation industry. What do you think are the biggest challenges customers from this sector are facing?

The logistics and transportation sector has been plagued by multiple crises for the past three years, including supply chain disruptions, COVID-related restrictions, the war in Ukraine, and the related fuel crisis, trade sanctions, inflation, the list goes on. The problems are not unique to this sector alone, but they sure have suffered a lot. And the lack of skilled workers has also put pressure on increasing efficiency through digitalization.

As for the technology, the challenges lie in scaling and, at the same time, automation of IT – doing more with less people. Cybersecurity is also a huge challenge because transportation and logistics companies work with more third-party partners than others. The increase in remote work adds another layer of challenges. For example, how do you provide flexible work conditions securely while also maintaining a good user experience? The whole internet is now basically an enterprise LAN and data needs to be quickly usable and secure anywhere, anytime.

How is OIXIO positioned to meet those challenges?

OIXIO's strength and competitive edge are in our ability to deliver value across the entire value chain and meet all the needs of our customers, from auditing and designing to implementing solutions and services across the whole IT infrastructure: endpoint, server, storage, networking, and security. We're not only able to design, implement, and manage the whole infrastructure at a high level – we do it with the best technology partners in the world like Extreme Networks.

What are your favorite ways to unwind after a particularly challenging project?

Since I live in the beautiful countryside of southern Estonia, my perfect way to unwind is to go outside with my children. We like hiking, riding on bicycles or ATV quads, occasionally camping out in tents.

And how do you celebrate a big win like the Estonian Railways?

To mark the end of a successful project, we like to invite our customers and partners for a dinner to socialize, relax and have fun.

If you are an Extreme partner and would like to become an Extreme Hero, visit our Extreme Portal.

Posted In
About the Author
Natalia Vianden Headshot
Natalia Vianden
Director, Global Channel Programs

Natalia Vianden has over 17 years’ experience in Channel Account management, developing strategic channel partners, business development, experience in channel marketing and in designing and launching Channel Partner Programs for Extreme Networks.

Full Bio