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Enterasys Reaches Out To Extreme's WLAN Customers

Networking vendor Enterasys has announced an upgrade program for wireless customers of Extreme Networks'  WLAN products. Free until February 2010, the program offers software upgrades of certain models of Extreme's wireless access points and controllers, as well as honoring up to one year of existing Extreme Networks wireless maintenance and support agreements. The software upgrade essentially transforms existing Extreme Summit controllers and Altitude access points into the HiPath equivalent products from Enterasys. 
Competitive trade-in programs are nothing new among networking vendors, but these programs usually entail physically replacing one set of products for discounted price on another. Enterasys's offer is a bit unique in that Extreme WLAN customers will become Enterasys customers while retaining all of their existing hardware. This is possible because of Extreme's prior OEM relationship with Siemens, which delivered HiPath WLAN gear under the Extreme Network's brand. This relationship was strained with the merger of Siemens and Enterasys in October 2008, effectively putting Extreme Networks in the position of selling WLAN for one of its switching competitors.
In recent weeks, there has actually been a flurry of WLAN OEM changes among the switching vendors. The Enterprise Mobility group at Motorola has not only become the OEM WLAN for Extreme Networks, but has also displaced Meru Networks to become Brocade's wireless partner.  While these wins are certainly good for Motorola, these shifts inevitably are a concern for customers who have invested in the prior technology. 
The lesson for enterprise customers is to do their homework when purchasing wireless networking products from their wired networking vendor. The switching market is littered with OEM relationships for WLAN products, many of which are tenuous at best. Combined with the stream of current acquisition activity in the WLAN market, partners can quickly become competitors, and many times customers are left having only token support for older products and endless sales pitches to move to the new product. While there are advantages for single source networking vendors for wired and wireless products, namely a single support team to deal with, customers need to know exactly where their products are coming from and understand the nature of any OEM relationships that may be in play.