Interview: Extreme Networks' Mark Canepa

The CEO of Extreme Networks talks about making life easy for IT with the company's new Universal Port software and about building a development community.

April 11, 2007

3 Min Read
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Mark Canepa

Extreme has announced Universal Port software, which provides a framework to configure switches in response to network conditions. What's the IT benefit?

It's all about making life easy for IT. The software lets the switch and network platform do a lot of the work that would otherwise be done manually. You lower costs because you need fewer system admins, there's less room for pilot error, and new capabilities can be augmented automatically.

You put the code for your new Handset Provisioning Module, which automates provisioning IP phones, in the public domain. How's the response?

We just did this last month, so it takes time to get the uptake. The advantage is that you generate a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. And our hope is people will begin to look at other peripherals. If you can do this with a handset, why not a laptop, a video camera, or servers and storage? Anything that plugs into the network can be managed in a more sophisticated way. It will become part of the development of an ecosystem.Will you do the same for ExtremeXOS, your operating system?

Well, you never know. Right now there aren't any plans to do that, but we'll see what's in the best interest of our company and our customers. Our intent is to have a developer community in place, and attract people who want to attach middleware between our platforms and whatever apps may be out there. If we do this right, it will be viral. And then we'll see what the next steps are.

As networks move to VoIP and unified communications, partnerships among software and hardware vendors are crucial. How does your dance card look?

We've created a lot of partnerships specifically focused on VoIP. We have Avaya, Siemens, ShoreTel and a number of others. In many cases we collaborate all the way down to the engineering level. We focus on making sure the right software runs on our platforms. For example, Avaya's CNA application has modules that operate right inside our network platforms, which provides an intimate linkage between our switches and the telephony app.

International sales account for almost 64 percent of your total revenue. What steps are you taking to boost domestic revenue?

Starting a year or so ago, we bought in a new VP of sales for the United States. Just this week we signed a new VP for worldwide sales.

The U.S. market tends to be tough, but customers consistently tell me to explain how to solve their business problems and not just sell them boxes. The customers clearly recognize that we have superior technology. If you put our box side by side with Cisco's, the technology shows up quickly. Cisco has a lot of variables it can play. It can shift costs; it can, in any one deal, discount it to practically nothing.I'm more focused on arming our sales force with the right collateral at the right level to explain things correctly to customers. you have to get the message out there, keep salespeople focused on what keeps customers up at night.

What's the status of Extreme's internal investigation into the backdating of stock options?

We are well along in the process with our special board-appointed committee, and we feel confident this issue will be resolved. We don't expect our process to be materially different from those of other companies in Silicon Valley, which is well in excess of a couple of hundred, that are going through this.

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