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Extreme CEO: New products in 2012, growth in 2013

John Dix and Jim Duffy | Dec. 22, 2011
After years of stagnant or lackluster growth, Extreme Networks tapped Oscar Rodriguez to bring new life to the switch maker in 2010.

When I got on board here we were spending a lot of money in corporate marketing and not a lot in field marketing. And the way you generate awareness for customers is, you have to advertise globally and you've got to be able to do it in a way that's affordable to you and local venues around the world. The only way to really get that done is to spend your money in field marketing, not on corporate marketing. So awareness generation is a big deal when you're trying to land new customers. And I think it's very fair that in the last 10 years we really had not been focused on key awareness generation points. I think we are now.

What's at the top of your priority list for 2012?

The first set of goals is to get our products out the door. They're due in the early spring and I believe that they will be on time with no issues. The second set of goals is to make sure that all of our salespeople are trained to be experts. One of the things that we're also doing is revamping our sales force, not only retraining the internal folks but adding people from the outside. I'm looking for really great salespeople that want to have a lot of upside. We can bring people on board that have a Rolodex and we can train them to be the black belts in data centers. We're shaping ourselves to be that kind of vendor.

A lot of the other big players are starting to integrate their networking in the computing side of the house. How do you respond to that market dynamic?

It's a dynamic that's bound to happen because if you're a large comprehensive vendor, you want to be able to offer service capability. In the case of any of these large vendors, they're really selling a service. You'd have to be able to bring together multiple pieces, so you're not just selling consulting, you're selling also product and the know-how of the overall system.

That does not mean, however, that there isn't a very large part of the marketplace who will say, "I want to be able to choose those pieces for myself, I want to choose best of breed." Unless you've got a very esoteric technology, they would rather select the best of breed for themselves because that way they control their cost of goods, they control their facilities usage, they control their people and they have enough technical depth to be able to run it themselves.

There are a lot of corroborating activities going on in the marketplace that say if you choose from a big brand, you're going to suffer in one or two areas. Performance of the overall system may be very good, but the individual components may be mediocre. Unless the big brands can overcome the performance perception that they have, and the very real overall economic issues of having sub-optimized systems as opposed to optimized systems, then I think there's always going to be room in the marketplace for those customers that choose best of breed.


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