Extreme Networks has become a leader in the cloud networking market across the globe. It began in 1996 and has since made several significant acquisitions. Markus Nispel, CTO of EMEA at Extreme Networks, took time out to speak to Intelligent CXO about the company and its customer-centric approach.
Tell us a bit more about your business and how it started.
Back in 1996, Extreme Networks was founded in California to address the growing market for network hardware. Over the years, Extreme has made several significant acquisitions, including Enterasys Networks in 2013, Zebra Technologies’ wireless LAN business in 2016, both Brocade´s SRA and Avaya´s networking business in 2017 and Ipanema in 2021. Extreme made a big bet on the cloud when it acquired Aerohive Networks in 2019, and ever since, the company has been on a journey of explosive growth, quickly becoming a leader in the cloud networking market across the globe.
How has the business grown since it started and how did you ensure growth?
Extreme’s evolution has been marked by strategic initiatives, several acquisitions and an unyielding commitment to our customers and partners. We’ve consistently placed customers at the centre of everything we do and have focused on simplifying the complexities of the network and ensuring secure connectivity. This enables our customers to leverage the network as a strategic asset that can help them drive toward better organisational outcomes.
One of the pivotal factors in our growth has been our customer-centric approach and our ability to recognise inflection points early in their development. For example, during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we recognised the need for enterprises to change the way they provide experiences to their employees, partners and customers. Extreme introduced the concept of the Infinite Enterprise, which is our vision for a future where organisations are infinitely distributed, managed at scale and built around delivering consistent customer experiences. This gave Extreme an opportunity to step up and address issues for companies, but also triggered significant enhancements to our portfolio, further fuelling our growth. Strategic partnerships with channel partners, system integrators and managed service providers have also played a significant role in our expansion. These partnerships not only opened doors to new markets and customers but also reinforced our presence in the industry.
Further, our focus on simplicity is evident not only in our products but our licensing: unlike competitors with complex pricing structures, we offer a single, portable licensing for all network devices, making licensing straightforward and manageable. Organisations value the simplicity and transparency of our solutions, helping us drive continuous growth.
What’s the business’ approach to management?
We encourage our employees to take not only corporate values to heart but to truly embrace our mission of driving better outcomes, which inspires innovation at every level of our organisation. Once identified and described, the customer’s vision and desired outcomes are achieved by an aligned organisational design and a strategy paired with relentless execution towards those outcomes. Those principles, managed by OKRs, allow us to move faster and more efficiently than ever and enable true innovation. Employees work cross-functionally, and we rely on open communication across our organisation, top to bottom. The customer journey extends beyond organisational boundaries for example, companies that have identified this reality can innovate more effectively than others.
What is your company’s vision and goal?
Ultimately, our goal is to make it easy for everyone to leverage their network as a strategic asset, tapping into network intelligence and data to drive better outcomes across their organisation. Our simple and effective approach revolves around our One Network, One Cloud and One Extreme portfolio strategy. This ensures unmatched simplicity, flexibility and efficiency, setting us apart from others in the industry.
What kind of clients and market do you serve?
Extreme’s versatile solutions can be used by a wide range of organisations of all sizes across various industries, including government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and logistics as well as professional and collegiate sports venues and more. Among Extreme’s clients are many of the world’s leading organisations, such as Fortune 500 companies, global financial institutions and top-ranked universities. Some of our notable clients include Kroger, a major US grocery chain; Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group (HMG), one of the largest healthcare providers in Saudi Arabia; West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust in the UK; Stanford University’s Department of Athletics and professional sports leagues including the NFL, MLB, NHL and Manchester United.
What has your career looked like so far?
I had the opportunity to join Extreme through an acquisition and since then, I’ve had the chance to work in very different roles including solutions engineering, architecture, R&D and strategy. What I enjoy the most about my current role as CTO, EMEA at Extreme is the constant variety – there is something new every day, and I value the opportunity for continuous learning and the chance to make a real impact for Extreme.
How do you equip your staff with skills and knowledge?
We are committed to fostering the continuous development of our employees. We believe in the value of on-going learning and growth, and we actively encourage our employees to take the time for training that can help them develop their personal and professional skills. To support this, we provide a variety of training options to make sure our team has plenty of chances to learn and improve, including both technical training and professional development.
One such exceptional resource is Extreme Academy, which serves as a standout learning platform and is available on demand at no cost not only to employees but to anyone seeking to increase their knowledge of networking and build skills, even if they have no prior experience. This platform offers an extensive array of courses focused on our products and solutions and allows participants to earn industry certifications and validate their expertise. In addition to the structured courses, our employees have access to instructor-led training sessions covering various topics, including network design, implementation and troubleshooting. We recognise the value of flexibility, so we provide on-demand training courses, allowing our team members to learn at their own pace.
How do you work with other executives within the C-suite to make sure your voice is heard?
We have a very lean and effective team structure that is focused on collaboration and communication. This includes collaboration between departments and open conversation all the way up to the executive level. This makes it easy to voice our opinions and to also collectively execute our defined strategies. The best way forward is to work together to align on a collective vision and drive toward it.
How do you ensure different teams in your organisation work together?
Effective communication is key. Clearly defining our vision and desired outcomes can bring teams together under common goals that they can only achieve together. When combined with the right organisational design, this approach has led to our greatest successes over the years.Click below to share this article