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Nile, Extreme attack Cisco's enterprise networking biz

Extreme Networks and startups like Nile join Juniper Networks and HPE in challenging the enterprise networking market's 800-pound gorilla.

Mike Dano

September 14, 2022

3 Min Read
Nile, Extreme attack Cisco's enterprise networking biz

Cisco remains the 800-pound gorilla in the enterprise networking market, according to the financial analysts at WestPark Capital. But the company is facing a range of attacks from growing upstarts like Extreme Networks as well as startups like Nile.

Moreover, the attacks are becoming personal. As reported by CNBC, Nile is backed by Cisco's former CEO John Chambers. Four-year-old Nile emerged from stealth mode this week and has so far raised a whopping $125 million in funding.

"We're building something that our prior company was not building," Chambers told CNBC. "It's a whole new area. It isn't like we did something, and we're trying to make it better."

Figure 1: (Source: Cisco) (Source: Cisco)

According to the publication, startup Nile plans to charge its enterprise customers based on the number of people who use its networking infrastructure each month. That's a much different approach than giant Cisco takes to the market, considering it primarily works to sell networking boxes to its customers. But that as-a-service approach to networking seems to be gaining traction considering Amazon recently outlined its own private 5G networking offering for enterprises that charges customers based on their per-hour usage of the network.

Of course, Nile isn't the only company targeting Cisco's enterprise networking business. Juniper Networks, HPE, Celona and Extreme Networks are among the others – though it's Extreme that has earned the interest of WestPark Capital.

"Extreme Networks has the potential to be both a rising star and a disruptor in enterprise networking, bringing a streamlined architectural vision of wireless enterprise connectivity and an agile culture to a number of key verticals," the financial analysts wrote in a recent report on the company. They noted that the analysts at Gartner now rank Extreme Networks above Cisco in their "Magic Quadrant" grading system.

"More scrappy and high-energy, Extreme is now battling Cisco in a number of vertical markets – and winning more and more RFPs [request for proposals]. Its sweet spot, marketwise, is education, sports arenas, government, and manufacturing," according to the WestPark Capital analysts. Speaking of sports, Extreme recently announced a new deal with Minor League Baseball in the US for, among other products, Wi-Fi 6 networks in the league's stadiums.

"The reason it [Extreme] is winning more deals, we believe, is the classic problem of the 800-lb gorilla (in this case Cisco): Its many acquisitions and technology add-ons do not interface seamlessly with its legacy systems, creating unnecessary complexity and cost. Extreme Networks, meanwhile, has focused primarily on architectural unity and migrating resources to the cloud," according to the WestPark Capital analysts.

Extreme is now also expanding into another Cisco target area: 5G. Extreme recently said it exceeded its goal to generate $20 million in 5G sales during its fiscal year 2022. The company expects its 5G business to reach up to $100 million in annual 5G sales.

"We're going to see a significant ramp as major telcos start deploying this cloud-native infrastructure solution where we're the sole source vendor for networking around the major service provider 5G networks around the globe," Extreme Networks CEO Ed Meyercord said during the company's most recent quarterly conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. He added that Verizon is now certifying the company's products so that Verizon sellers in the enterprise space can begin offering Extreme Networks as an option.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

About the Author(s)

Mike Dano

Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading

Mike Dano is Light Reading's Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies. Mike can be reached at [email protected], @mikeddano or on LinkedIn.

Based in Denver, Mike has covered the wireless industry as a journalist for almost two decades, first at RCR Wireless News and then at FierceWireless and recalls once writing a story about the transition from black and white to color screens on cell phones.

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