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Extreme Switches Up

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LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
5/31/2004

Extreme Networks Inc.'s (Nasdaq: EXTR) recent move to introduce a Linux-based operating system for its networking products will affect its 802.11 switch offerings, according to Vipin Jain, VP and general manager of the firm’s LAN access business.

Over a year since Extreme first introduced WiFi switch products, the firm is now talking up Linux and voice initiatives in the next phase of its push to integrate its wired and wireless offerings, which the firm calls its "Unified Access" strategy.

Jain says its ExtremeWare XOS Linux operating system will give third-party develpers an open platform to create new wireless LAN applications on. Jain cites location-based services (asset tracking, RFID, and more) as one of the main types of program that others could develop on top of the operating system.

Jain says that it is crucial for wireless LAN vendors to provide developers with an open platform to work on to expand the market as a whole. "No one company can do it all," says Jain.

WiFi switch rival Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE:SBL) took a similar line with the recent introduction of its Mobility Services Suite (MMS) software, allowing developers more access to the program code so that they can link it to other applications (see Symbol Crashes In).

Extreme's reseller agreement with Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV) is key to the firm's voice-over-WLAN strategy, according to Jain. Initially, Avaya and Extreme will offer customers the other firm's networking gear but the pair are also working on developing products that integrate IP telephony capabilities into routers and switches.

The WLAN switch market has undergone a features "arms race" since Extreme introduced its first products. Major players like Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) and a slew of startups have come on the scene, all touting multiple switch software and hardware updates at regular intervals.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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