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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.

Very positive, very positive responses. We're doing a lot of outreach and awareness, not only to existing customers but new perspective ones. I can tell you this - the feedback from the customer advisory council is we've never seen Extreme so focused, we really like it, and we believe in what you guys are doing. But what's interesting is we're now getting customers at the CIO level inviting us to come in and present to them, and really be a part of their bidding process, that would never have given us the time of day before because they would just have considered us to be a commodity product.

In this change, how many customers in these sectors that you're turning away from are there? How many existing customers are left in those buckets that you'll no longer be focusing on?

Not a lot. That's the good news, right? I mean the good news is what we were trying to do before as a company was sort of chase customers that we were hopeful to get. The nightmare scenario for any product company is you want to land hundreds of customers in order to justify your ROI and if you land three or four, and then you're kind of stuck servicing those three or four with the R&D that it takes to service those three or four, you're not getting the revenue of the hundreds.

So the good news is it was an easy decision. I had one product for example in the Carrier Metro Ethernet space that had more R&D spend than it had revenue in the quarter. So you don't have to be a genius to do this, you just have to sit down and say are we going to take the steps that are necessary to get it done.

How do you plan to build on what you accomplished in 2011?

In the process of making all these changes as a company, we actually then set our criteria for the products we're going to build, and we've got brand new products that are coming that will be available in the early spring. And as these products come out, they're very focused on very specific areas. So we're getting these products out the door, but 2013 is really where we're expecting to see growth.

How do you plan to sell beyond just your installed base and cultivate a new set of customers?

Being able to acquire new customers has everything to do with awareness. Your current customers are already aware of you, so it's easy to go back to your current customers without having to do a lot of marketing. When you're trying to get your message to new customers, there's a couple of things that have happened over the last 10 years that have been impediments. Cisco had such a strong position in the marketplace that there were many customers that said, "I don't necessarily want to buy from anybody from Cisco, I feel safe, I think it's OK, they do a great job." The other one that's been a greater impediment for Extreme is the fact that Extreme really didn't invest a lot in the awareness that is necessary.

 

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