Interview: Bob Gault, Extreme Networks
Which technologies or innovations do you think will be game changers or reach maturity in 2019?
IoT is maturing and will become a lot more prevalent, fundamentally changing the way organisations operate. For example, in supermarkets, we are starting to see paper price tags being replaced with digital LCD screens, updated instantly via Wi-Fi. That’s also a challenge, when you have thousands of stock items that now need to be managed and connected on the wireless network. To cope, manufacturers are looking to AI and machine learning to automate network configuration and management — this will ultimately become an operational necessity.
How are AI, IoT and cyber threats changing your industry sector, and what is your business doing to move with the changes?
We are seeing a widening of the attack surface with the rise of IoT and AI. It is our job to think through these scenarios and devise solutions. Extreme Networks is increasing the use of analytics and machine learning in its products to predict and prevent network failures and security breaches from occurring. We’ve even developed solutions like Defender for IoT, which delivers security for end points which have limited or even no embedded security capabilities, such as ageing wired devices.
Which ICT innovations or disruptions are your customers telling you they are most worried or enthusiastic about in the year ahead?
Our customers are excited by the promise of 802.11ax, also known as Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi access points equipped with this technology will help organisations support more devices and more users, each with greater performance. Customers are also looking to better harness the potential of AI and machine learning, and in leveraging automation, visibility and analytics across IT domains to reduce manual provisioning and simplify network operations.
Security and risk management remain a concern. GDPR in Europe, mandatory data breach regulations here in Australia, and new Australian government initiatives like GovPass, open banking and the Consumer Data Right, are driving demand for greater visibility and control over all components of enterprise infrastructure.
What will be the biggest growth opportunities for your company and your customers in 2019, and why?
Extreme Networks solutions are grouped into three main buckets: Smart OmniEdge, Automated Campus and Agile Data Center. Our Smart OmniEdge solutions are designed for the enterprise edge. We expect this to be a major growth area in 2019 due to increasing use of IoT and sensors and subsequent demand for high-quality, low-latency service. Growth for our Automated Campus technology will come from the need to connect more devices, demand for cybersecurity and general digital transformation efforts.
In the data centre, operations teams are feeling pressure to keep pace with business demands for services at cloud speed, but monolithic technology stacks, limited visibility and manual processes are holding them back. Our Agile Data Center solutions will enable organisations to automate at their own pace with cross-domain IT automation, management, visibility and analytics tools that work in any vendor environment.
How important is education and training for ICT professionals during times of rapid digital transformation, and what initiatives need improving on this front?
Education and training have never been more important. Training needs to be delivered in fresh new ways to keep employees interested. At Extreme, we offer an online Dojo training program consisting of competency-based curricula delivered in bite-sized video modules. Coursework covers a variety of topics, and employees receive a belt for each level completed. Feedback has been phenomenal.
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