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Extreme Networks Introduces Automated Network Management Assistant

Unveiled during the vendor’s annual user conference today, ExtremeCloud IQ CoPilot draws on artificial intelligence to continuously measure network behavior against baseline norms and automatically issue alerts when it spots potential problems. By Rich Freeman

Extreme Networks has added an automated monitoring and analysis tool to ExtremeCloud IQ, its cloud-based network management solution.

Currently in public beta and expected to reach general availability late this year, ExtremeCloud IQ CoPilot debuted during Extreme’s annual user conference, which took place online today. The system seeks to ease administrative burdens, reduce operational costs, and enhance uptime by continuously measuring network behavior against baseline norms and automatically issuing alerts when it spots potential problems.

“Commercial airlines all run with co-pilots. If you’re running an enterprise network, we’d expect you to run with a co-pilot as well,” says Nora Guzman, Extreme’s vice president of product marketing.

CoPilot uses both machine learning technology and statistical analysis to track Wi-Fi efficiency, Wi-Fi capacity, Power over Ethernet stability, adverse traffic patterns, uplink efficiency, and dynamic frequency selection recurrence. When anomalous trends develop, an “explainable AI” engine diagnoses the issue and presents information about possible causes, potential repercussions, and recommended solutions to technicians in easily understood terms. Users who wish to can send a support ticket to the Extreme Networks Global Technical Assistance Center from directly within the CoPilot interface.

The solution is designed to minimize false positive alarms, according to CTO Nabil Bukhari. “Based on the technology we’ve put in, we guarantee that you will get 99% error-free alerts,” he said during a keynote this morning.

CoPilot is also simple enough for use by people without technical skills at locations lacking onsite IT support, according to Joe Vitalone, Extreme’s chief revenue officer. “A lot of our customers, even our partners, don’t have huge IT staffs,” he said in a conversation with ChannelPro. “If you’ve got 12 access points and maybe a switch or a router but you happen to be the facilities manager or the receptionist, you can still perform these duties.”

The system saves time for experienced users, including channel pros, as well, Vitalone adds. “They’re not searching manually for issues,” he notes. “CoPilot is always watching while you may not be looking.”

By providing actionable, intelligence-driven insights, Vitalone continues, CoPilot helps transform the network from a cost center to a potential source of business value.

“It used to be thought of as plumbing, just moving packets from point A to point B,” he says. “It’s very much now providing customers with analytics so that they can make informed decisions about their business and make the necessary changes they need to make to be competitive in a post-pandemic environment.”

At present, there are three ExtremeCloud IQ subscription tiers: ExtremeCloud IQ Connect, ExtremeCloud IQ Navigator, and ExtremeCloud IQ Pilot. Starting next month and for the duration of the system’s beta testing, CoPilot will be available at no extra charge to Pilot-level subscribers. It will then become a fourth, highest-end subscription option when its first production release reaches market. Extreme has yet to decide what it will charge for the system at that time. “We’re looking at it,” Vitalone says.

CoPilot is the latest component in Extreme’s “infinite enterprise” vision, which aims to deliver scalable, secure, reliable, and manageable connectivity to offices, data centers, and the network edge through solutions that are cloud-first, flexible, and easy to use. Already in place when the coronavirus pandemic arrived last spring, Vitalone notes, that vision became even more relevant once distancing guidelines and lockdowns went into effect. 

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