Extreme launches Widget Central for building networking apps

North Dakota has custom app to track IP phone moves

Extreme Networks announced free online access yesterday to a new set of development tools called Widget Central as well as a new SDK (Software Development Kit) for ExtremeXOS, the operating system for Extreme's LAN switches.

The widgets help customers with deployment, monitoring, operations and optimization of networks and can be modified for an organization's specific needs, Extreme officials said.

The company also announced new hardware, including new Summit X350 Series Gigabit switches with 24 and 48 port models, starting at US$1,795. A new Summit WM20 Wireless LAN controller was announced at US$5,895, as well as new Access Points for 802.11n fast wireless LAN connections, at US$1,299. All are available now.

The state of North Dakota in the US has already begun pilot testing a custom application it developed in the last three months based on an early version of Extreme's widget software, said Glen Rutherford, the state's network architect. The application allows for a universal port mechanism on Extreme switching gear to allow any user to unplug an IP office phone and plug it in at another location, with information about the transfer automatically recorded to a Central Management Database (CMDB) from Oracle, Rutherford explained.

With the information recorded automatically, users don't need to fill out a phone transfer request, saving administrative time and avoiding any delay in getting the service fulfilled, he said. In addition, the system will automatically detect what phone type and model is installed to make sure the phone and its applications are properly supported or permitted in the system.

The custom application has been successfully tested within the IT shop, and could be expanded to affect all of the state's workers in coming months, covering about 60,000 IP addresses, Rutherford said.

The only cost to build the application was the time needed by two staff developers on the project, Rutherford said. "The user can make their own choice to move a phone, yet we will know that happened," he said. "It will definitely save us money, a lot, on the administrative side."

Rutherford said that even though several large network management vendors sell the capability to inventory and monitor phones and other hardware in the network, he preferred a custom tool. "We've found that those large software packages don't follow your business model," he said. "If you buy those Saran-wrapped network management packages, they can be great at one or two aspects, but they can never fully manage everything."

The application is designed to help centralized IT managers aid technicians at 650 offices in the field find network problems with online access to photographs of a precise switching closet so that repairs or upgrades can be made with several technicians on a phone call, if required, Rutherford said.

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