Extreme Networks Nabs Hitachi Vantara’s Monica Kumar As CMO

Networking specialist Extreme Networks has brought on Monica Kumar as its new chief marketing officer, the company announced Wednesday.

Kumar’s first priority, she told CRN, is to elevate the Extreme Networks brand and take it to the next phase by going after the competition.

“I know we are in a big market with a lot of established players, so I am going to focus on elevating our brand and value proposition through specific go-to-market motions that are going to help us win in a more consistent, repeatable, scalable manner,” she said.

Those motions include bringing in new logos and expanding routes to market through strategic partnerships, she added.

“The things that are going really well for Extreme, which I think we need to capitalize more on, is the simplicity of how we deliver our solutions and help customers,” Kumar said. “That simplicity of management, that we do everything through a single network and in a single cloud, our competition can’t really deliver that.”

Kumar is replacing Wes Durow, Extreme’s CMO since 2020, who has moved on this month to open his own marketing consultancy firm called Red Bridge Insights.

“[Kumar] is a perfect combination of a technical and business savvy marketing leader with a talent for driving impactful initiatives that boost customer acquisition and revenue growth,” Extreme Networks CEO Ed Meyercord said in a statement. “Extreme has a highly differentiated set of solutions; we’ve shaken up the status quo of the networking industry, and we’re taking share. [Kumar’s] track record of transforming hardware businesses to highly successful SaaS businesses that drive recurring revenue will be instrumental as we continue to extend our leadership position in cloud networking.”

Kumar comes to Extreme Networks from Hitachi Vantara where she served as CMO since January. In her most recent role, she drove a product simplification strategy that brought the company’s portfolio of data storage products together into one platform. Kumar was also a key figure in the launch of Hitachi’s new brand strategy and narrative which helped drive awareness, customer acquisition, and long-term growth, according to Extreme Networks.

Kumar said that she views technology as a means to an end.

“I really love this notion of using technology to help human beings. That’s what gets me excited. Extreme is an incredible opportunity for me, looking at the significant market opportunity, looking at incredible product portfolio, and then layering that on with the transition that the company is going through from a hardware to a SaaS-based company. For me personally, I thought this would be a great journey to get on,” she said.

Prior to her time with Hitachi Vantara, Kumar served as senior vice president of marketing and cloud go-to-market at Nutanix for more than three years. Before that, she spent 22 years at Oracle in a variety of marketing roles, including vice president, database and big data cloud marketing. At both Nutanix and Oracle, Kumar was instrumental in shifting both organizations from traditional hardware companies to thriving software subscription businesses, Extreme Networks said.

She’s no stranger to helping the companies make the transition to the cloud.

“When I ran database marketing at Oracle, we went from both software and hardware to completely cloud-based offerings and that was a huge pivot both internally and externally in how we sell, how customers consume the technology; it’s a very different way of selling,” Kumar said. It’s a progression of not only sales, but how the company engages with end customers and partners so they can win bigger business, she added.

She did similar work at Nutanix when the company shifted from a premise-based portfolio to a cloud-based, recurring revenue-based portfolio.

“To me, that’s the exciting part of this new way of the SasS economy — the ongoing engagement with customers,” she said.

Kumar believes in leading with empathy. Outside of work, she’s an active board member for UPWARD Women, a professional training and coaching organization; and City Year San Jose, Silicon Valley, a program that works for educational equality for students. Kumar is also a founding member of Neythri Futures Fund, a historic first fund with a mission to increase the diversity quotient in the venture capital ecosystem.

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