If networking is cool at Interop, then testing, the red-headed stepchild of networking, is going to make itself known. Factors like data center consolidation and virtualization are changing the demands made of the network for more resilient, low latency and high speed capacity.That means bigger, faster switches, denser port counts, and reducing switch hops. That also means more complexity and fragility that needs to be qualified before going into service.
After what seemed like a testing drought, established vendors like Spirent and Ixia are launching new products and testing programs to qualify network designs and determine performance issues early on.
The increasing complexity of today's networks from changing topologies to the protocols running over them is driving pre-qualification testing. Spirent is partnering with vendors and VARs to provide testing consulting services of components as well as end to end. The goal is to ensure that deployed network works as designed and any bottle necks are discovered and addressed.
Ixia hasn't been idling, however. They are working with the Test Lab Automation Alliance, which is a consortium of vendors like Ixia, MuDynamics, and Gale Technologies developing specifications to standardize the integration and orchestration of test tools and infrastructure into a manageable whole. Either through a service such as Spirents or integration standards from Test Lab Automation, performance testing will hopefully get easier for working IT administrators.
On the integration side, almost a year after the Trusted Computing Group Trusted Network Connect working group announced a specification for publishing and subscribing to device status updates called IF-MAP, the group was a demonstrating at their booth several vendors sharing and using data published to an IF-MAP server.
IF-MAP is a TCG specification for receiving and publishing device status that is updated as a device changes over time. Besides using IF-MAP for NAC, there are other uses. For example, Lumeta maps networks and can discover previously unknown leaks out of the network via modems or VPNs'. Discovery of such a leak may be case to raise and alarm or quarantine the host.
Lumeta can publish that status via IF-MAP and as shown in the demo, a Juniper UAC appliance, their NAC offering can take action. Hirsh Electronics, manufacturer of door locks, demonstrated integration by showing that a user that hadn't swiped their badge on entering a building was denied access to the network under the assumption that the user never entered the building. (Whether or not that was true or whether such access decisions are even desirable is an altogether different question. The integration is interesting.)
Finally, Boeing, Tofino which makes SCADA network security devices, and Trapeze Networks showed how location discovered via wireless networking can be used to grant or deny access to the network as well as how legacy devices can be protected and reported on via Byers Security Tofino Industrial Security Solution.
Tomorrow is a day mostly focused on switching. The other big topic at Interop.