Interop Preview: Cloud Computing, ROI In Spotlight

Attendees of the Las Vegas conference, May 17-21, will learn how cloud computing and social networking can give a lift to return on investment.
Times are tight, and companies may be cutting back on business travel. But that shouldn't be a reason to skip Interop, May 17-21 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, according to the conference's general manager, Lenny Heymann.

"Interop is a very efficient event and the ROI is very high," said Heymann. "It's broad and deep, and there are customizable ways in which people can get a lot of information in a short time."

The show this year features more than 400 vendors, tracks on 18 different technologies, and dozens of interactive sessions and seminars. "There's a tremendous amount of content," said Heymann, who noted that in addition to paid sessions, Interop Las Vegas also includes a number of events that can be attended free of charge.

And the lousy economy holds an upside for those planning on attending Interop. "It's never been cheaper to fly to and stay in Las Vegas," said Heymann.

In terms of content, nothing is hotter than cloud computing, and Interop "has the bases covered," said Heymann. The show features Cloud Camp on Monday evening, where attendees can exchange ideas with each other and learn more about Web-based architectures from the experts. "This allows anyone to get a toehold in terms of learning about the cloud experience," said Heymann, adding that "cloud computing is for real."

All told, Interop features more than a dozen events related to cloud computing. Other specific areas of focus include the data center, networking, virtualization, security, VoIP and communications, Enterprise 2.0, videoconferencing, IT management, software as a service (SaaS), storage, and wireless and mobility.

On the show floor, exhibitors will display new products and outline their business plans. "A lot of the major vendors have undergone significant changes over the past year," said Heymann. "This is their chance to tell their story."

Indeed, a number of tech companies, such as Sun and Oracle, Brocade and Foundry, and Enterasys and Siemens, have joined forces with an eye toward bringing more robust solutions to market. Others have realigned internally to put their best face forward. "HP ProCurve has been more fully integrated into HP under CEO Mark Hurd," Heymann noted. "You'll see their full line of servers and other infrastructure components at the HP booth."

Interop also boasts a number of keynotes from senior IT industry executives. HP executive VP Ann Livermore takes the lead Tuesday morning at 8:30 with a talk on changes in the IT vendor landscape, and how those changes will impact the user community.

Livermore will be followed on stage by Marius Haas, senior VP and general manager for HP ProCurve Networking. Haas will address trends in the infrastructure space and what IT managers need to know when it comes to planning for future investments.

Also on Tuesday, Stephen Herrod, CTO at VMware, will deliver a talk called "The Path To Cloud Computing." Herrod will discuss the role that virtualization plays in developing a "cloud operating system" that is sufficiently flexible and efficient to meet the demands of cloud computing.

On Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., Russ Daniels, HP's CTO for cloud services, will provide more information on cloud architectures. Following Daniels' presentation, SAP CTO Vishal Sikka will outline SAP's vision for future platforms and what the business application vendor is doing to deliver on that promise. He'll be followed by Ric Telford, IBM's VP for cloud services. Telford will make the case for Big Blue's take on cloud computing and what it means for customers.

On Wednesday at 8:30 a.m., F5 Networks president and CEO John McAdam will open the day with a keynote address on how IT can drive competitive advantage for businesses. "McAdam will elaborate on architecting intelligent points of control within your network to better leverage current resources, reduce costs, and optimize IT agility," according to show organizers at Interop parent company United Business Media.

McAdam is followed by Skype general manager and VP Stefan Oberg. What's Skype, which is mostly known as a VoIP system for consumers, doing at an IT trade show? "Oberg will talk about the consumerization of IT," said Heymann. "Technology is coming in from the consumer side and is being applied to the business side. The talk is going to be about the future of communications."

In addition to the formal sessions and keynotes, Interop also features several Unconferences -- sessions in which attendees drive the conversation. This year's Unconferences will focus on data centers, mobility, networks, WANs and content delivery networks, and social platforms. "We tend to forget how important community is. Being with your peers and experts is invaluable," said Heymann.

Speaking of community, Interop isn't all work. The show includes an attendee party on Tuesday, starting at 5:00 p.m., at Eye Candy Sound Lounge & Bar in Mandalay Bay.

Learn more about all the latest products and technologies at TechWeb's Interop Las Vegas, May 17-21. Join us (registration required).

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