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Interop Preview: Tech Industry Gets Ready To Rumble

The nation's leading business technology event, Interop, gains added breadth this year as it is co-located with Software 2008, an event aimed at software developers, users, and industry executives.
National Insecurity

Another IT-related topic that's popping up in the general news media with increasing frequency is information security -- or lack thereof. Government bodies like the National Institutes of Health and corporate giants such as Acxiom and ChoicePoint have been pummeled in the headlines following embarrassing security breaches that left consumers' personal data vulnerable to theft.

In the aftermath, the NIH even went so far as to ban employees from using Apple MacBooks until they could be outfitted with effective encryption software.

"The costs attributed to data theft and data loss is staggering as more users -- both inside and outside the company -- have broader access to sensitive data than ever before," Interop organizers note. Those concerned about the issue might want to check out the session "Preventing Enterprise Data Loss: Best Practices to Identify, Control and Manage Sensitive Data."

The session, on Thursday at 10:15 a.m. PDT, will be led by Todd Graham, senior technologist at RSA, which is EMC's security division.

Closely related to data security is the issue of physical security, both for buildings and employees. More companies are turning to computer-based systems to protect both their physical and human assets. "The convergence of physical security and enterprise IT is growing at a staggering rate," Interop organizers say. But many of these systems, such as surveillance cameras and face recognition technology, have drawn complaints from privacy advocates.

What's The Right Balance?

The question will surely come up at a panel discussion titled "Best Practices In Physical Security" on Tuesday at 2 p.m. PDT. The panel, hosted by IP Video Security Editor-in-Chief Kevin Marier, will feature security professionals from retail, law enforcement, and city government.

Greener Is Cleaner

This week saw Earth Day, and cities around the world held events to mark the occasion. But is global warming just a myth invented by Al Gore and a few other retired gadflies with too much time on their hands? The scientific debate is ongoing, but one thing is inarguable whatever your position on the issue -- greener is cheaper because it lowers electricity and gas bills.

Given the importance of the issue, Interop this year will host a conference-within-conference called Energy Camp. "Energy Camp is a collaborative forum where industry stakeholders will gather together to discuss the growing impact of today's energy costs on IT's bottom line," according to the camp's organizers.

Energy Camp will follow the Open Space "unconference" format, with attendees deciding session topics. Suggested topics to date include ways to extend green computing beyond the data center and methods for encouraging eco- and budget-friendly alternatives to business travel. "Is video conferencing a reasonable substitute for what might have been a face-to-face meeting?," conference organizers ask.

Microsoft chief environmental strategist Rob Bernard will deliver the Energy Camp keynote address on Monday at 9:15 a.m. PDT in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

On the exhibit hall floor, Interop will feature 25% more vendors than last year, according to conference operator TechWeb, which publishes InformationWeek.

Click here for a full list of vendors and planned product introductions.

Interop, which runs April 27 through May 2, also gains added breadth this year as it's co-located at Mandalay Bay with Software 2008. The latter features a range of panels and demonstrations targeted at software developers, users, and industry executives.

With all that and more, it's virtually assured that Interop 2008 will weigh in as the heavyweight champ of IT conferences.