An IT Pro's View: Why Interop is a Unique IT Conference

A returning visitor to Interop in Las Vegas outlines what sets the conference apart from so many other technology events.

Andrew Froehlich, President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

May 1, 2019

4 Min Read

I’ve been attending technical trade shows and conferences since 2003. Over that time, I’ve witnessed a dramatic shift in the style and content these conferences deliver. Instead of being focused on problems that we face in enterprise IT, most conferences today are now solely focused on the products. While there is clearly a market for product-focused technology conferences, it’s nice to know that a few shows still offer the ability to dig deep into what issues IT professionals face without being bombarded with product marketing.

Interop is probably the best conference in the industry at providing this uniquely special angle. Let’s talk about who Interop is for – and why you should be attending.

Interop for IT management and executives

CIO’s and top IT management should be paying little attention to technology vendors and products. These are the types of details that should be left to implementation-focused employees. Instead, their focus should be on how they can use technology to shape business strategy. At Interop, IT managers and executives from around the world can gather to listen to and share their ideas about how to solve business problems using enterprise tech.

Upcoming Interop presentations surrounding IT leadership and strategy include stories of successful technical implementations – and potential pitfalls to avoid -- the business impact on emerging technologies, how to use technology in a more strategic manor, and how to help IT staff thrive in your organization. While some of this content will be presented by technology vendors, much of it will come from other enterprise IT executives in both the public and private sectors who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences with you.

Interop for IT architects

From a technical perspective, Interop consists of topics that cover a birds-eye view of the entire enterprise infrastructure. These topics include IT networking, cloud computing, data/analytics and DevOps. Architects can choose to follow a single technology track, or pick and choose among them. In addition to your traditional IT presentation formatting, Interop also offers deep-dive and multi-day summit and workshop sessions. What’s nice about Interop is that the sessions cover not only emerging technologies that won’t be production ready for a few years, but also technologies that businesses are implementing right now. Thus, it provides a good mix of usable content for today as well as informative, forward-thinking content for the future.

Again, a unique value that IT architects will benefit from at Interop is that many of the sessions are led by other enterprise architects, not just IT vendors looking to sell a product. It gives attendees the chance to learn tips/tricks from those who have already done it. Because of the cozy setting of Interop, you can likely track down many of those speakers post-presentation and engage in deeper conversations, if you choose.

Interop for IT security professionals

If there's one area of enterprise IT that’s constantly bombarded by vendor-specific marketing, it's IT security. That said, Interop security sessions I've attended in the past have been a refreshing change to the norm. Most of them provide incredibly useful security insights -- while largely avoiding specifics on how to do it using a specific security product. This makes it great for attendees just starting to get into IT security without being swayed by vendor marketing. In terms of specific content that may interest newer security professionals, this year’s Interop offers sessions on how to achieve “reasonable security” to protect against public/legal scrutiny, a live incident response simulation and a complete two-day Cybersecurity crash course.

Interop also is great for CISO's who are seeking a broad view of the most important security topics of the day. Topics include the pros and cons of using security-focused managed services, how to deal with IT security talent shortages and tips to manage C-level cybersecurity fears. If you’re a CISO and are looking for unique insights on how to navigate your infrastructure security vision, you can’t get much better than Interop.

Final thoughts

Even though Interop is hosted directly on the Las Vegas Strip -- with all its fun and exciting distractions -- you’ll likely experience a refreshing sense of intimacy once you enter the conference hall. The comfortable setting created by the Interop team allows attendees to focus on the content and to meet and interact with other likeminded professionals. I’ve personally come away from Interop with long lasting skills, knowledge and new professional relationships that have proven incredibly valuable. It’s this intimacy and comfortableness that you’re not likely to get at the mega-conferences that are so common these days.

[Interop 2019 runs May 20-23 at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Click here for more information.]

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About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich

President & Lead Network Architect, West Gate Networks

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Having lived and worked in South East Asia for nearly three years, Andrew possesses a unique international business and technology perspective. When he's not consulting, Andrew enjoys writing technical blogs and is the author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex.

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