InteropNet: We Build It New Every Year - InformationWeek

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2/5/2014
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InteropNet: We Build It New Every Year

InteropNet is built from the ground up every year to incorporate new ideas and technologies that find their way to enterprise networks.

InteropNet shares many traits with the typical enterprise network, but it’s unique in one important aspect: it essentially starts as a blank sheet of paper each time we build it for the Interop conference. That sheet quickly becomes scrawled with ideas and designs, and eventually becomes a fully deployed network to serve exhibitors and attendees at Interop.

The ability to continually re-invent and re-invigorate the network is one reason vendors keep coming back to support this project. They take what they’ve learned over the last cycle and come back looking to provide additional benefits with improved hardware, systems and/or code. The return for these partners is that methodologies originally developed for InteropNet can also be applied to an SMB or enterprise network.

For the Las Vegas conference, Avaya is updating and revising the network design to factor in new equipment that better meets the InteropNet parameters of dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 with Shortest Path Bridging. Network Hardware Resale (NHR) is taking a larger role by adding edge routing and voice to its switching capabilities. F5, which plays a major role in InteropNet, has reworked its equipment list. It’s now using more power-efficient equipment that better suits our data center/services environment. F5 has also scaled the equipment to minimize overhead.

Meanwhile, vendors such as Path Solutions and ScienceLogic have developed partnerships with other InteropNet vendors to better serve our needs and to also help them develop a more ubiquitous product line. For example, Path Solutions worked with Avaya to gather information that lets Path Solutions better represent the Avaya fiber optic statistics in its management platform.

InteropNet also seeks out new vendors that offer something a little different from what we normally see. These vendors come in with fresh ideas and concepts that really get the team excited.

While we stay true to our history and the task at hand, we’re always looking for the bold and the new so we can tell a better story through our education and tour program and get a fresh perspective from organizations that are contributing to the InteropNet for the first time.

For instance, TSO Logic gives IneropNet new visibility into application power usage and performance. We’ve always monitored the power at the physical level, but we couldn’t move up the stack to look at the transaction-based power cost until TSO Logic came on board.

Meanwhile, a continual challenge for the InteropNet is that of path and flow awareness of our Internet traffic and application traffic. ThousandEyes has joined the roster in an attempt to better understand our external Internet traffic patterns and performance.

The blank sheet that we started with in January 2014 is now being filled in. The old hands are streamlining our approach and the new faces are making us think a little differently. All the while, the final plans are being developed and readied to test at hot stage and then deployed at the event.

We hope you’ll stop by for our free, engineer-led tours of the InteropNet throughout the Expo. We’ll also share behind-the-scenes views on Wednesday, April 2 and Thursday, April 3 at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm starting at the InteropNet Network Operations Center (NOC).

Glenn Evans, founder and CEO of Acrux Consulting, is the lead network engineer for the InteropNet project. He brings more than 25 years of systems and networking experience in both management and technical operations, including 15 years in the event space. View Full Bio

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Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
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2/12/2014 | 12:34:34 PM
Re: Behind the scenes
Brandon, thanks for the additional info. Is there anything you're paticularly excited about as far as the design for the network this year?
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
2/7/2014 | 4:26:39 PM
Behind the scenes
Glenn, thanks for the behind-the-scenes view of the InteropNet. I have taken the tour at the conference several times, but I never realized how much work went on so far in advance and that you had a Hot Stage in California. Exactly how far ahead do you start planning and how many people are involved?
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