Interop Preview: 10 Things To Do And See At The Conference

With so much going on at the Interop conference in Las Vegas, we've pulled out 10 cool things you should check out while you're there.

Sharon Gaudin, Contributor

May 16, 2007

6 Min Read

Wondering what to see and do at the Interop conference in Las Vegas?

Strap on your walking shoes because there's a hefty list of keynotes, educational boot camps, and sessions at this year's six-day event. And that's just the beginning. Add on to that a program focused on 'greening up' networks and data centers, a Start-Up City for the next wave of too-cool companies, a Web 2.0 component, and a burgeoning security track that includes an SMB program and a CSO Boot Camp.

"Interop has grown to reflect the power of the network, as well as the breadth of it," said Interop General Manager Lenny Heymann, in an interview with InformationWeek. "It's about all the things needed to help companies communicate with each other and their customers. For the last few years, though, the enterprise has been heavily influenced by what's happening in the consumer market. People want information in anyplace, anytime, on any device."

That influence has injected some new ideas, such as Web 2.0 and the Green Program, into the show, which was launched in 1986. The conference, which Heymann said has been in Las Vegas for at least 10 years now, is having a growth spurt. There will 450 vendors this year, up from 400 last year. They're also expecting upwards of 19,000 attendees this year, and that's up, as well, from about 17,000 last year.

Interop is owned by CMP Media, which also is the owner of InformationWeek.

"Ultimately, at this point, the strength of business technology and the network and its center within companies is requiring IT to connect to people with data, but also to connect people with each other and allow them to share ideas," said Heymann. "And there's a lot of technology and ideas out there to help them do that."

With so much going on, Heymann offered his ideas on 10 cool things Interop attendees can catch at the show:

  1. Enterprise 2.0 -- Web 2.0 phenomenons like social network sites and the home-grown video craze of YouTube, is reaching into the business world with both hands. Enterprise 2.0 focuses on how companies can take Web 2.0 technologies and services and weave them into their businesses. Interop is offering an Enterprise 2.0 conference track, which runs on Tuesday, May 22, as well as an Enterprise 2.0 Boot Camp on Monday, May 21. "Obviously, a lot of Web 2.0 technologies are Web based and some companies have concerns about security and critical information being placed on the Internet," said Heymann. "But there are strategies and tools that can be used to address some of those concerns."

    The Green Program -- All attendees will be able to attend what event planners are calling the "greening IT primer." The audience will hear about what's coming down the road in the green movement -- reducing energy consumption, climate change, and regulations. On Wednesday, May 23, Andrew Winston, author of Green to Gold, and a panel of peers will discuss what's driving this greening push in the high-tech industry. "Everybody wants to make a difference and certainly the business technology market has a responsibility in slowing down changes we're making to the environment," said Heymann. "There's some real tangible issues that can be addressed, like energy consumption around the data center. We're seeing regulations here and overseas that are going to require more careful monitoring and usage around the data center."

    InteropNet -- For more than 20 years, Interop has kept its exhibitors, speakers, and attendees connected through the evolution of IP networking. The InteropNet is built from scratch with the assistance of 20 sponsors who contribute what Heymann called cutting-edge technology. The network is built with enough equipment to fill two semi-trailers, 12.5 miles of Cat 5e cable, 4.5 miles of fiber optic cable specially designed for the InteropNet, 1,000 amps of power and 1,200 ports of 10/100 and 1,000 Mbps Ethernet, as well as 30 ports of 10 Gbps Ethernet. Attendees can take tours of the network on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Security -- Of the 450 exhibitors at Interop this year, Heymann estimated that 20% to 25% are security related. "There's tremendous innovation in security and it's integral with any solution," he added. "It needs to be part of what people see at the show. No matter what IT solution you're working on, security needs to be a priority." Heymann noted that network access control is a hot topic as it represents a significant change in the way networks are secured. NAC Day is set for Monday, May 21, with talks scheduled on design and deployment, architecture, and end-point security. A CSO Boot Camp is scheduled for Sunday and Monday, while the SMB market also will get special attention in the security track. InteropLabs -- This is an area on the exhibit floor where engineers can come together to demonstrate and evaluate emerging technology. Exhibitors will be making their new products available for testing at InteropLabs. Network access control and VoIP technologies will be getting a once-over in this test bed.

    Keynote: John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems -- Chambers will be delivering the keynote on Tuesday morning. "He really does a great job every year of setting the tone for the event and for the industry and for setting out the course of things to come," said Heymann. "He talked quite a bit last year about video and collaboration. And, in fact, in the last 12 month, those have been really very key technologies that have risen to the top of the list for business technology users. This year he'll be talking at least some about mobility."

    Start Up City -- This Interop feature has been a fixture at the show for a number of years, according to Heymann. Attendees, journalists, analysts, and financial professionals can come to this area of the show floor to see the "next wave of important vendors," he added. "These are companies that are truly on the cutting edge. They reflect the different areas that Interop cares about." Other specialized areas of the show floor include the Security Zone, the Performance Zone, and the Web 2.0 Pavilion.

    Keynote: Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee -- The security company's new CEO will be giving a keynote address on Tuesday, May 22. "He's new at McAfee so this will be one of his first big public addresses," noted Heymann. "He'll presumably do an update on the company and a statement of what's to come."

    Broadband Wireless World -- With CMP's acquisition of Shorecliff Communications, this marks the first time that Broadband Wireless World has been wrapped into Interop. "It's bringing a whole new set of exhibitors and topics stressing broadband wireless and municipal wireless as well," said Heymann. There are several conference tracks on the topic on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Broadband Wireless World makes up a special area of the show floor, much like Start Up City and the Web 2.0 Pavilion.

    CRN Industry Hall of Fame -- The CRN Hall of Fame Channel Forum is a slate of activities that includes networking, educational sessions, and an awards program for industry leaders and solution providers. It will run on Monday, May 21, and Tuesday, May 22. Then the CRN Industry Hall of Fame induction, which is held Tuesday night, is an invitation-only event recognizing innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Industry Hall of Fame alumni include William Hewlett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ray Ozzie, Tim Berners-Lee, and Vint Cerf.

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