"The original goal was to bring together various vendors and manufacturers to help them demonstrate and achieve interoperability," says Interop general manager Lenny Heymann. "Our role has never been more vital as technologies like cloud computing and mobile challenge traditional IT strategies and spur a new wave of innovation and reinvention. One of the goals now is to bring users into the mix and give them a voice."
Interop's keynote roster includes one of the computer industry’s most influential pioneers. Vint Cerf, a Google VP generally acknowledged as one of "the fathers of the Internet," will speak on Tuesday morning about the past, present, and future of the Web. Cerf is a co-designer of the TCP/IP protocol and a recipient of the U.S. National of Medal of Technology from President Clinton.
Cerf will be accompanied on stage by Interop founder Dan Lynch. Now a private investor, Lynch is also credited with seminal work on the TCP/IP protocols.
Other scheduled keynoters include Hewlett-Packard executive VP Dave Donatelli, Citrix president and CEO Mark Templeton, Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby, Cisco senior VP Brett Gallloway, Microsoft Azure general manager Zane Adams, Juniper Networks executive VP David Yen, and IBM Global Technology Services GM Scott Hopkins.
Beyond the keynotes, attendees will have the opportunity to join sessions that cover all the major issues facing IT professionals. Sessions are organized around tracks, 12 in all, that examine topics ranging from cloud computing, the data center, Enterprise 2.0 collaboration, the future of work, information security and risk management, networking, service delivery, unified communications, video, virtualization, and wireless and mobility.
"IT pros are gaining a wealth of new tools to drive business value, all the while under pressure to maintain high levels of service, security, and management in an increasingly virtualized environment," Heymann says. "Like in any transformation, the risks are big, as are the rewards."
These new architectures are maturing, and CIOs aren't just kicking the tires, Heymann says. "Don't believe the hype about the hype about the cloud—people are actually doing it" and need practical information not just about hardware and software, but also about legal issues, service-level agreements, privacy matters, and other aspects of managing a cloud infrastructure.
It's not just back-end technologies that will be in focus this year at Interop. New computing form factors, like tablets and smartphones, will be front and center as enterprises look to integrate these devices into their IT arsenals without compromising security or the user-friendliness that makes them so popular with workers. In one session in the Wireless and Mobility track, representatives from Avaya, Cisco, RIM, and Polycom will address the question, "Will Tablets Rule the World?"
New to Interop Las Vegas this year is InformationWeek Analytics Live, at which practicing IT pros from the InformationWeek Analytics team will host a series of interactive sessions around the consumerization of IT, IPv6, the "stack wars," automation, and other hot topics. "It's more of a discussion. It's a chance for people to learn from us but also to have a voice as well," Heymann says. The sessions are scheduled for Thursday morning, from 9:00 a.m. through 12:30 p.m.
Before the exhibition's formal kickoff on Tuesday, Interop is also presenting a series of Boot Camps aimed at tech execs who need to go in-depth on a single topic. The all-day Boot Camps, seven in all, are on Sunday, May 8, and Monday, May 9. Specializations include public clouds, security threats, principles of effective IT management, unified communications, virtualization management and private clouds, and leadership.
Vendors are expected to introduce more than 70 new products and services at Interop, according to show organizers. And, as usual, Interop will feature an attendee party. This year's bash will take place at the Eye Candy Sound Lounge & Bar in Mandalay Bay, on Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.