Early indications show that SDNs, BYOD and 10GBase-T will be big topics at Interop. Vendors are expected to demonstrate products in these areas, conference sessions will target them and attendees will likely be looking for solutions or answers to their pressing or potential requirements for them.
SDNs, or software-defined networks, are intriguing in that they promise to decouple network programmability from the specific commands - and command line interfaces - of individual routers and switches from multiple vendors. In so doing, SDNs have the potential to liberate end-users from the proprietary hardware and software "lock-in" of their primary vendors and allow them to purchase hardware from any vendor and configure it through a single tool, provided those switches and routers support similar APIs and protocols.
OpenFlow is one, and it has a lot of industry support and attention. But there are several ways to program a network so expect to see and hear about these various methods, as well as from the OpenFlow proponents.
Cisco has a multifaceted SDN/programmability strategy, including some support for OpenFlow as well as a spin-in company it's incubating with a $100 million investment. Cisco claims to be an early provider of programmable networking through its Nexus 1000v virtual switch, but many in the SDN community believe SDNs may marginalize Cisco's dominant influence in networking by abstracting the proprietary nuances of its, and any vendor's hardware.
BYOD is another hot button in enterprise networking and a pressing need in enterprises today. Cisco studies have concluded that 40%+ of college students and young employees would give up a chunk of their compensation just to plug in their personal device at work.
So with employees increasingly demanding and using their personal mobile devices to access corporate data and applications, IT departments are facing an onslaught of unmanaged devices attempting access to the corporate network. This creates a potential security and management nightmare for IT departments.
But instead of denying access from personal devices IT shops are crafting corporatewide policies on how to manage and accommodate the trend. So expect to see a lot of BYOD solutions on display at Interop.
Enterasys, for example, will show off its new Mobile IAM hardware appliance and virtual appliance for mobile device management. The appliance controls where the devices - such as laptops, smartphones and tablets -- can go on a corporate network and what they can do.
Enterasys this week just announced an integration arrangement with Plixer to shares user login credentials gathered by Mobile IAM with Plixer's Scrutinizer 9.0 NetFlow analysis tool. This integration is intended to enable IT administrators to see: who and what is connected to the network; what applications they are using; where the devices are and who they are communicating with; when they are consuming too much bandwidth; and how to change the level of access for user and/or device type.
For its part, Cisco in March enhanced its Identity Services Engine policy manager and wireless LAN software, and rolled out two new management applications to help enterprises support BYOD. Expect to see ISE and these BYOD enhancements in the Cisco booth next week - if they're not there, time to ask questions.
Copper-based 10G Ethernet should also be hot given that Intel recently announced its "Romley" server platform with embedded 10GBase-T connectivity. Romley is expected to drive down the price of 10G Ethernet and spur even wider adoption, stoking demand for 10G Ethernet switching - industry analysts expect the Ethernet switch market to double its annual growth rates in 2013 and 2014.
So expect switch vendors at next week's show to show off their 10Gbase-T copper ports on data center switches to accommodate new Romley-based blade and rack mount servers, or any server with embedded 10GBase-T LAN on motherboard connectivity.
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