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Final Thoughts About Interop

Goodbye Las Vegas, hello reality

Well I've been out of Las Vegas for several days now so I've had time to adjust back to normal society and reflect a bit more on Interop2012.  My colleague Bob "LAN" Laliberte met with nearly everyone in the industry and while I don't remember every encounter, here are a few final thoughts:

1.  Whither data center fabric?  Everyone was talking about data center fabrics last year -- TRILL, SPB, QFabric, Fabricpath, etc.  This year however, hardly a word was spoken although we did have a good meeting with old friends at Juniper about QFabric.  The ironic thing is that data center fabrics are real and many large organizations are moving in this direction.  According to a recent ESG Research survey, 17% of enterprises cluster data center Ethernet switches "extensively, " while another 48% do so "somewhat."  This clustering usually takes place at the access layer for device redundancy, to reduce network complexity, and for load balancing across multiple devices.  So fabric architecture is real but vendors aren't talking about it while SDN is still in a formative stage yet everyone is talking about it. 

2.  Zynga CTO keynote.  I caught a bit of a keynote presentation by Zynga CTO Allan Leinwand.  If you are interested in cloud computing and haven't heard Allan's schpiel, you should make the time.  Znyga tends to use public cloud resources to introduce new games.  Why?  Since it can't predict how many gamers will show up on day one, it needs to have excess capacity on hand.  Once each game reaches a steady state, Zynga brings it back to internal resources.  The really neat thing here is that Zynga has tuned its infrastructure for its gaming applications so it can squeeze out as much performance and optimization as possible.  Kind of dev ops on steroids.  The lessons here is that infrastructure is not as vanilla as everyone thinks and that the cloud can be tuned for applications just like 3-tiered transaction processing architectures were in the past. 

3. The Embrane Layer 4-7 brain.  I really like Embrane's model of picking up Layer 4-7 services and moving them together to the virtual world.  What's more, Embrane provides central management and monitoring for the whole enchilada.  Embrane understands that these are network 'services,' that should easily be put in place to 'service' workloads and applications.  I don't think Embrane will replace firewalls and load balancers, but it can surely supplement existing hardware controls in the cloud.

4.  McAfee IDS/IPS grid.  A few years ago, I thought McAfee would follow Symantec's lead and exit the network security market.  Boy was I wrong!  McAfee continues to be a leader in this space, introducing a high-end IDS/IPS grid architecture at Interop.  I see a lot of enterprises struggling to centralize IDS/IPSs to gain global visibility so this architecture is spot on.

5.  Dell's metamorphosis.  Very impressive meetings at Interop with the Force10 and SonicWall teams from Dell.  Beyond acquisitions, Dell is hiring aggressively, building solutions, and layering in services.  The "new" Dell is more like IBM and less like the old transactional Dell.

6.  Cisco WAAS wins best of show.  Cisco dropped the ball on WAN optimization several years ago.  For a while I thought Cisco would give up on this market or even buy Riverbed but neither of these things happened.  Instead, Cisco doubled down on development, came out with a new WAAS product last year, and is pushing the product into its base.  Heck, Cisco WAAS even won a best of Interop award.  Don't be surprised if you see a Cisco resurgence in other areas soon.

It really was a good show though I'm glad its over.  I won't be returning to Las Vegas anytime soon. 

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