The Interop conference runs from May 17-21 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Picking and choosing among the myriad sessions is never an easy task Here we highlight some of the more interesting gatherings and keynote addresses.
PICK OF THE DAY: Sunday, May 17, 9:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Removing the uncertainty and doubt (but not the fear)
Businesses are pressured from the outside to meet security compliance standards such as the Payment Card Industry standards and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, but compliance doesn't necessarily mean security. In order to protect the most important data, businesses have to rank their most valuable assets and take steps to protect them.
This session proposes a methodology for assessing risk quantitatively, then managing it across an entire corporation. Following this model results in knowing what data is most at risk, what risks to mitigate and what risks to accept, and how to impose a cost-benefit analysis on risk management. Because it isn't practicable for all data can receive the most stringent security, how should businesses decide and justify the measures taken to protect different classes of data?
This session is run by Amit Yoran, who was director of the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security as well as the CEO of In-Q-Tel, the venture capital arm of the CIA -- jobs that give him a unique insight into evaluating threats and finding measures to combat them. He is currently chairman and CEO of NetWitness.
Sunday, May 17, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Managing and securing mobile devices
This session will dig into the nuances and complexities of corporate mobile-device deployments. Run by Michael Finneran, a consultant who wrote "Voice Over Wireless LANs -- The Complete Guide", this course runs participants through a detailed checklist of deployment. But it also highlights security concerns that might not be apparent at the outset such as mobile-specific malware, frequency jamming and dissociation attacks. Finneran will recommend security measures per device type -- laptop, cell phone, PDAs and smartphones.
PICK OF THE DAY: Monday, May 18, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
A range of experts from the Environmental Protection Agency to academia to industry analysts will detail how businesses can save money on energy costs by scrutinizing their network architectures and the products they buy.
This session will start with a discussion between presenters and the audience to determine what topics most interest those attending. The rest of the program will be tailored to meeting those needs.
Included among the presenters is Mike Raftney, the director and co-founder of the Cork Internet eXchange, a data center in Ireland that was built with energy efficiency in mind. Prof. Saifur Rahman of Virginia Tech is also presenting on IEEE power and energy standards that can drive cost savings.
Monday, May 18, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Virtual environments have their own management and security concerns that vary depending on which vendor's virtualization software is employed and whether it is used on servers, desktops or both. This all-day series of sessions covers them all.
Presenters are Anne Skamarock and Barb Goldworm, both of whom are consultants with Focus. Also presenting is Martin Ruest, a consultant with Resolution Enterprises.
PICK OF THE DAY: Tuesday, May 19, 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Keynote addresses: Marius Haas, senior vice president and general manager of HP ProCurve Networking, and Dr. Stephen Herrod, CTO of VMware.
Haas will kick off Interop by calling for businesses to tightly link their choices of network infrastructure to their business goals. He will argue that successful businesses will reap maximum value from their IT infrastructure and seek out multiple vendors to accomplish this. The talk will also include his take on disruptive factors affecting IT and his predictions of where the industry as a whole is headed next.
Herrod will stress the flexibility and the more efficient use of IT resources that businesses can reap from cloud computing services. He plans to introduce the concept of the cloud operating system, an open approach to the underpinnings of cloud computing that requires cooperation among vendors and service providers. The results for businesses will be lower capital costs and the ability to focus IT resources directly on business goals and applications that support them rather than constantly tending to infrastructure problems.
Tuesday, May 19, 10:15 a.m. –11:15 a.m.
Key skill sets for the data center manager of the future
Running data centers efficiently is becoming increasingly critical. These power hogs are indispensable to businesses, and with budgets tighter than ever, bean counters are looking for savings. This session draws on the experience of two veteran data-center executives -- Paul Clark, the data center manager at The Ohio State University Medical Center, and Tim McLaine, the global functional manager of data center services for Perot Systems, who will talk about managing less experienced staff and preparing themselves for future demands. Forrester Research analyst Doug Washburn moderates the discussion.
Tuesday, May 19, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Social software tools: A critical evaluation
Based on research from CMS Watch, the company's founder Tony Byrne will share reported customer experiences with collaboration suites, blogs, wikis and portals. He will warn that products in these areas differ from vendor to vendor in their maturity and how good their support is. His goal is to better prepare corporate networking executives to evaluate the range of product types and also specific products.
Tuesday, May 19, 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Keynote addresses: Enterprise Cloud Summit
Interop organizers have scheduled a program exclusively about cloud computing that includes Cloud Camp, a fast-paced Q&A formatted session where attendees can network with others who are trying to work out cloud strategies. This keynote address is made up of three vendor experts who will present their spin on where clouds are headed and what the best strategy is for businesses creating their own clouds or buying cloud services. They include Russ Daniels, the vice president and CTO of cloud service strategy for HP; Vishal Sikka, CTO of SAP; and Ric Telford, vice president of cloud services for IBM.
Tuesday, May 19, 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Virtualization – life in the trenches
It's one thing to listen to vendors talk about the benefits of virtualization: more efficient use of servers, less impact on performance when demand surges, better control over application versioning and so on. It's another thing – and perhaps more instructive – to hear the experiences of someone who has actually deployed virtual infrastructure. Christopher Steffen, principal technical architect, Kroll Factual Data, which provides business information to lenders, and IT consultant David Straede, the president and COO of SBWH.com, will detail what worked and what didn't in their own real-world experiences.
A "crash" course in data replication
This session will sort out the overabundance of options for replicating data over the WAN. This mini-course examines everything from the applications involved to the disk drives to every device in between where the logic of replication is a factor. Topics include host, storage-area network and backup-system replication and the underlying hardware and software. Teaching this mini-course is Jacob Farmer, who is CTO of storage consultants Cambridge Computer Services and has served on advisory boards of storage start-up companies.
Wednesday, May 20, 11:30 a.m.– 12:30 p.m.
Understanding and implementing the windows mobile platform
Windows mobile has become one of the major operating systems that businesses contend with in their mobile deployments. This session delves into the devices the software runs on, how to secure it to enterprise standards and the management features it brings to a corporate network. Presenter Chris DeHerrera is a mobility architect for consultancy Enterprise Mobile where he's written a formal comparison of features and device management for the BlackBerry, iPhone and Windows Mobile, so he can put Windows Mobile into perspective.
Wednesday, May 20, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
UC applications with a payoff today
Consultant Don Van Doren, a principal at UniComm Consulting, will lead off with what he sees as the dollar savings and revenue opportunities of deploying unified communications. Karen Bailey, voice and communications services executive for Wells Fargo Bank, will outline her experiences deploying several UC projects. The two will finish off discussing UC cost benefits and fielding audience questions.
PICK OF THE DAY: Wednesday, May 20, 3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
Retrofitting today's data center for better capacity and efficiency
This session will offer penny-pinching tips on how to stretch scarce budget dollars and squeeze more life out of current data center gear, and to do so making more efficient use of power. Jack Pouchet, director of energy initiatives for Emerson Network Power, will share some of his firm's knowledge about data center streamlining. One principle the firm builds on: one watt saved at the processor level can save an average total of 2.84 watts in energy consumption.
Wednesday, May 20, 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
You're on the home stretch of the conference now and deserve a break. So take some time to relax with a beer supplied by a dozen participating exhibitors on the show floor. Walk around from watering hole to watering hole and quiz vendors about their wares. You might even hit some of the booths that aren't serving up brews.
Thursday, May 21, 11 a.m.
InteropNet -- the network infrastructure that Interop runs on -- is an annual miracle of planning and execution that brings together vendors that donate equipment and volunteers who donate their time to install a production network. With a pedigree that runs back to the first Interop plug fest, InteropNet tries to incorporate the latest technologies to determine how well they work in live, multivendor environments. The tour details key aspects of the network. The tour will be repeated on Tuesday, May 19, and Wednesday, May 20, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
PICK OF THE DAY: Thursday, May 21, 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Is there a compelling business case for desktop virtualization?
Desktop virtualization can create the opportunity to lower operational costs and reduce the total cost of ownership for desktops, according to presenters at this session. Barb Goldworm, an analyst and president of Focus, will give her spin on this issue and Tim FitzGerald of Avnet, an IT distributor and consultancy, will talk about where businesses can wring out savings using virtual desktops. These tips will help attendees decide if desktop virtualization is right for them and if so how to work up a compelling funding proposal.