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Interop soldiers on in the face of a bad economy, swine flu

Cloud computing and data center architectures emerge as key themes for the show

By , Network World
May 04, 2009 01:19 PM ET

Network World - Interop Las Vegas faces challenges because of restricted IT budgets nationwide, the poor economy and the unpredictable impact of a swine flu epidemic, but the show is forging ahead with new programs including a segment dedicated to cloud computing.

Interop's general manager Lenny Heymann says in an interview with Network World that Interop Las Vegas 2009, which runs from May 17-21 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, has to deal with some pretty harsh realities. He says preregistration for the show is pretty strong, but attendance will drop compared with last year. "Most events are down, and we expect the same," he says. "Travel money is difficult."  

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As if that is not enough, the outbreak of swine flu is making attendance even more unpredictable. "We're watching that closely and carefully," he says. "It's too soon to say if we have to change or modify our plans. It's almost three weeks out. So far I think everything is going to be fine."

Looking on the bright side, he says that given the obstacles facing attendees, those who show up will be focused and motivated. "We'll see for sure that folks that end up going to events in the current economy really have a need to know. They have dollars, and they have shopping lists. We've heard from other events that those who attend are strong and qualified," he says.

Show attendees will find a major new area of focus: cloud computing. "This is the first time at length that anyone's examined the use and impact of the cloud within the enterprise," Heymann says. "There are real strengths and upsides there, and dangers for security and compliance.”

The cloud track of educational sessions supplemented with Cloud Camp and a two-day Enterprise Cloud Summit will help corporate IT executives get a well-rounded view of this growing technology.

The summit features a barrage of speakers from vendors to analysts to consultants who look at cloud computing from angles including security, privacy, application selection and licensing. Attendees can then hit the show floor where Interop has marked out Cloud Zone -- an area where about 40 vendors of cloud-related products and services will camp out to show their wares, Heymann says.

Cloud Camp is a gathering of experts in the field who give brief introductions to the technology then field questions from the audience, Heymann says.

Interop also features Energy Camp, which aligns with the green-track conference sessions. Experts running the camp quiz attendees what they want to know about green computing and tailor the day to their interests, he says. Interop annually polls registrants about what they are interested in and this year shows a significant uptick in interest in energy savings, Heymann says. Those results are scheduled to be released next week.

Keynote speakers at the events lack the big guns of former years such as Cisco's John Chambers and Microsoft's Bill Gates, but they will zero on an the important area of redesigning data centers and the impact virtualization and cloud computing have on that effort, Heymann says. Executives from HP, IBM and SAP will present the Cloud Summit keynote addresses, and a panel of three vendors -- Brocade, Cisco and Riverbed Technology -- comprise the keynote panel called Reinventing the Data Center. Heymann says recent Cisco, HP and IBM announcements about their data center strategies will likely be fleshed out during these addresses.

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