Top vendors at Interop 2013

Here are the companies that put their money where their mouth is at Interop Las Vegas last week.

There’s a Katy Perry Song called "Waking Up in Vegas" in which the young Miss Perry sings "Shut up and put your money where your mouth is / that’s what you get for waking up in Vegas." That first line, "Shut up and put your money where your mouth is," should be the theme for Interop. Vendors all across the network market come to Mandalay Bay to show off their latest products and impress buyers, channel partners, media and Wall Street. The following is a list of vendors that I thought did indeed put their money where their mouth is (listed alphabetically):

Arista: Putting your money where your mouth is can be difficult most of the time, but it’s even more difficult when the mouth belongs to the enigmatic Doug Gourlay. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Doug, he’s the marketing equivalent of Terrell Owens. He talks a lot, but normally delivers. Arista and Doug are constantly yapping about performance and the new 7500E Data Center switch certainly didn’t disappoint. This is one monster of a switch with off-the-charts high-speed port density. In a quarter rack, the 7500E has a port density of 1,152 10 Gig-E ports, 288 40 Gig-E ports, or 96 100 Gig-E ports. Remember, these densities are in a quarter rack. The product is also optimized for the virtual data center with VXLAN termination and a bunch of other features.

Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise: ALU has come a long way in the enterprise over the past few years. Led by its Application Fluent Network (AFN) vision, the company has rapidly built itself a completely revamped networking portfolio that can compete with all of the heavyweights. I’ve always liked ALU’s practical approach to networking and its commitment to industry standards. At Interop, the company announced four new products: OmniSwitch 6450 Lite for campus LANs, OmniAccess Enterprise Services Router, new 802.11n and ac Aps and controllers, and a reasonably priced, high-performance top-of-rack switch (OmniSwitch 6900 10GBaseT). All of the products fit into the AFN vision and help the company deliver an end-to-end network.

Brocade: This was a busy week for Brocade as EMC World was in Vegas last week as well. At Interop, Brocade was demonstrating the virtual router it acquired from Vyatta. I’ve long felt that the Vyatta router was a solution looking for a problem, which it was. However, the rise of cloud computing and the virtual network has finally given the vRouter a purpose. The new version of the Vyatta router supports Multicast routing and Dynamic Multipoint VPN.

Extreme Networks: Extreme didn’t exhibit on the show floor but they did have a hotel suite with demos running and a seemingly endless supply of In-N-Out Burgers. In the suite, Extreme was showing some practical uses cases for SDNs (I know, practical and SDNs can be somewhat of an oxymoron). The one I liked most was the ability to have applications change network configuration settings, such as QoS, through its programmable interface. Another use case was a physical security application where non-technical people could control security cameras through an Extreme-based portal. Lastly, Extreme showed some interoperability with NEC’s controller to enable network virtualization and traffic management.

ExtraHop: The company was a best-of-show finalist in two categories and I think it was the only vendor with this distinction. ExtraHop won for "ExtraHop for Amazon Web Services" that allows customers to monitor in the Amazon cloud, rather than use it blindly. The AWS product auto-discovers and auto-classifies applications and infrastructure that pass over the network with no agents or other software to deploy. While the AWS product won best of show, I think the other new product, the EH8000, might the better product, although both are pretty strong. The EH8000 is a version of its current product but can sustain L2-7 analysis at 20 Gig. This allows ExtraHop to analyze a massive amount of data to understand application experience.

Gigamon: If you’re a fan of Cisco’s Fabric Extenders (FEX), you’ll love the product from Gigamon. The GigaVUE-HB1 Visibility Fabric node allows customers to extend the visibility fabric to more locations with this low-cost, 1 RU fabric extender. This product is best suited for distributed sites, wiring closets and anywhere that’s too expensive to put a larger, chassis-based system in. As an added benefit, the overly bright orange color makes it easy to spot in the data center!

Hughes Networks: Most people know Hughes as a satellite company, but over the past few years, Hughes has transformed itself into a managed service provider that offers aggregated broadband services, as well as satellite. Hughes actually has well over 300,000 sites under management and is the No. 3 MSP in the U.S., behind only AT&T and Verizon. Every Hughes location has a Hughes Gateway, a physical box on-premise to terminate the network connection and provide application compression and QoS capabilities. At Interop, Hughes was showing off a new product, the HR4700 Branch Gateway, which is the traditional gateway with Fortinet security software integrated into it. The HR4700 is at full-feature parity as the Fortinet appliance, so all Hughes MSP customers can have best-in-class security without the need for a separate box.

Talari Networks: Talari announced the 3.0 version of its Adaptive Private Networking (APN) operating system that powers its Mercury WAN appliances. The 3.0 version of APN offers an easy-to-use, simple and automated way to adapt the WAN based on application criterion. There’s no doubt that mobility and cloud are redefining the WAN and the APN 3.0 software enables customers to keep their legacy architecture in place and then create dynamic meshed connections when required.

Verisign: The undisputed leader in domain name registration and DNS was discussing a new global traffic management service at Interop. I don’t think it was on display anywhere, but I met with the company and was briefed on the product. This is similar to appliance-based global server load balancers available from ADC vendors, but offered as a service. For a new service, I was impressed with the breadth of features, which includes failover services, geolocation load balancing and weighted load balancing, as well as an intuitive end-user portal. For companies looking to leverage cloud services but don’t want to go through the hassle of deploying global load balancers, this is a great option.

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