Interop Labs: Network engineers focus on NAC, UC products

In early April, in a drafty warehouse in Belmont, California, dozens of network engineers attempted to piece together hundreds of commercial and open source products as part of the 2008 Interop Labs initiative.

In early April, in a drafty warehouse in Belmont, Calif., dozens of network engineers attempted to piece together hundreds of commercial and open source products as part of the 2008 Interop Labs initiative.

The Interop Labs serve as a neutral proving ground where vendors can test their products in accordance with emerging standards. The all-volunteer teams of network and software engineers have a long history of providing an honest assessment of how useful these technologies will or won't be in a large scale network. As the media sponsor of the Interop Labs, Network World gets exclusive access to the pre-stage event that literally sets the stage for the testing demonstrations showcased on the tradeshow floor this week in Las Vegas.

The focal points of this year's iLabs endeavors involve two of the hottest buzzwords in the network industry: network access control (NAC) and unified communications. The NAC InteropLabs team has zoomed in on how vendors are adapting to the evolving state of NAC standard. The unified communications team has endeavored to piece together various commercial and open source products that collectively provide the ability for users to be contacted using any method of their choosing, regardless of their locale in what is admittedly an area that seems to be more promise than practice at this juncture.

We've placed Network World Lab Alliance members Joel Snyder on the NAC team (see story) and David Newman (see story) on the unified communications team to provide a bird's eye view of the testing taking place at the Interop Labs hot stage event and continuing in Las Vegas this week.

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