Interop Las Vegas 2007 planning guide

Whether you own a five-employee business or are CIO of a Fortune 500 company, almost everything you need to know about running your network can be learned at Interop.

From wireless optimization, storage and service-oriented architecture (SOA) to collaboration, VoIP and something called “enterprise 2.0,” Interop, with its top analysts and vendors, should have your interests covered. There are too many sessions for one person to attend, but this planning guide will tell you about some of the most important themes and sessions to expect at Interop Las Vegas 2007.

As the network goes, so goes Interop

Two decades after the birth of Interop, the network’s importance is growing each day and, as Lenny Heymann, the event’s general manager, says, “is becoming the de facto platform for how people do business.”

With Interop Las Vegas on tap for May 20-25 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Heymann notes that Interop’s effort to attract bigger audiences and educate them about a broader range of markets reflects the network’s growing influence.

Showgoers will learn about security of all types, because at least 25% of the more than 400 exhibitors expected are in the security space, Heymann says. VoIP and collaboration, not surprisingly, will be front and center, and “this year there are other additions. Virtualization and optimization are technology areas that are more and more critical [and] have to be looked at in terms of how you build out the network, he says.

Delivering and deploying applications is an emerging focus of Interop and has been for several years, Heymann says. “It really gets to the heart of the network as a platform where the application has to be much better integrated into the network,” he says. “There is a growing dialogue between application providers and network providers in how well the network provides intelligence to the application.”

Naturally, one of Interop’s major themes is interoperability. The ability of sections of the network to interact with each other has improved considerably during Interop’s life span. “It took some years for the network to talk to itself, and that’s assumed now,” Heymann says. Barriers still exist, nevertheless, and they must be removed to ensure quick access to network services.

Interoperability in wireless networks will be examined in the Broadband Wireless track on Tuesday and Wednesday (May 22-23) of show week, and there will be an entire exhibit area dedicated to broadband wireless.

“People call that a show within a show,” Heymann says. “We’ve covered this quite richly over a number of years. . . . One of the things we are highlighting this year beyond enterprise wireless is the fixed-mobile convergence area. This is all about how you can use one phone over your internal office network and the cellular network as well, and how those two networks are being integrated.”

Interop’s security programs will include a full-day seminar on Monday, May 21, about network access control called “NAC Day.”

NAC is “changing the way people look at security and being able to customize access to resources based on identity,” Heymann explains. “NAC can help identify whether you and your computer are safe to be on the network, and once you are, can direct you to specific resources based on who you are and what you need to do.”

Interop Las Vegas will focus heavily on services for branch offices, because companies are demanding better control over and access to information throughout networks spanning many decentralized offices. In addition, the unique needs of small and midsize businesses (SMB) defined by Heymann as companies with 10 to 500 employees —will be examined by Interop this year.

“There’s a lot of innovation and a lot of attention toward [SMBs],” Heymann says. “It’s always been important, but certainly vendors are placing a lot more attention on it. People will come to realize that you can’t downsize the enterprise gear strategies, that you have to take a different approach for the SMB audience, which means a little easier to manage, reduce some of the complexity and maintain most of the functionality.”

Here's a complete schedule of Interop sessions:

Sunday and Monday, May 20-21

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm, both days

Data Center Summit

In 16 sessions over two days, this summit will examine why the data center is “the frontier of IT innovation” and reveal the new developments transforming the way IT delivers services to users. The summit, chaired by Andreas Antonopoulos and Johna Till Johnson of Nemertes Research, will examine topics including compliance, security, the role of the network, environmentally friendly practices, power and cooling, and the rapidly growing cost of enterprise data centers.

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., both days

CSO Boot Camp

Chief information security officers and other employees responsible for data security and privacy can attend this two-day session to learn how to implement a proactive, structured and business-focused approach to information security. Led by John Pironti, chief information risk strategist for Getronics, the boot camp will tackle case studies in information security management; measuring job performance; managing vendors; compliance and regulation; threats and vulnerabilities; training; managing politics, people and finance; the security of application development; and treating the information security organization as a business.

2007 iLabs hits on NAC and voice over Wi-Fi

Location: Show floor, Booth 122

Time: All show-floor hours

ILabs, the experimental subnet of the Interop show network, is built by engineers who volunteer to gain a deeper understanding of cutting-edge technology. Attendees have access to the engineers, as well as to the hands-on demonstrations detailing their findings.

This year, engineers focused on two initiatives. The first team — which includes Network World Lab Alliance partner Joel Snyder — delves deep into NAC, and the second — which includes Lab Alliance member David Newman — tests the intersection of wireless LANs (WLAN) and VoIP. The NAC subnet explores some access-control frameworks under development; provides a status report on time to market and the feasibility of live deployment, and helps dispel some NAC marketing myths. The second team shows how WLAN gear can scale to the levels necessary to support voice traffic, attempts to penetrate wireless voice streams, and examines the ability of WLAN and VoIP products to encrypt traffic.

Tuesday, May 22

Pick of the Day

9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Keynote: John Chambers, president and CEO, Cisco

If past years are any indication, the leader of Cisco once again will tell Interop showgoers about the challenges facing enterprise networks and how IT can solve them, and will tout the latest and greatest Cisco products. Chambers’ keynote usually features a demo of a new product or technology concept.

10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Wi-Fi: The Revolution Continues

IT organizations that support Wi-Fi need to know about the latest advancements in the technology; this session is where they can learn about 802.11n and many other performance and management improvements set to appear in Wi-Fi products. The new 802.11n draft specification uses signal processing and smart-antenna techniques to transmit multiple data streams through multiple antennas, doubling range and improving performance fivefold.

Join moderator Greg Ennis, technical director of the Wi-Fi Alliance, as he leads a panel discussing the key developments in 802.11 and Wi-Fi, talks about upgrade strategies, and provides practical advice and guidance for enterprises. The panel includes Bryan Pelhman of Cisco, Dorothy Stanley of Aruba Networks, Geri Mitchell-Brown of SpectraLink, Mark Grodzinsky of Intel and Prabodh Varshney of Nokia.

10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Web Conferencing: Strategies for Success

Web conferencing is transforming the way employees communicate, and IT executives increasingly are deploying the technology enterprisewide. Moderator Melanie Turek, principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, will discuss how executives can deploy Web conferencing successfully and cost effectively. She’ll tackle key trends in the Web conferencing market, including the hosted model vs. the on-premise model; integration with other collaboration applications; and the need for process-driven solutions that help businesses solve problems.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Optimizing the Network for Branch Efficiency

Learn about the options for delivering application performance efficiently to branch offices in this session moderated by Robin Gareiss of Nemertes Research. The topic is a vital one because most organizations centralize applications and data in their data centers, even though many or most employees work away from headquarters. The panel, including Mark Weiner of Cisco's data center group and Mike Banic, senior director of product management for Juniper Networks, will evaluate tools for application acceleration, bandwidth optimization, latency reduction and route optimization.

12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Testing WAN Optimization Products: What traffic mix should you bet on?

David Newman, founder of Network Test, will examine appliances that use TCP and Common Internet File System tricks to improve Windows application performance across WAN links. Based on tests he conducted for Network World, Newman will discuss whether these mechanisms work, and detail how to design and run meaningful tests for your own environment.

1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Keynotes: Thomas Noonan, general manager of IBM Internet Security Systems, and Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee

What do IBM and McAfee want you to know about security? Find out in these separate keynotes, in which officials from two of the most prominent vendors will share their insights.

2:15 P.M. to 3:15 p.m.

Making the (New) Switch

Enterprises are in the middle of a challenging Ethernet-switch upgrade cycle because of the convergence of VoIP and WLAN technology with more traditional data applications. Seamus Crehan, senior director of Dell’Oro Group, leads this discussion about the most important features of a convergence-ready Ethernet switch and examines the issues around whether companies should choose one vendor to supply IP telephony, WLAN, security, switches and routers; or combine best-of-breed suppliers in each area.

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

What’s Next? Emerging Trends in Information Security

Even before the massive TJX data breach, information security was a top priority for IT executives, who must choose from a number of products on the market that protect against constantly evolving threats. A panel moderated by John Pironti, chief information risk strategist for Getronics, will help you evaluate new concepts and technologies, such as security event management, compliance monitoring, network behavior analysis, network access control and others.

Wednesday, May 23

Pick of the Day

10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Assessing New Demands for Network Disaster Recovery

In this panel moderated by Jon Oltsik, senior analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group, IT managers will learn how to recover from disasters befalling today’s application-rich global networks. Most large organizations have set such metrics as Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives, but these may not be sufficient with today’s mix of IP telephony, distributed network storage, global WAN infrastructures and potpourri of networking technologies.

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Keynotes: Mike Zafirovski, president and CEO of Nortel, and Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business

Showgoers will have a chance to tap into the expertise of Zafirovski, who since November 2005 has led Nortel in building new technologies to bring personalization, security and mobility to communications. In another keynote during the same time slot, attendees will hear from Muglia, who is responsible for developing and marketing Microsoft’s infrastructure and developer software.

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Sourcing Strategies

Most organizations, large or small, outsource some of their functions and plan to increase the amount of money they spend on third-party services over the next two years. This session will examine the benefits IT and network staffs receive from third-party services, the cost of outsourcing services vs. keeping them in-house, and making a good match between service providers and specific company needs. Johna Till Johnson, president and senior founding partner of Nemertes Research, moderates this discussion.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Keynote: Louis D’Ambrosio, chairman and CEO of Avaya

Do you want to know what’s happening with a global vendor of business communications technology? Check out this keynote by D’Ambrosio, who spent 16 years with IBM and now leads Avaya and its IP telephony and unified communications line of products.

2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

To Protect and to Serve

Data protection is the hottest marketing term when it comes to storage, but this panel will try to separate the hype from the real value vendors can provide in backup, disaster recovery, encryption and compliance. Moderator Terry Sweeney, editor-in-chief of Light Reading's Byte and Switch, will look at the role managed services play in data storage, the storage technologies that are most useful in building a data protection arsenal, and the issues surrounding encryption based on applications, user groups and content types.

3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Unified Communications: What’s Available Now

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