• United States
larry chaffin
CEO and Chairman of Pluto Cloud Services

Interop 2011: HP 8200 switch, a sad Startup Alley and too much cloud

May 11, 20114 mins
Cisco SystemsCloud ComputingData Center

The best and worst of my first day at Interop includes HP's new switches, the Riverbed/Akamai announcement and a thumbs up to Cisco for showcasing more products at its booth.

Interop Day 1: Interop started for me with meetings and then the HP Media Event which was very good. The HP executives mentioned the HP Procurve 8200 switch on the show floor. It comes from HP Labs and has an optical backplane. Yes, that is very cool and we will get a video presentation of it in the morning. HP is really working hard to beat Cisco.

But before HP, I visited Start Up Alley, and was very disappointed to find there were only four companies there. I have always supported the startups at Interop, but I didn’t see any that caught my interest this year. Many companies are making product announcements, but I like startups — I like finding a company that has a niche and does it well.  That reminds me. My company has always been a big supporter of Vidyo and their technology. They won Best of Interop Award this year and I extend my congratulations to the company, the award was well deserved.

Vidyo booth 2011 Interop

As most of you know, from my annual Larry Awards, I am not only interested in the technology, but in the booths and presentations. There’s always a few booths that turns me off and it didn’t take me long to find one on my first day: Fusion-IO. The booth had a good display, but the mechanical bull in the middle, it is a bit much. It reminded me of the boxing ring I disliked from last year. While this is Las Vegas, people tend to forget it is about the product.

On the bright side, I sat through the Spirent presentation, and can give it a thumbs up for being both good and informative.

I was also interviewed by two TV stations and a couple of other media outlets, so keep on the look out.

On top of that, I was recruited to participate in a few focus groups for vendors who need to gain more insight into their product, message and marketing. The one thing that stood out so far was how many companies think they need their product to be associated with the word “cloud.” They often have a good product but by trying to make every product tied to the “cloud” they can lose their message to the partners and customer on what they really do, how well they do it and why they are good.

That said, the Riverbed/Akamai announcement was interesting today. Partnering with Akamai for cloud products that Akamai has direct access to is a good match for Riverbed. It is for cloud service what the Virtual Steelhead is to the premises infrastructure. Customers will get faster access to their software-as-a service subscriptions. I’m thinking this could be good for services like Microsoft Office 365 or

But another thing that gets to me is how hard it is to learn about a company from the people staffing the booths at Interop. I stop by many booths and ask one question, “Tell me about your product.” I get so many deer-in-the-headlight looks that I feel bad for them. You have about 20 seconds once someone stops by your booth to get them on the hook. Too many just want to scan your ID rather than taking the direct approach. Introduce yourself…

I have my first chat with Cisco at an Interop on Wednesday and I am looking forward to that. I am glad to see that are showing products this year, and not just PowerPoints.

I will also be going to more presentations, looking to see who has the Best at Interop for my annual Larry Awards. (Check out the 2010 winners.)