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Interop 2006 Show Planner

Apr 24, 200612 mins
Enterprise Applications

Our take on the most important sessions you should be watching for at the show.

Network World isn’t the only network industry thought-leader celebrating its 20th anniversary this year – the Interop conference and expo, happening May 1-4 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas is 20, too.

Networks and Interop have seen plenty of changes in those years: the emergence of Internet and IP, the dot-com rise and fall, the emergence of wireless and the changing global IT security landscape. The show also has evolved since its incarnation as NetWorld+Interop – which was mostly a collection of engineers gathering to make their stuff work together.

The emergence of networks from mundane corporate infrastructure to a key business tool and asset is reflected in changes and additions to the Interop education program and the overall theme of the show this year, Interop executives say.

“Changes in Interop over the years represent the maturing of the role the network plays in businesses,” says Lenny Heymann, Interop general manager.

The breadth of technologies covered in the various Interop tracks – Application Networks, Data Center, Infrastructure & Services, Open Source, Security, Storage, VoIP & Collaboration, Wireless & Mobility – reflect this, as do the business- and strategy-focused workshops such as the CIO Boot Camp.

Emerging technology trends at this spring’s Interop will focus on data center technology and virtualization of storage and servers, says Steve Wylie, director of content for Interop, with a two-day Data Center Summit, hosted by Nemertes Research. Hot topics this year in data centers include consolidation of servers and storage on the hardware side, Asynchronous JavaScript + XML and service-oriented architecture Web services programming with the software angle.

On the other side of that coin, branch-office technologies also will be featured on the show floor, with an InteropLabs setup demonstrating the latest products in branch-office network technology from Cisco, Network Devices and others.

“And of course wireless and mobility have been big for years, in terms of Interop educational focus and technology demonstrations,” Wylie says. This continues this year, but with an extended focus on wireless strategies in terms of business drivers. “Some senior IT people may not want to know how WiMAX works,” down to the protocol radio frequency levels, he says. The Wireless & Mobility conference track has also been expanded, with more speakers and, most importantly, more room for the sessions, Wylie says.

Here’s our take on the most important sessions you should be watching for:

Monday, May 1

Application Performance Day

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Interop attendees using the conference as a vacation from managing their slow, unresponsive networks should sign up for Application Performance Day. This two-track, all-day event will focus on analysis and troubleshooting in one part, and improvement and strategy in the other. The former track will break down the factors that cause applications to slow down, and how to tell whether it’s the application or the network that’s actually the culprit. Leading this track is Mike Pennacchi, executive network analyst at Network Protocol Specialists, who will use a mix of instruction and case studies.

With the problems diagnosed, the improvement and strategy track, led by Peter Sevcik, president of NetForecast, will examine how to deal with the issues that can slow down networked applications. If your organization is sending multiple folks to Interop, it might make sense to send someone to each session and have them compare notes.

Real-time Collaboration Techniques

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The all-day session will go over how videoconferencing, VoIP and instant messaging applications can help a business improve productivity. The meeting will get down to the nitty-gritty of QoS, compression protocols and multicast streaming technologies to make it happen. If you don’t know Session Initiation Protocol from SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions, or what IMAP, H.323 or RTP are all about, learn from Francois Fluckiger, deputy leader at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, where these technologies are being used to deploy real-time collaboration tools. (Don’t worry, there will be no nuclear physics in this session.)

Wireless and Mobile Broadband Networking

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Wireless and mobile are pretty broad concepts, and this day-long workshop covers all the major and developing technologies, from 802.11, 802.15, Bluetooth and personal-area networks, as well as EV-DO, MIMO and wireless mesh. Cellular and 3G are also covered. Wireless expert Craig Mathias, principal of the Farpoint Group consultancy, leads this comprehensive program.

Tuesday, May 2

Running Scared: IPS Vendors and Performance Testing

11:15 a.m. to noon

David Newman, president of Network Test and a member of the Network World Test Alliance, will show the performance of as many as 10 high-end intrusion-prevention system (IPS) devices. However, that represents only a third of applicable products on the market, so what happened to the others? This session will cover the ins and outs of public IPS performance testing, and why it has some vendors running scared.

Keynote: John Chambers, president and CEO, Cisco

9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

As per Interop tradition, showgoers can expect the leader of the largest network company to deliver a state-of-the-network-industry talk and outline the challenges facing corporate IT executives. Of course, the products Cisco has to solve such problems will play prominently, along with the always-entertaining demo.

The Mind of the CSO

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

If you want to think like a chief security officer, or just get inside your company CSO’s head, attend this session, run by Al Kirkpatrick, CSO at First American. The session will explain the experts’ approach to information security, and how to apply high-minded concepts to the workings of your network.

Follow the Money Trail: What Networking Trends Do Investors Believe In?

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

Network executives can’t bury their heads in the minutia of protocols, feeds, speeds and technology. They have to have the long view of industry trends and what technologies to be ready for in the future. This session, hosted by Dell’Oro Group founder and president Tam Dell’Oro, includes some heavyweights of the industry-insider club such as Steve Kamman, networking and data infrastructure analyst for CIBC World Markets; Carl Amdahl, technology partner at Doll Capital Management; and Inder Singh, senior vice president of Prudential Equity Group.

Keynote: Donald Peterson, chairman and CEO, Avaya; and Gordon Stitt, president and CEO, Extreme Networks

1 to 2 p.m.

Consider this the rebuttal to Chambers’ morning talk. Peterson’s and Stitt’s companies represent the alternative to Cisco’s total-solution approach to enterprise LAN switching and VoIP. Expect a discussion on the benefits of open standards, the dangers of vendor lock-in and some light Cisco bashing.

Application Front Ends: Is a Universal Platform for Data Centers a Reality?

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

Find out what all the buzz is about regarding this emerging network technology product category. Application front ends, as they’ve come to be known, sit in front of data center servers and have the task of speeding up Web and traditional client/server application traffic. Vendors of this technology will discuss their approaches, while Carl Stjernfeldt, a partner at Battery Ventures, moderates.

Running IT as a Business

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stop running your IT shop like a sinking ship or a Soviet-era bureaucracy and get entrepreneurial and competitive with your department management. This session will tell IT executives how to transform the perception of the network from a costly burden to a strategic corporate asset. The session covers everything from how to manage vendors, to methods for evaluating new technologies, strategies for getting IT projects funded, and aligning network strategy to meet business goals. James Metzler, vice president of Asthon, Metzler & Associates, leads this all-day workshop.

Wednesday, May 3

Keynote: Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO, Juniper Networks; and Dave Girouard, general manager, Google Enterprise

What could Google and Juniper have up their sleeves? Find out in this keynote session with two executives who have technologies that power the heartbeat of the Internet and World Wide Web, respectively.

10:15 to 11:15 a.m.

Wi-Fi Update: 802.11n and More

If your company uses Wi-Fi, you need to know what 802.11n is and what it does. How will 802.11n interoperate with past standards? Does it really have the speed and security promise that standards-crafters purport? Paul DeBeasi, senior analyst with the Burton Group, dissects wireless technology with speakers from top wireless LAN vendors Xirrus, Colubris Networks, Meru Networks and the Wi-Fi Alliance industry group.

10:15 to 11:15 a.m.

SSL VPN Testing Dissected

Speaker: Joel Snyder, senior partner, OpusOne

Network World recently published the results of Snyder’s groundbreaking SSL VPN testing, in which he examined almost every major SSL VPN product from eight testing points of view. Snyder will break down the published results and delve into the unpublished lessons learned from more than four months of testing these security platforms.

11:15 a.m. to noon

Will Ethernet Win in the Data Center?

Technology battles that involve Ethernet usually don’t favor the other competitors – ATM and token ring. But Ethernet in the data center still faces challenges from InfiniBand, Fibre Channel and proprietary interconnect technologies from vendors such as Myrinet, which offer the ultra-low latency required for clustered systems, or servers using Remote Direct Memory Access technology for virtualization. James Metzler, vice president of Ashton, Metzler & Associates, and vendors in the data center (representing the pros and cons of data center Ethernet) debate the issues.

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

IP Telephony Gotchas

Is your unshielded twisted pair cable high-grade enough to carry voice and data? Is there enough cooling in your wiring closets to accommodate all the power-over-Ethernet and UPS equipment needed to support lights-out VoIP? Is there a chatty protocol on your network that will kill IP voice? Jeff Fried, CTO of VoIP testing equipment maker Empirix, Ken Agress and David Stein from PlanNet Consulting discuss.

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

Thursday, May 4

Roundtable: The Future of Wireless

Is wireless LAN technology growing beyond enterprise IT managers’ ability to manage, secure and control it? This session, moderated by Rajeev Chand, director of research for wireless at Rutberg & Co., will explore these issues, with input from panelists who watch industry trends (Rachna Ahlawat of Gartner), test products (Newman of Network Test) and deploy the technology in the real world (Vaho Rebassoo, CTO of networking at The Boeing Co.).

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

Threat and Vulnerability Analysis – The Concept and a Methodology

This session gives details on the latest techniques for assessing the latest threats and vulnerabilities facing your network. The overview gives insight into why attackers go after certain systems and networks and what types of infrastructures are most at risk. With that established, the discussion will shift to what countermeasures users can take to keep their networks and digital assets safe. Tools, best practices and stories from the field also will be shared in a program led by John Pironti, principal enterprise solutions architect and principal security consultant at Unisys.

10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Keynote: Andrew Monshaw, general manager, storage systems, IBM Systems and Technology Group

Find out what the road map is for IBM’s future in storage from this Big Blue veteran, whose experience at IBM ranges from PCs to mainframes, in domestic markets and Europe. Most recently, he held the CFO position for IBM’s $20 billion Systems and Technology Group.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

What are the Big Developments at the Standards Bodies?

Find out what’s being developed in the IETF, the IEEE, the International Telecommunication Union and other technology standards bodies, when these standards will appear in products, and how the technology will affect enterprise networks and the Internet. John Roese, CIO/CISO of Enterasys Networks and one of the coauthors of the IEEE 802.1X standard, presents this session.

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

PCI, What Is It and What Do I Need To Do About It?

This has nothing to do with PC or server system buses. The Payment Card Industry standard requires organizations that process and store credit card information to meet certain requirements for infrastructure and application security. The discussion is led by a veteran of enterprise security, Andre Gold, director of information security at Continental Airlines.

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

Linux Systems Administration

This all-day workshop will go over how to manage a Linux-based network. Key topics covered include system installation, automation of administrative tasks, configuring software RAID, creating user accounts and how to manage RPM packages. The workshop is taught by Joshua Jensen, Cisco enterprise Linux architect at Cisco Systems, who oversees a large network of Linux clients and servers used by engineers and other employees at the company.

8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Time: InteropLabs is open during show floor hours

Location: Dedicated area of show floor. Booth # 2506

InteropLabs is the experimental portion of the Interop show network where dozens of experienced network engineers test hundreds of commercial and open source products, focusing on how they can work together peacefully on a corporate network. The testing – which is actually staged in early April – culminates in a series of formal demonstrations on the show floor.

The three focal points of this year’s InteropLabs demonstration address the following questions:

  • What happens when previously interoperable VoIP devices go to work in decidedly unfriendly environments, such as through security devices with network address translation (NAT) turned on, or across wireless LAN links? Network World Lab Alliance member David Newman can offer a detailed explanation of why NAT ties and wireless connections need to be accounted for in any future VoIP deployment.

Analyst Roundtable on Wireless

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

Moderator: John Dix, editor in chief, Network World

Speakers: Craig Mathias, principal, Farpoint Group; Francis Rabuck, president, Rabuck Associates; Greg Collins, senior director, Dell’Oro Group; Joel Conover, principal analyst, Current Analysis

Some of the industry’s leading wireless analysts share their views on key developments and how they will affect the enterprise over the next few years. Everything from the state of 802.11 standards – including those focused on performance, QoS and security – to VoIP over wireless LAN, metropolitan-scale Wi-Fi deployments and emerging technologies such as WiMAX Mobile and 3G cellular data services.