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Smaller Comdex changes with the times

Nov 17, 20034 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsIBMMicrosoft

IBM this week at Comdex is set to unveil services designed to help users more quickly adopt and better maintain Web services across their legacy and distributed applications.

Plus: The latest news from Comdex

“We are going to give real examples of real customers doing real Web services, beyond the stage of experimenting,” says Michael Liebow, IBM vice president of Web services for IBM Global Services. “[Comdex] is a good opportunity to show customers how Web services are going mainstream.”

Once the high-tech world’s most popular trade show with upward of 220,000 attendees and 2,000 vendor exhibitors, this year Comdex organizers expect between 40,000 and 50,000 attendees and about 500 exhibitors. And unlike other years, Comdex will face competition in Las Vegas as Jupitermedia hosts its Computer Digital Expo at a hotel just down the road from the convention center.

Show planners insist they have no problem with the event getting smaller and presenting a more tightly focused IT lineup.

“In 2000, when the market collapsed the rules changed. Comdex isn’t just a technology showcase anymore. We’ve qualified the audience, we’ve narrowed down the show’s focus, and attendees won’t have to sift through as much information to get value from the show,” says Eric Faurot, Comdex’s vice president and general manager.

Show sponsor MediaLive International, formerly Key3Media, has attracted Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Sun’s Scott McNealy as keynote speakers, and will provide networking opportunities for attendees interested in brainstorming with peers on many technology tracks. Comdex sessions also will hone in on wireless and mobilitysecurity, on-demand computing, open source and Linux, the Windows platform, and the digital enterprise.

“In the past, the show has been mostly end users in attendance, and if IT buyers are going to the show, some of the tracks could provide value,” says Michael Karp, a senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates. Karp will host sessions on Comdex’s On-Demand Computing track.

Industry observers expect Sun CEO McNealy to use his keynote address Monday to announce plans to roll out servers based on Advanced Micro Devices’ (AMD) Opteron, which would play an important role in Sun’s efforts to expand its low-cost computing options. Sun wouldn’t comment on the news, but a spokeswoman noted that Sun and AMD are working together to support Solaris and the Java Enterprise System on Opteron.

With the announcement, Sun would become the second major systems vendor, in addition to IBM, to support the Opteron chip, which uses the x86 instruction set with 64-bit extensions so that it can run 32- and 64-bit applications without a performance hit. Itanium, Intel’s 64-bit chip, can run 32-bit applications, but with performance degradation, Intel says.

AMD, meanwhile, is expected to roll out three new Opteron processor models at Comdex. The Opteron 248 for two-way servers and workstations will be available immediately. The Opteron 148, with support for single-processor workstations and servers, and the Opteron 848 for enterprise-class servers, will be available next month.

HP is expected to show a prototype PC designed to evolve the PC from a computing device to a communication and collaboration system. Similar in functionality to the Athens PC shown at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference this year, this prototype is developed by HP and includes features such as a built-in camera for videoconferencing from a desk and integrated telephone.

Netgear is scheduled to debut a switch that delivers power over Ethernet (POE) to devices such as wireless access points, IP phones and security cameras. Geared to small and midsize offices, the box includes 24 10/100M bit/sec powered ports and two unpowered copper Gigabit ports that work with Netgear’s Gigabit Interface Converter modules for fiber connections. The POE capability is compliant with the IEEE 802.3af standard, and the switch provides dynamic routing, switching and quality of service. The Netgear FSM7326P 24+2 costs $1,750 and will be available in December.