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Editor in Chief

Outlook good from N+I

May 17, 20043 mins

As the premiere network trade show, NetWorld+Interop is a bellwether of the industry’s health, and judging by those who made the trek to Las Vegas last week, things are looking up.

The show was larger than last year, vendors rolled out a boatload of new products (see our N+I breaking news page), and most suppliers seemed pleased with the quality of attendees and the audience’s upbeat attitude.

The show was abuzz about security, wireless and convergence, which seemed to overshadow the fact that the exhibition filled only a portion of one of the convention center’s great halls, where it used to take up two. There were only three large anchor tenants (Cisco, Extreme Networks and Foundry Networks), but Alcatel, F5 Networks, Intel, Juniper, Polycom and Siemens were among the other vendors that had prominent booths.

Notably missing were the major carriers – only MCI showed up – and the systems/application players; the only companies with a presence of merit were HP and Computer Associates. IBM had a tiny booth, and Sun and Microsoft skipped the event altogether.

That probably made things better for the companies that did exhibit, most of whom seemed pleased to be here. “There is great activity,” said Gordon Stitt, CEO of Extreme. “People here are looking for solutions.”

Dan Simone, co-founder of Trapeze Networks, said he didn’t get the impression that the show was more heavily trafficked than last year, but he thought buyers had a brighter outlook, and he was pleased to see good quality leads coming in.

Kevin Dunlap, a product marketing manager for APC, which sells data center infrastructure, said “the show started slow, but by the end of the first day we had half of our lead target for the whole show.” A vice president of a major West Coast bank was in the APC booth to check out the company’s InfraStruXure product, a rack system with built-in power and cooling for high-density applications.

“This show is a shadow of its former self, but I don’t see shows like this going away,” said Bobby Johnson, CEO of Foundry. “They still serve a need.”

John McHugh, vice president and worldwide general manager of HP’s ProCurve Networking Business, put it this way: “Paying customers are down quite a bit, but that’s because budgets are down. Last year and this year are as much of an aberration as 1999 and 2000 were, but things are beginning to swing back to the center.”