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What's Hot and What's Not at NYC Interop

By Pam Baker

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Interop, one of the few remaining vendor neutral events left standing, is a massive affair and it’s easy to get lost in the fanfare. If you want to get the most out of this year's New York City show running Oct. 18-22, plan ahead and map out your agenda. To help you choose from the many panels, keynote speakers and showroom displays, here are some tips and highlights.

“Interop isn’t a science fair, it’s a shopping trip,” explained Lenny Heymann, general manager of Interop. And, indeed it is. Interop, if you didn’t know already, is all about interoperability. It’s a show of what works with what. That being the case, this is the time to make a list of technologies you are considering and go test them out.

As far as the general gist of Interp this go around, Heymann said “all roads lead to the cloud.” That’s as fair a description as any, by all accounts. “The naysayers are shrinking” said Heymann who assures everyone that the cloud will overtake us all willing or not.

The conference agenda is pulled right from the headlines:

But Mark Jacobs, consulting systems specialist at Time Customer Service, Time Warner disagrees: “a real no-brainer in my opinion, cost containment with virtualization will be vastly more important than the over-hyped cloud computing push.”

He likes the green computing because it “fits in well with the cost containment desire of any well managed IT environment.” He’ll be doing his homework in preparation for future challenges by looking at data management solutions. “Businesses will scream and lobby against it but there will be very strict data protection laws on the books eventually that will result in civil or even criminal penalties if you lose or expose data.”

Doug Oathout, vice president of Converged Infrastructure at HP, agreed that these topics are of high interest and managing it all will be key to survival. “IT sprawl has both the data center and the business at a breaking point where unnecessary IT resources, power and money are wasted simply bandaging up the problem.”

Oathout is leading a session on converged infrastructure which he says will address this issue.

But if you want a crash course in pure cloud, consider attending the Enterprise Cloud Summit on Monday and Tuesday before the conference. The Enterprise Public Cloud End Users panel on Tuesday, for example, covers some fascinating info on how enterprises are using the cloud for training, QA, and other non-production applications as well as “all manner of bursty applications, from Monte Carlo simulations to genomics to architectural modeling.” The session “Goodbye IaaS-PaaS-SaaS - Hello Enterprise Cloud Architecture” is an indicator that cloud as we know it may already be morphing into something else.

You’ll also want to take an InteropNet tour. InteropNet is the network serving the entire event and it was built by vendors and volunteers to showcase the possibilities in networking. The engineer-led tours are on Wednesday and Thursday only and are a good way to get your head wrapped around the latest avant-garde networking technologies. If you want more of the nitty-gritty details then consider one of the InteropNet sessions taught separately (by engineers from leading companies) over those same two days.

Be sure to catch the session on IPv6: No Longer Optional on Thursday, October 21 conducted by John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the regional Internet registry (RIR) responsible for the technical coordination and management of Internet number resources in the U.S., Canada, and many Caribbean islands. His speech will cover “IPv4 depletion, IPv6 adoption, and the steps all service providers and businesses must take in order to prepare.”

Of course, any conversation about the cloud is sure to circle back to virtualization. Look for Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s keynote on Wednesday, October 20, which is billed as a talk on the “importance of interoperability to cloud computing, how transparency helped solve problems of the past, and how the promise of adaptability can help solve the problems of the future." That’s a mouthful for sure, but given open source is making serious headway in the enterprise space, it’s certainly worth a listen to see what Red Hat has to say about how open source fits into cloud maneuvers.

Attendee, Paul Harbord, Consulting Systems programmer at NBC Universal, “mostly deals with mainframe stuff” but said he dabbles in the Linux/Unix world and “would love to see more on open source.”

It will be doubly interesting if Whitehurst’s speech addresses desktop virtualization specifically, seeing as open source developers keep trying to call every year the year of open source desktops, users routinely give the clunky UIs a thumbs down. In any case, whether you plan to use open source solutions or not, it’s important to know how such public code works in the private enterprise setting, especially in the cloud.

Head to Desktop Virtualization Day on the Monday prior to get the low down on desktop and app virtualization and streaming technologies first and you’ll probably get more out of Whitehurst’s speech.

On the Web 2.0 side, there will be lots of talk on whether or not the enterprise can feasibly go totally wireless. It’s not a moot question. The move from a mobile generation to a connected generation is already taking place and that is bound to rock mobile use in the enterprise world. There are several such discussions but two to see are the "Defining the Ideal Mobile Arsenal" and "The All-Wireless Enterprise: Can Wire Be Replaced?" panels. “There is a lot of interest on the impact of mobile on the virtualized desktop,” agrees Heymann.

A prolific and versatile writer, Pam Baker's published credits include numerous articles in leading publications including, but not limited to: Institutional Investor magazine, CIO.com, NetworkWorld, ComputerWorld, IT World, Linux World, Internet News, E-Commerce Times, LinuxInsider, CIO Today Magazine, NPTech News (nonprofits), MedTech Journal, I Six Sigma magazine, Computer Sweden, NY Times, and Knight-Ridder/McClatchy newspapers. She has also authored several analytical studies on technology and eight books. Baker also wrote and produced an award-winning documentary on paper-making. She is a member of the National Press Club (NPC), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and the Internet Press Guild (IPG).