The annual Interop Las Vegas conference has been under way this week, running May 6-10, but some question whether the show is losing steam. Interop's organizers bill the long-running IT expo and conference as the only event to offer an unbiased understanding of all the latest innovations, including cloud computing, virtualization, mobility and data center advances.
Indeed, more than 70 exhibitors are on hand at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, including Adobe Systems, Cisco, LG, Net Optics and Citrix, as well as a majority of lesser known companies hoping to make a name for themselves in the business technology market.
But is Interop living up to its promise this year? Is the event losing its influence? Or is it still as vital as ever thanks to the rapid evolution of new trends like cloud computing and BYOD (bring your own device)?
Still A Draw
We asked Laura DiDio, a principal analyst at Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, for her views on Interop. DiDio has been covering Interop since the early years and offered us some perspectives on the state of this year's convention.
"Interop is still a big draw, although the era when legions of reporters and half of a company's IT staff would take a week off to attend Interop -- or any of the other major trade shows -- is long over," DiDio said.
Still, she said, Interop does provide a terrific venue for networking, seeing the latest new product introductions and attending seminars. She said the fact that it's being held in Las Vegas means it will be a "larger-than-life spectacle and extravaganza," as Vegas conference attendees have come to expect over the years.
Heavy Cloud Focus
With regard to hot topics at this week's Interop show, DiDio pointed to cloud computing, virtualization, mobility and wireless, as well as some interesting gaming products and initiatives. "Not surprisingly," she said, "the conference track is heavily focused on cloud initiatives."
As DiDio sees it, one of the most interesting aspects of this week's spate of panel discussions and seminars is the emphasis on specific cloud applications and vertical markets. This, she said, should help make Interop more relevant for attendees who want to hone in on technology and business areas.
She pointed to one especially informative keynote presentation delivered by a Dell vice president and the VP and director of the Center for BioIntelligence at the Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen. The keynote centered on cancer research in the cloud.
"There's also a panel that highlights how cloud computing is working in the entertainment and animation market segments," DiDio said. "Again, it's extremely useful for corporate and vendor attendees alike to see specific technology use scenarios and the impact on business."
Best of Show Awards
Also on Wednesday, the Best of Interop awards were presented on the show floor.
NEC Corporation was recognized as the grand prize winner for Version 2.0 of its ProgrammableFlow Controller. NEC says the system gives IT managers the flexibility needed to operate secure, multi-tenant networks from a single point of control.
Other 'Best of Interop' winners in the eight different categories include big names like Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco Systems, McAfee, and Citrix Systems, as well as some relative new-comers like Cloudpath Networks, Gnodal, and Panzura.
Cloud Computing & Virtualization
In the 'Cloud Computing & Virtualization' category, Citrix Systems won for its Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, touted as an all-in-one solution for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that enables staffers to work from anywhere, on any device.
Among the 'Collaboration' finalists, Alcatel-Lucent won for its OpenTouch Conversation software that helps enterprises unify communications, while dealing with the challenges of the new 'bring your own device' to work trend.
Data Center & Storage
In the 'Data Center & Storage' category, relative newbie Panzura (founded in 2008) took the prize for its Quicksilver Global Cloud Storage System that facilitates data storage management and distribution in the cloud.
Gnodal, another up-and-comer, founded in 2007, won the 'Networking' category with its new GS-Series Switch, an Ethernet switch with adaptive technology optimized for high-performance data centers.
Cisco took top prize in the 'Performance Optimization' field for its new AppNav Virtualization Technology. AppNev helps IT departments deal with the performance challenges created by BYOD, cloud computing, and virtual desktops.
Management, Monitoring & Testing
In addition to winning the best of show award, NEC Corporation won the category of 'Management, Monitoring & Testing,' again with its NEC ProgrammableFlow Controller 2.0. Its network virtualization technology helps manage flow and optimize network resources, including servers and storage systems.
In the 'Security' category, mainstay McAfee won with its Network Security XC Cluster, a combined hardware/software platform that provides network protection for service providers and data centers, with the ability to handle up to 32 million concurrent connections.
Wireless & Mobility
Last but not least, Cloudpath Networks won the 'Wireless & Mobility' prize for its XpressConnect Enrollment System. The system is designed to automate the on-boarding of a wide array of devices onto school networks and other enterprise Wi-Fi networks where students, contractors, and employees bring their own devices to connect.
In addition to these eight category winners, special recognition was also awarded to V3 Systems for Best Startup. Based in Salt Lake City and founded in 2010, V3 Systems designs virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platforms with a focus on speed and performance.
Congratulations to all the Interop winners. The Las Vegas event concludes May 10, with the next U.S. Interop show scheduled for later this year in New York, October 1-5.