INTEROP, one of the Premiere annual networking and technology conferences was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas Nevada. The venue facilitates interactions for newcomers and legacy companies to promote their latest products and technological advancements. The conference focus has always evolved along with the technologies and this year was no different. The theme migrated away from traditional software or hardware based offerings to SDN, NFV, InfoSec in the Cloud and Cloud network Automation. There was a special “Cloud Connect” area section highlighting many exhibitors from around the world. Cloud Open Source Vendors were promoted on various billboards throughout the venue as well as the network gear providers that donated equipment for the show’s network.
Speed Vendor Dating
The Speed networking sessions allowed exhibitors to deliver rapid fire elevator pitches to a revolving audience of attendees moving to a new vendor’s representative every 5 minutes. The fixed time frame allows attendees to get the basic preliminary information from multiple vendors in a market vertical before getting too involved in booth demos. This allows one to quickly cover a certain market segment before deciding on which vendor they are most interested in pursuing to do a deeper dive.
Vendor Speed Dating Snapshot
Network Provider Acknowledgement Billboard
White Boarding Sessions
There were several white boarding sessions allowing vendors to explain how their solutions deliver Cloud and SDN services. Throughout the various booths polished pitchmen and magicians vied for the passing parade of attendees attention by delivering short presentations on the latest advancements in networking. Many vendors offered swag or raffled off valuable gifts at completion for those interested enough to stay for the duration. My favorite give away was the padded socks from Cloudpath with the motto “Let us put your feet in the Cloud”.
Grid Storage Anyone
Cisco, HP and several other large entities built behemoth 50x50 booths divided into product offerings manned by expert technical personnel and relative sales associates hawking the wares on display or handing out literature while specific booth personnel toting scanners made sure they got they got that all important badge scan completed.
BIG Booths for Big Vendors
NOC Insight at Interop Theater
Mike Lanski from Infoblox and Robert Nagy of DeepDive Networking held a 45 minute session Wednesday at the “Interop Theater” detailing how the Infoblox solutions controlled the management of the DNS/DHCP connectivity for the show and was monitored by the NOC personnel. The DDI dashboard graphical display utilized by the NOC indicated that over 60% of the attendees were accessing the Internet and Conference Network via an IPv6 connection.
In-depth workshops by SMEs
The various conference and workshops offered focused on SDN, Information Security, building labs, IPv6 and anything cloud related. Conference and workshop breakout sessions provided a varied choice of topics at Interop. There were short 45 minute free ones by the vendors and longer breakouts sessions down the hall from the main show floor (which were specific detailed technology workshops). Ed Horley, a distinguished member of the Infoblox Center of Excellence advisory board, gave an IPv6 workshop about 3.5hrs long, which included a full 60 page workbook for attendees that had paid extra. He talked about DDI and IPv6, along with DHCPv6 and DNS issues and had 60+ people in attendance. The audience was very engaged and Ed has already been invited back to present again next year. Jeff Carroll a long standing member of the IPv6 advocate community also gave a workshop session to over 60 attendees on building an IPv6 lab. Jeff recommended building a full physical lab utilizing the actual hardware planned for your network build if the budget allows for it. But for most he recommended a virtual lab system, which is by far less expensive to build up. You need a virtual platform, possibly multiple network segments (internal and external), a router that has IPv6 capability, client OSs, and for the best learning platform, a real live IPv6 connection to the Internet. This can be the most challenging to obtain. In a follow-up dinner discussion he indicated that hands-on of v6 training and certification is still lagging behind on the v6 readiness task list.
Abundant Swag, Food and Refreshments
Many of the Vendors used the time-honored tradition of priming potential customers with free drinks before closing time each evening. Some gave out tickets or logo wristbands to booth visitors for special event entry to the various restaurants located within the Hotel complex where the burgers were excellent, the hot wings spicy and requiring more beer consumption.
One of the last sessions in the theater was delivered by industry veteran and v6 guru Brandon Ross of Network Utility Force. He gave a 45 minute basic IPv6 talk to a packed house that still seemed eager for more as the show drew to a close.
Interop Las Vegas is that special annual red carpet event where vendors know they need to be seen by all the important Enterprise and Commercial business decision makers, Government Agency heads, senior engineers and network architects roaming the aisles in search of the products leading the way into the future.