Between webcasts, con calls, and Internet chats, you need a pretty good reason to actually get on a plane and go to a meeting. Last week's Interop gave me a lot of great reasons to be in the desert.
The first reason (and this is true for virtually every show I attend) is that it let me spend time with exceptional people. I've been going to Interop for years and it serves as a regular gathering of the network clan; where people get together and share information on what works, what doesn't, and how a combination of executives and users conspire to make life interesting for the IT group.
Another reason is that I can get information from a number of different vendors in a very short period of time. Now, I'm fortunate in that vendors are eager to talk with me all the time, but it's more efficient when I can sit in front of a display with an engineer giving me a test drive of a new product. You'll get the benefit of many of these in coming days, but for now you'll have to trust me -- it was a good thing to do.
Third on the list of things that made the trip worthwhile was the conference itself. There are shows where the conference is an afterthought -- the high-gloss educational padding that makes the accounting department happier about paying for everyone to go see the expo floor. While the Interop expo is very nice, the conference is exceptional.
The conference got started on Monday, and the sessions were still fairly full on Friday, the day after the expo floor closed. You could have read my live-blog coverage of several sessions, but for IT professionals, there's nothing that really compares to being in the session and asking questions. Or better yet, catching the speakers after the session for some long conversations about the specifics of their implementations or problems.
Finally, when I go to Interop, I get a great sense of the big issues and trends in networking. This year there were a number of trends that are going to have a huge impact on networking in the coming year (or years). Here are the big ones:
Software-Defined Networking -- Software-defined networking (SDN) is what happens when the virtualization that has swept computing and storage finally makes its way to the network. Right now, it's complicated from just about every angle, and incomplete in a lot of the implementation details, but it's obvious that this is the direction for networking in the future. Get ready for the switches and management tools that will make SDN work, and be prepared for some architectural discussions that will make your head hurt. It will all be worth it in the end.
The Internet of Things -- OK, so this has been something we've been talking about for a while, but players are now coming together to take this out of the marketing department and put it in the hands of the engineers and programmers. I spent a great deal of my conversation with the director of software for GE talking about the networks being put in place for everything from gas turbines to locomotives. This is coming, and the amount of data collected will make the wave of info from social networking seem like small potatoes. Have you checked the status of your storage budget, lately? You should.
Big-Data -- It might seem odd to talk about big-data at a networking conference, but the fact is that big-data doesn't just sit around -- it moves. And when it moves, the network has to adapt to the load. Building networking for performance and resilience is critical for big-data success, and big-data success is critical for the enterprise.
That was Interop. Valuable, informative, and oh, so last week. This week I'm in Orlando at SAP's Sapphire NOW! -- I wonder what I'm going to know on Friday that I don't know today. I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, let me know what you got out of the last conference you attended. And let me know which conference is next on your list -- maybe E2 will see you there!