May 14, 2013
I’ve been an analyst now for a little over a decade. Prior to my role as an analyst, though, I held many technical positions, including a long stint as a networking engineer. When I was an engineer, my favorite trade shows were Cisco Networkers and Networld + Interop. The value of Networkers was to get a view into all the new stuff Cisco was coming out with, and N+I was key because if you ran any kind of multi-vendor environment, this was the show where all of the interoperability testing was done.
For those of you reading this who are still youngsters, networking wasn’t always this simple. Today we’ve standardized on IP and Ethernet so there’s no real protocol decisions to make when building a network, but back then there were some raging debates. Was 16 MB Token Ring really better than 10 MB Ethernet? Was FastEthernet a game changer? How well do the various vendors interoperate? How do you get IPX and IP to co-exist on the same network? There were plenty more questions, and there was a real need for a show like N+I. Over the years, though, we wound up with more and more industry and de facto standards and Interop turned into more of a marketing show. The show still has value, but it’s more around seeing new products and meeting with people and less about the technical side of networking.
Networking today is a state of change, however, and that has created the need for Interop to return to its roots and become the place to solve multi-vendor and/or interoperability issues. While the show isn’t going to solve all of the worlds network problems, there are some logical places to start, including the following:
Networking is certainly going through a number of transitions and these transitions bring change. It’s great to see vendors do their own tests, but the industry would be best served to have an independent body manage this process and there’s no better place to demonstrate this than at Interop.
Image credit: JD Hancock (flickr)