Goodbye Interop New York, Bring Back the Real Interop Show

InteropInterop New York wrapped up 2 weeks ago at the Javits Center. I’ve always found Javits to be an odd location for the Fall Interop show given the relative size of the event compared to the capacity of the venue. Even with a well-attended event, the enormity of the Javits Center sucks much of the energy out of Interop and makes it feel lackluster. Because of this, I wasn’t surprised to hear that this was the last year for Interop New York and the spring show will be the only US-based Interop in 2015.

I’ve actually had some concerns about the relevancy of the Spring Interop show as more and more people tell me that the show seems more like vendors just scoping out other vendors rather than network professionals coming to learn things that can help them run their organizations better. One of the challenges Interop has had is that the show itself has no unifying theme. Instead, there are several networking related “tracks” creating several events within a single event. At Interop New York, there were 8 tracks: Applications, Business of IT, Cloud Connect Summit, Collaboration, Infrastructure, Mobility, Risk Management, and Security and Software-Defined Networking.

I do have a suggestion though that can give Interop a big kick, bring back the mojo, and make it one of the premier IT shows: bring “Interop” back to Interop. Back in the day, when the event was known as Networld+Interop, the value of the show was that it was the only place to go for interoperability testing. At one time, there were huge interoperability issues in the world of networking. There were probably a dozen or so LAN protocols both at layer 2 and layer 3. WANs were evolving and network managers had to go somewhere to understand how all of the emerging technology could actually interoperate. But then something happened: the industry standardized on IP and Ethernet, and it killed off the need for a large-scale interoperability show.

Not so today though. There has been more innovation in networking in the past five years than maybe the previous 20 years prior, leading to interoperability issues that leave buyers scratching their heads as how to proceed. Interop could even keep the tracks in place and look at the interoperability challenges within each sub-conference. For example:

  • Software-defined networking: This is a no-brainer, but there are interoperability concerns around the various implementations of CloudStack, OpenStack, OpenFlow, OpenDaylight and other protocols and standards.
  • Applications: API integration between SDNs and the application layer (northbound APIs). Additionally, it seems every MDM vendor has a set of mobile application widgets that are probably proprietary in nature today.
  • Cloud Computing: Converged infrastructure interoperability, cloud to cloud connectivity, private cloud – public cloud data migration.
  • Collaboration: SIP interoperability, WebRTC, and HTML5 are all hot interoperability topics today. Also, general video interoperability has been an issue for years and something that needs to be resolved for video to become ubiquitous. UC vendor interoperability is a huge concern for customers, and deploying a multi-vendor solution is next to impossible.
  • Mobility: Mobile management, WiFi standards evolution, and wired evolution to support WiFi and WiFi analytics. Additionally, this is where 4G roaming and VoLTE issues could be discussed.
  • Infrastructure: Hybrid WAN evolution, path selection, FCoE, and Internet of Things.
  • Security: The world of security is shifting to an analytic, predicative industry. The ability for vendors to share information, without risk of compromising the integrity of the data could create another “rising tide” for the whole security industry.

IT is shifting to a network-centric model and that’s driven the need for network change. There are plenty of solutions available today, but customers are confused as to which may work best in their current environments. Interop should take a leadership position and once again become the place to go for interoperability issues around the network.

Image credit: bugeater (flickr) / CC-BY