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Interop Previews the Future of Networking

The annual Interop Las Vegas conference kicks off this week, showcasing the latest and greatest in networking technologies.

Vendors big and small will fill the exhibit hall and the keynote stage to discuss what they're doing to move networking forward. According to Interop General Manager, Lenny Heyman, this year Interop is loaded up on the cloud.

"The big 'C' cloud talk is everywhere," Heyman told InternetNews.com. "What's interesting about topics at Interop is they give us a barometer or a measurement of what is going on."

Heyman added that Interop serves as a reality check of where the market is headed. Part of that reality check comes by way of the keynote presentations that are the highlights of Interop.

This year, Dave Donatelli, Executive VP and General Manager, Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking at HP is set to take the stage to detail HP's new architecture for the cloud.

Donatelli is followed by Mark Templeton, President and CEO, Citrix Systems. Citrix is also no stranger to the cloud or the underlying virtualization market thanks to its stewardship of the open source Xen hypervisor.

HP's rival in the networking space, Cisco Systems is also putting up a pair of keynotes, including one from Rebecca J. Jacoby, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Cisco Systems. Brett Galloway, Senior Vice President, Cisco is scheduled to give a keynote as well.

When it comes to the cloud as it is manifested in private data center deployments, vendors sometime use the term 'fabric' to help brand their architectural vision. One such vendor is Juniper Networks with their recent Qfabric launch. At Interop the architect of Qfabric, David Yen, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Fabric and Switching Business Group (FSG) at Juniper will be keynoting, detailing his vision for fabric and the cloud.

Rounding out the list of vendor keynotes is Steve Bandrowczak, VP and General Manager, Avaya Data Solutions, Kirk Skaugen, Vice President and General Manager, Data Center Group, Intel Corporation, Zane Adam, General Manager of Azure and Middleware, Microsoft Corporation and Scott Hopkins, General Manager, IBM Global Technology Services. IBM, Avaya, HP and Intel all have their own respective architectures and products for the cloud enabled data center.

While the cloud is all the rage this year, fundamentally the cloud is an evolution of Internet enabled infrastructure. When Vinton Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google helped to invent the Internet, the cloud was not a topic of discussion. At Interop, Cerf is scheduled to deliver a keynote, where the Internet luminary will give his views on what's wrong and what's right with Internet today and where it should be going.

The cloud and the data center technologies behind it, is also a new battleground for networking standards. One such area is in Data Center Bridging standards for multi-path Ethernet networks. Networking giant Cisco uses its own FabricPath technology which is based on the emerging TRILL standard. Cisco will be on a panel including HP, Avaya and Brocade in discussion around standards and what the best approach is to create a lossless, low-latency converged network.

Another key emerging technology standard that will be showcased at Interop is OpenFlow. OpenFlow is a technology backed by multiple vendors and there will be an OpenFlow lab as part of the Interop NOC.

"OpenFlow is a set of technologies that will help create efficiencies within data center networking," Heyman said. "OpenFlow has not been a huge story, but it is an important one and it's an indication of the role that we can play in terms of bringing emerging technologies in front of a mass audience."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.