RealTime IT News

Interop: A Time to Digest

Reporter's Notebook: Sometimes an Interop show will herald a new technology that represents the entire event. Or sometimes someone will deliver a revolutionary keynote announcing an equally revolutionary approach that will achieve the same effect.

Not this time. This time, the gem came in a panel.

Contrast this with past shows. In May 2006, Cisco CEO John Chambers outlined his "network is the platform" vision. In September 2006 it was time to talk the truth about enterprise IT. This year's Las Vegas Interop was just about more of everything.

But this week's Interop 2007 in New York City, one panelist in one panel summed up this year's message: It's time to digest.

Forrester Research analyst Paul Stamp said that in a panel in reference to security technologies. His statement is valid across the entire IT networking spectrum.

In the past two years enterprises have been exposed to many new and emerging concepts, including virtualization, NAC, WAN acceleration and Metro Ethernet. Then of course there is the almost decade-old promise of fully IP converged networks, that just now are actually truly becoming a reality.

All told it's a large bill of goods for enterprise IT and most still need time to digest it all.

Enterprise adoption does not occur at the pace at which vendors roll out new technologies.

How many of us are actually running fully converged IP networks? How many of us actually run even full GigE networks? Though NAC has been hyped for at least two years, it's certainly not dominant. Virtualization at best is only at 10 percent or so market penetration.

It's time to figure out what's out there, and see what makes sense.

This is no simple task. When it comes to looking at the reason networking exists in the first place -- to connect users to their applications -- Interop attendees were bombarded with an array of choices and approaches.

Do you add more bandwidth? Do you accelerate your existing WAN links? Do you just accelerate specific applications or types of traffic with an Application Front End (AFE)? There are lots of choices, options, technologies and answers. It's certainly not one size fits all.

Then there is the issue of interoperability. With all the new and emerging networking technologies and the applications that run on top of them, it's critical they can all actually communicate with each other.

On the interoperability front -- and, hey, the show is called Interop after all -- Microsoft commanded the stage. Whether by standards or by intellectual property licensing, Microsoft has a plan to make its stuff work with other vendors' stuff.

The message of interoperability is a key message that should not be understated. What's the point of rolling out new technologies to deliver applications if they can't interoperate with what you're already using?

In the final analysis, what enterprises should do is relatively clear: use common sense.

Enterprise IT should not be about technology. It's about the data, what you do with that data and how that data needs to be shared with others.

First figure out what the business needs to do before buying into vendor promises. In other words, chew before you swallow and take time to digest.

Sean Michael Kerner is senior editor of internetnews.com.