Interop: ‘Get The House in Order’

Reporter’s Notebook: Earlier this week, I postulated that there wouldn’t be all that much that is new or
surprising at Interop NY.

Little did I know that one of the world’s largest
and most influential networking vendors, Cisco Systems ,
would not be an exhibitor at the show.

Cisco isn’t the only major IT vendor to blow off a major IT show in its space this year.

The biggest question at LinuxWorld in San Francisco this year was Where is Red Hat?

Similarly I heard many show goers ask where the Cisco booth was.

Though Cisco wasn’t on the show floor, there were plenty of Cisco employees
participating this week.

For example, the company participated in a
Network access control (NAC) panel discussion, which was both lively and, dare I
say, “entertaining.”

On a panel about application acceleration, a Cisco employee made sure that his presence was known
(even though he wasn’t on the panel) by identifying himself and telling the
panel (and the audience) about what Cisco is doing in the space.

As for an official answer as to why Cisco was not on the show floor, all I
got from a Cisco PR spokesperson was that the company had “put its eggs” in the Security Standard event
basket earlier in the month.

So what did Cisco miss out on?

Well for one there was a lot of NAC noise, with nearly every session addressing the technology and the vast majority of show exhibitors touting
some form of alleged NAC solution.

As mentioned, Cisco did participate in
the NAC panel, and for me that panel was one of the highlights of the

The gist was that the panel exposed the fact that there isn’t a
standard that is yet accepted by all in the industry. Even better is that
at a time when an IETF industry standard is approved, it won’t be exactly
the same as any one solution currently deployed.

One of Cisco’s fiercest competitors, Juniper Networks ,
took the moral high ground at the show.

In a keynote address that I personally found to be remarkably honest and forthright, Juniper CEO Scott Kriens took direct aim at bogus vendors’ claims that they ultimately only serve to muddle user expectations.

There was no shortage of bogus claims being made on the show floor
and in various sessions. Though Kriens himself didn’t go booth to booth or
session to session to out the bogusness, others took up the challenge.

In a session about MPLS (multi-protocol label
switching), panel moderator Johna Till Johnson, president of Nemertes Research,
responded to a bogus comment made by a panelist asking him to instead
provide a real answer.

She also advised members of the audience to not put up
with “sucky networks” and to insert “sucky network” clauses into their
contracts with providers so they can get out if the network is sub-optimal
(or “sucky” as Johnson called it).

Audience members also took up the charge of assailing vendors on bogus

In the application acceleration session I attended, an audience member
told panelists that none of the their solutions were any better than the
other and they were all equally difficult to install.

In a session on Metro Ethernet, an audience member complained to the AT&T panelist about service level
agreements on existing service and demanded to know why Metro Ethernet
service would be any better.

Even a few panelists got in on the action.

In a network security threat session Joshua Corman, host protection architect at ISS
(Internet Security Systems), accused antivirus vendors of leading
enterprises astray.

His comment, “when it’s a targeted attack, giving a
signature is like giving a vaccine to a corpse,” is one of the standout
quotes for me of the whole show.

So perhaps the Interop show participants did take Juniper’s CEO’s message to

There is still much to be done in the world of networking technologies.

Clearly NAC is high on that list and something that holds great potential
value for enterprises. Perhaps the first item on the list though should be
to get the house in order and separate the fact from the fiction and as
Kriens suggested, “Get Real.”

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