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Networking World Goes Neon For Interop

Two big visions of networking will collide next week as networking vendors of all stripes and sizes descend on Las Vegas for Interop 2007.

Cisco CEO and Chairman John Chambers offered a prophetic vision of the network as the platform at last year's Interop show in Vegas. The highlight of the New York Interop event in September was Juniper Networks' keynote vision of openness in networking.

Key topics this year will be NAC, 10GbE, VoIP, wireless, network acceleration, network security, remote access and general convergence. Representatives from Microsoft, Cisco and Trusted Computing Group's Trusted Network Connect (TNC), among others, will be on the show floor pronouncing and at the podium pontificating, so expect some big news right from the start.

On Monday there will be a daylong session on NAC, appropriately titled "NAC Day." Network access control approaches, technologies and methodologies have been a primary topic at all networking events over the past two years but there will be even more noise at the show.

The newly announced OpenSEA Alliance, which is a multi-vendor, open source effort to build out an open source 802.1x supplicant will also hold court, as the industry will feel the impact of that group's initial effort. Many consider 802.1x to be the best approach for implementing NAC.

Though Ethernet is considered to be a core technology by most in the networking world, it is still evolving. The evolution of core Ethernet technologies will be showcased this year for the first time with the multi-vendor Ethernet Alliance showing off the latest in new and emerging Ethernet standards, including 10GBASE-LRM (which is a long-range optical technology for 10GbE), 10GBASE-T (a new standard for 10 GbE over standard unshielded cables), Backplane Ethernet and Power over Ethernet.

Remote access, and specifically secured and accelerated remote access, will again be a hot topic, with vendors such as Citrix, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper, Aventail, and many others touting their respective solutions' superiority.

Over the course of the week, though, there may well be a few announcements in the space that will set a few of these vendors apart from the rest of this extremely competitive pack.

The evolution of wireless LAN architectures is also expected to be a hot topic. Startup vendor Aerohive has thrown down the gauntlet a little early with its announcement last week of a new controller-less architecture for mobile-enterprise deployments. Aerohive's competitors will get a chance to confront Aerohive in a panel session at the event, which should be a real buzz.

On the talking-head end of Interop, there are a few big names to look out for.

Cisco's Chambers once again takes the stage for the kickoff keynote. With all the different companies on the security and convergence markets that Cisco has acquired in the past year he sure will have a lot to talk about.

Thomas E. Noonan, general manager of IBM's Internet security systems group, and Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of McAfee, hold the afternoon keynote slot. They will likely discuss news in the security space to be announced from their respective companies.

Mike Zafirovski, president and CEO of Nortel Networks, and Bob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsoft's server and tools business will deliver the final keynotes. Both Nortel and Microsoft are expected to have a lot of news at the show crossing the breadth of the networking marketplace and building on the relationship between the two vendors.

Whether any news out of Las Vegas Interop 2007 is a game-changing shift for networking obviously remains to be seen as the week's events unfold.

But if past events are any indication, what emerges from beneath the neon lights of the Vegas strip will be the talk of networking world for months to come.