The Interop networking trade show is growing bigger by getting broader.
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This week's event in Las Vegas, one of two in the U.S. and five worldwide this year, should draw nearly 20,000 attendees, according to General Manager Lenny Heymann. That's up from 17,500 last year. More companies are showing up, too: more than 475, an increase of about 100 over last year's list, Heymann said.
It wasn't always so rosy for Interop. Launched 22 years ago, the conference once known as Networld+Interop started as a place to prove your data network gear could interoperate with other vendors' products. When the networking party died down after 2000, the show shrunk along with it. Interop's made a comeback because networking is not just healthier than it was a few years ago but also is being woven into other parts of IT, including security, application performance and telephony.
On Wednesday, the program will touch upon one of the hottest topics of the moment -- green technology. Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. will be included in a two-hour panel discussion on changing corporate strategies related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Enterprises are increasingly aware of these issues and a few are starting to take action, according to a report this month by Forrester Research Inc. Concerns about the cost and availability of power are why most are getting interested in the issue, Forrester said.
Another hot topic, Web 2.0, will also be on display at the show. A Web 2.0 pavilion will bring together startups developing applications such as social networking, wikis, blogs and Web video, all of which are possible because of the networks that earlier Interop meetings helped foster. Cisco Systems Inc., the definitive establishment networking vendor, is already investing in this area, which is already driving up demand for fatter pipes and faster network gear.
Security will be a major focus in Las Vegas, Heymann said. One out of five exhibiting companies sells some security products, he said. 3Com Corp., Aventail Corp. and Citrix Systems Inc. are among the companies planning security-related announcements, and Microsoft Corp. will host a partner pavilion on the show floor dedicated to its Network Access Protection technology.
Although organizer CMP Media LLC is expanding Interop overseas, putting on a show in Moscow that is now in its second year and recently announcing a conference in Berlin, the Las Vegas show remains mostly a U.S. affair. As in previous years, less than 10 percent of attendees will be from other countries, Heymann estimated.
Interop continues through Friday.