I recently attended INTEROP 2016 in Las Vegas, which celebrated its 30th year (a long-time in the IT industry). What started as an interoperability expo has become the only remaining general IT show that highlights networking, along with infrastructure elements such as cloud and security. This also gives the conference a role in being the one place where you can hear talks about the entire IT stack.
Plain old TCP/IP interoperability is taken for granted, while new challenges of interoperabiity for cloud, IoT, security and networking are emerging.
Making new connections for networks?
A keynote by Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz pointed out the changes. Getting key low-level infrastructure components to talk to each other is now the norm. Now, we're entering a new golden age of infrastructure with elements becoming software-defined, open-source, and driven by the needs of developers.
What are the implications? I believe that if more items are becoming programmable and connected, the role of networking is going to be more important. Just think of dealing with many IoT devices, mixing cloud and on-premises workloads, with access from campus and traditional datacenters.
My INTEROP thoughts also appear in this ESG On Location video:
Many people said networking has become interesting again in 2016 for many reasons:
- Connections for more devices. Without networking, nothing will work. We can lose a few servers, a few disks, but apps generally manage to recover. If branch access to the internet dies, though, you're out of luck. Networks need to be reliable and flexible.
- Connections in the entire stack. Networking binds everything in the IT stack. Networking binds items up and down the app, the system software and the physical infrastructure, across IoT devices, containers, VMs, storage, mobile devices, and access points, to name a few. These core elements also become attack surfaces, so they need to be secured, and we need visibility on how it operates.
- Connections that are smart. Networks need to be programmable, multi-purpose entities that provide intelligence. Networks can't be dumb links that just deliver packets. Cisco calls for the network to be a sensor and an enforcer which is correct. It will take on a new role in being a nervous system for the enterprise, by delivering information and orders.
- Connections for developers. Network engineering and app/developer worlds were traditionally distinct, but with the increasing use of self-provisioned networks with SDN, automated network configuration, and services stitching with NFV, these worlds of traditional network admins and app owners are starting to collaborate. Expect more connections to be fostered between these groups.
We'll look forward to see how shows like Interop evolve over the next few years.
Announcer: The following is an ESG On Location video.
Dan: Hello, this is Dan Conde from ESG. I'm here to give you some thoughts on Interop 2016, and not just about the show but the role it plays in the IT industry and how the role of networking meshes with the rest of the IT industry. This is the 30th Anniversary of Interop which is a really long time in the IT industry. In the beginning Interop played a role in showing interoperability between different devices. Hence, the name INTEROP. Now it has morphed into a show that provides information for practitioners and shows exhibits from companies that are not only in networking but also in storage, software deploying data center and many, many aspects of the IT landscape.
We also had interesting keynotes, like Martine Casado, currently a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, talking about the role of open source, modern IT landscapes, including how the cloud and security impacts everything. And on the show floor we had people, including the Chief Technology Officer, Bruce Davie, describing how NSX plays a role in the data center and in the future and potentially different places as well.
We saw some winners, including Cisco winning two awards in the Nexus Fabric Manager and the next gen firewall, and from the SDN category NSX won the best of show categories. We also saw INTEROP go back to its roots by showing interoperability between a variety of Internet of Things devices at a section on the exhibit floor called INTEROP Net. You see everything from sensors to small devices, all managing to talk to each other though a lot of immersion protocols.
It's great to see INTEROP reach its 30th birthday, being one of the few large independent shows in IT that shows the interdependence of all aspects of IT using networking. And not only celebrating what it has accomplished in the past but also looking at the role network can play in years to come, including cloud and the Internet of Things. And we look forward to many more years of this show.