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Wrapping up Interop

Takeaways from the Interop networking convention in Las Vegas include an impressive new Trusted Computing Group standard called IF-MAP, HP's challenge to Cisco, and a puzzling booth from Barracuda.

My networking guru colleague Bob Laliberte and I wrapped up our week in Vegas at Interop, grabbing the last flight to Manchester, N.H., on Thursday evening. A few final thoughts:

1. First of all, a mea culpa to the hospitable folks running the Interop show. In a previous blog, I said that attendance was down this year. This may be true in relation to the boom day Interops at the Las Vegas Convention Center, but 2008 attendance was actually up from 2007. Additionally, there were 170 new exhibiting companies this year, a 25 percent increase. Pretty impressive results in a recession where major companies like AT&T have imposed bans on employee travel.

2. Vendors I spoke with were crowing about end user traffic and lead generation. Large users need networking equipment, security systems, and help.

3. I am impressed with a new Trusted Computing Group standard called IF-MAP. In simple terms, IF-MAP defines a set of protocols that enable security, networking, and other IT systems to share information about traffic patterns, system status, and overall behavior. By sharing this information, networks should be able to detect and react to security incidents or traffic spikes. Good effort; let's hope that leading networking and security vendors join the party.

4. It was very telling to see HP with a large booth in prime Interop real estate near the show floor entrance. The HP ProCurve networking division has always been the company's best kept secret. Looks like the cat is out of the bag now--HP could be a candidate to challenge Cisco's enterprise dominance in the next few years.

5. I walked by e-mail security vendor Barracuda Networks' booth at RSA and Interop. Each time, Barracuda has a large truck covered with Barracuda ads parked right in the center of its booth. Two things trouble me about this. First of all, since vendors pay for booth space by the square foot, why pay exorbitant fees for a parking space? Wouldn't posters with the same ads be more efficient? Finally, if I owned a company named Barracuda Networks and wanted to use a vehicle to represent my firm, I would use a Plymouth Barracuda (circa 1971 or so) instead of a large van. Maybe it's just me.

The network continues to evolve rapidly, so this is no time to wallow in the economic doldrums. Users continue to buy, vendors continue to sell, and Interop continues to grow.

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.