At Interop this week, networking technology will enjoy more popularity than it has in at least five years.
The trade show, which takes place Dec. 12-16 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City, will host over 140 vendors. Industry diversity will be on display, from giants such as Microsoft and CA to lesser knowns such as Zeomi, Center Point, Ala., a maker of keyboards with an extra tab button next to the number pad.
But hot topics such as VoIP, application security, WAN optimization, network monitoring and federation will mark a reversal from past Interops where client-side technology dominated, said Paul Langway, founder of PVP Sales, a solution provider in Ringwood, N.J., who'll be attending the show.
A surge in IP technology and several years of serendipitous network growth within customer networks is at the heart of the change in focus at Interop, Langway said. “It shows a shift in priority—a good one,” he said. “When people started getting laid off in 2000 is was the network guys first, not the systems guys. And what happened was it got to where a lot of companies now don't know what's on their network. Correcting that is opportunity for everyone."
IP and networking are a common thread through many vendor announcements at the show. VoIP vendor Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J., will unveil Avaya VPNremote software at Interop. VPNremote is firmware that can be added to any Avaya IP phone to securely extend all the functionality of a home office exchange to remote workers, said Lawrence Byrd, director of IP telephony and mobility.
"If you can see the Internet, then you can plug the phone in, and the phone becomes the same as an office phone wherever you are," said Byrd.
In addition to secure, local branch exchange-like service for all of Avaya's IP phones, VPNremote also adds short extension dialing, transfer, conferencing and Web-based access to information and corporatewide broadcasts via a screen display. For SMBs, a typical deployment costs about $500 per phone, including the cost of hardware, Byrd said.
Mike Taylor, vice president of technology at Strategic Products and Services (SPS), a VAR and Avaya partner in Cedar Knolls, N.J., said many of his customers who have remote workers have been asking for some type of remote desk client that performs like a branch office phone. For the customers who have been willing to pay for a two or three layer solution involving a separate VPN and IP PBX interface, SPS has been able to fulfill the request. But now, with VPNremote, such a service will be within reach of more customers, he said.
"Sometimes working from the softphone isn't the easiest thing. It makes it cumbersome to do all the wok you need to do. But (VPNremote) is simple," Taylor said.
WAN optimization vendor Coyote Point Systems, San Jose, Calif., plans to launch its new Equalizer Extreme II line of Web application acceleration systems as well as new lineup of modules for the system. Equalizer Extreme II is based on Dell PowerEdge 1850 rack-mountable servers and is more scalable than its predecessor, offering wirespeed Gigabit capabilities, said Bill Kish, CEO and CTO. New optional modules launching at the conference provide application compression, SSL acceleration, bandwidth management, packet filtering and network management capabilities. Pricing ranges from $9,995 to $26,000 for a fully configured system. The bandwidth management module is slated to ship in the first quarter. All other products are available now.
NetDevices is launching its new global channel program, to be headed by Tim Straight, its recently appointed vice president of channel sales. NetDevices this summer launched its first product, the SG-8 Unified Services Gateway, an all-in-one appliance for branch and remote offices that combines networking, VoIP and security capabilities such as VPN, stateful firewall and intrusion detection and prevention.
Through its new program, NetDevices plans to dole out leads to partners, offer its channel pre- and post-sales phone support for products and roll out sales and technical training. In addition sales and marketing materials will be available to partners via the company’s PartnerCenter Web site, and specially priced demo units will be made available to its solution providers.
AirMagnet, Sunnyvale, Calif., will be showing its Laptop Analyzer 6.0 software, which adds support for Centrino notebooks and uses a functionality similar to peer-to-peer that enables centrally located engineers to collaborate remotely with technicians in the field to identify network trouble spots.
AirDefense will unveil new versions of its Enterprise and Personal wireless security software. AirDefense Enterprise 7.0 uses a behavior analysis engine to guard against newer, more sophisticated DOS attacks and wireless exploits that have cropped up since the last update in April. AD Personal 3.0 runs on notebook PCs and prevents malicious connections that can provide a pathway for hackers. Both protect against wireless-specific threats such as Evil Twin, in which identity thieves set up a fake hotspot to harvest data from unsuspecting users, according to Anil Khatod, president and CEO of AirDefense, Alpharetta, Ga.
Seattle-based security vendor Aventail will introduce a solution that enables a distributed workforce to share information in realtime using a Web portal. Aventail Secure Collaboration is a solution that sits behind Aventail's SSL VPN and uses integrated VoIP to power features such as remote help desk, videoconferencing and instant messaging, according to Sarah Daniels, vice president marketing and product management at Aventail.
The videoconferencing feature is especially useful for companies with distributed workforces, according to Tim Hebert, CTO at Atrion, a solution provider in Warwick, RI. Hebert is interested in the Aventail solution because of its videoconferencing capability—a feature that's missing from similar collaboration products from Juniper and Citrix. "We also see video as a way to use technology to put out a more personalized message to our clients," he said.
Aruba Networks will announce upgrades to its wireless LAN infrastructure designed to improve the quality and security of voice over WLAN calls. In addition to new interoperability partnerships with Spectralink, Avaya and Vocera, Aruba has added a packet inspection technology that identifies and prioritizes voice traffic, according to Peter Thornycroft, product manager for Aruba Networks, Sunnyvale, Calif. Additional features include automatic load balancing of incoming calls and the ability for an access point in scan mode to switch to voice mode when a call comes in, he said.
Network-centric products from Portwise, eIQ Networks, Network Instruments and other vendors will be announced at the show.
The reinvigorated emphasis on networking technology that will be on display at Interop is a healthy sign for the industry, an indicator of good things for vendors, VARs and IT professionals, said Richard Ptak, principle at Ptak, Noel & Associates, an industry research and consulting firm in Amherst, N.H.
Ptak said that companies and vendors alike have realized that "the object of the game is for infrastructure to act on behalf of the business and to be able to track and demonstrate the contribution. As long as [the network] is treated as so much plumbing, IT and network staff are expendable and likely candidates for wholesale outsourced services. Once they are identified as being in the middle of the revenue stream as a vital part of the process driving business success, jobs become much more secure," Ptak said.