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Interop: 40 Gb Ethernet, Super Switches, Clouds, Virtualized Everything

Learn what to expect at Las Vegas Interop. Spoiler: Get ready for the cloud, virtualization and super switches.

The year's Las Vegas enterprise infrastructure confab will feature all the core enterprise networking gear you'd expect from Interop, plus lots in cloud, software-defined networking and more.

To date, most enterprises have done little more than dip a toe into the infrastructure-as-a-service cloud offerings, preferring instead to concentrate their efforts on virtualizing their own data centers. But if they wanted to create their own private clouds, they generally found orchestration software lacking. Interop-goers will see that situation has changed. Open source cloud stacks offer one alternative, while at the other end of the spectrum, VMware and Microsoft are filling in the missing pieces from their own offerings. In between, orchestration software seeks to collect the odd conglomeration of gear that most IT shops have into a resource that can be managed just like public clouds from the likes of AWS and Rackspace. Interop-goers can kick the tires on an increasingly wide array of private and hybrid cloud offerings--it's still early days for this product category, but expect to see many more serious products at this year's show, which takes place May 6 through May 10.

As data center managers bring in their newest crop of servers, they'll likely find them sporting 10-Gbps Ethernet ports right on the motherboard. While that will be a welcome upgrade, it also means top-of-rack switches will need lots of 10 Gig ports, and some 40 Gig ports for backhaul. We expect to see a lot of switches at Interop with just that configuration; you'll also find some higher-density backbone switches--48 ports of 40-Gbps Ethernet won't be out of the question. For those looking to build OpenStack or CloudStack environments, or set up big data processing clusters, new options will abound.

Then there's the stuff that will use all that bandwidth. We expect to see a lot of collaboration systems and video at Interop this year. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology will continue to evolve to meet the needs of high-security environments, and for some bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and mobile applications, as well.

With the rise of virtualization, the tendency to want to re-centralize data centers and applications, one product category that's seeing a lot of innovation is the WAN acceleration market. You'll find that these appliances are now virtualized, managed in packs and respun to even optimize bandwidth to cloud and SaaS providers.

As more and more applications make heavy use of the network, more network managers are taking notice of the software-defined networking (SDN) trend that started and is still best exemplified by the OpenFlow research begun at Stanford and now in the hands of the Open Network Foundation (ONF). You'll find more switches that are compatible with OpenFlow at this year's show, and more options for controllers, too.

You'll also catch wind of some intrigue. While Cisco is a member of the ONF, it's also made rumblings that it might release its own proprietary SDN technology. How will that affect OpenFlow? Las Vegas Interop will be place to find out. Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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