I'm co-chair of the Infrastructure track (along with Eric Hanselman of 451 Research), so my list is weighted toward workshops and sessions I'm familiar with, but I also reached outside my own track for events.
The other tracks--Applications & Collaboration, Business of IT, Cloud Computing & Virtualization, Mobility and Risk Management & Security--are chock full of good stuff and well worth your attention. You can get an overview of everything on offer here.
Monday, Sept. 30
1. The workshop "11 Things You Can Do When You Get Back to the Office to Improve Network Performance" is a great first stop. The instructor, Mike Pennacchi, is one of Interop's highest-rated presenters, and for good reason. He provides practical, hands-on instruction for solving real-world network issues.
The three-hour workshop will cover a variety of processes for improving network performance and eliminating problems, including getting rid of unnecessary network traffic, reducing packet loss, isolating intermittent problems and formulating and validating fixes.
2. If security is more to your liking, you can spend a full day sharpening your skills in the workshop "Hands-On Introduction to Common Hacking Tools," taught by security consultants David Rhoades and Steven Pinkham.
The workshop will introduce attendees to the Kali Linux suite of free and open-source security tools, and then turn those tools on virtual targets. The workshop will also discuss both current and emerging attack techniques and tools. Attendees should come away with a strong understanding of how attackers probe and penetrate networks, and how to develop better defenses.
Tuesday, Oct. 1
3. Greg Ferro, of Packet Pushers fame (and a Network Computing blogger), leads the workshop "Building Your Network for the Next 10 Years." Targeted at network engineers and architects, the three-hour workshop will explore the foundations on which the next generation of data centers will be built, including Ethernet fabrics, software-defined networking, network overlays and cloud computing. You can see his own description of the workshop here. As Greg notes, networking is cool again!
4. On Tuesday afternoon, check out Michele Chubirka's workshop "Beware the Firewall, My Son! The Jaws that Bite, the Claws that Catch!" Michele, known as Mrs. Y on Packet Pushers and Twitter (and also a Network Computing contributor), will leap down the rabbit hole of network segmentation and data classification and explain why these things matter. Michele will cover both technical aspects (how to create a data classification scheme and tools to help) and "softer" relationship skills, because IT and security teams will need to involve other branches of the organization to get this right.
Wednesday, Oct. 2
5. The keynote stage is the place to be on Wednesday morning as John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, kicks off the presentations. The networking industry is in a period of incredible upheaval, thanks to software-defined networking and cloud. There's a flood of innovation, new competition and new market forces that promise to upend the status quo, which is why I'm really curious to hear what Mr. Chambers has to say.
Other notable keynotes include the Blackstone Group's CTO William Murphy, who'll speak on the topic "Is IT Irrelevant?" We'll also hear from IBM VP Dr. Angel Diaz and Ciena senior VP and CTO Stephen B. Alexander.
6. Interop's educational sessions begin on Wednesday. There's an amazing menu to choose from. I recommend "Cisco Switch Alternatives" by Ethan Banks, a network engineer, Packet Pusher host and Network Computing blogger. He'll drill into competitive advantages and disadvantages of competing vendors, which will give attendees food for thought as they mull 2014 budgets.
7. You also shouldn't miss the panel discussion "Will SDN Make Me Homeless?" at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The panel will address the changing roles of network and IT professionals as "software-defined everything" and dev ops transform how things get done in the trenches. You can also expect a strong dose of gallows humor from the panelists.
Thursday, Oct. 3
8. Keynotes continue on Thursday, including an SDN panel with speakers from Facebook, Cisco, HP and NEC, hosted by 451 Research's Eric Hanselman. Other keynote highlights include a talk from Verizon Terremark CTO John Considine and a presentation from the chief data officer for the city of Philadelphia.
9. OpenDaylight is a project of the Linux Foundation to build an open-source SDN controller. The session "OpenDaylight: Progress and Participation" will update attendees on OpenDaylight's status, make the case for an open-source controller and invite developer participation.
10. E-discovery is a fascinating subject: It's complicated, expensive and can be high-stakes. It has to be done right, and IT has to be involved. The session "E-Discovery in 2013" will bring IT up to speed on the latest in e-discovery law and offer a framework for managing the costs of discovery exercises.
Friday, Oct. 4
11. IT sometimes has a rocky relationship with the business side of the house. That has to change, and the session "IT Is Your Business, Run It Like One" can help. The session will introduce IT leaders to Technology Business Management, a framework to help you put into practice objectives such as stronger customer relationships, service delivery and financial accountability.
12. SDN and cloud aren't the only major technology changes. The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard aims to deliver incredible performance for WLANs. The panel discussion "Wi-Fi: 802.11ac Reaches for the Top" examines the state of the standard and products, discusses new capabilities and delves into best practices for deployment. If you run a wireless network, you'll want to see this panel.
I've offered some highlights, so now it's your turn. What are you excited about at Interop New York? Use the comments section to share your suggestions.