New York -- Another Interop has come and gone. This year's show had a healthy uptick in both attendance and exhibitor presence. Hopefully it means that despite the doom and gloom presented by problems in the subprime housing market, the IT economy is strong.
Following on the heels of Cisco Systems, Siemens has brought enterprise features to the SMB market. The company released its HiPath OpenOffice ME appliance, a Linux-based box that delivers commonly found UC functionality like e-mail, fax, voice-mail, VoIP, Outlook integration (through its own toolbar) and other features in one system. Expect the HiPath OpenOffice ME to be available through Siemens channel partners in Feb. 2008 at a price of $270 per seat (excluding phones). The company also recently launched the HiPath Wireless C20 controller, joining a host of rivals bringing controller-based wireless LAN equipment into the SMB market.
LifeSize launched three new products at Interop: the LifeSize Express, LifeSize Team MP and LifeSize Conference units. LifeSize Express brings high def videoconferencing at a price (MSRP of under $6,000) that even midsize businesses can afford. Team MP provides multipoint HD conferencing for $8,999, while LifeSize Conference brings room-based videoconferencing into LifeSize's product portfolio and is designed to compete with offerings from companies like Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. All of the products bring high-quality, high-def video (30 frames per second at 720P resolution) on a 1 Mbps connection. In the demonstration I was favorably impressed with the video quality of the many connections the company had established to its offices in Austin, Texas. With multi-megabit, high-speed connections based on cable, DSL and even fiber running into an increasing number of homes, high-definition videoconferencing can even be deployed in employee's homes (most likely executives) as well as in businesses.
I spoke briefly with Qumranet, which is building desktop virtualization services based on the KVM virtualization engine. KVM is built into the Linux kernel and essentially turns Linux into a hypervisor for virtualization applications. Because other developers are focused on areas like power management and I/O control, Qumranet believes it can home in more tightly on virtualization itself without worrying about other areas of the hypervisor. The company has also developed SPICE (simple protocol for independent computing environments), which is designed to offer remote access to desktop VMs with better performance compared with technologies like RDP. While the company is relatively unchallenged in the market today, watch for Qumranet to clash with big players like VMWare, XenSource and Microsoft as they turn their sights toward desktop virtualization.
MetaGeek, makers of Wi-Spy, a software-based RF spectrum analysis manufacturer, had its first trade show presence at this year's Interop. Wi-Spy's functionality paled in comparison to that of its main competitor, Cognio, which was purchased by Cisco Systems a few weeks back. However, with the long-term future of Cognio's OEM relationships in doubt, Wi-Spy has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight as companies look to find alternative partners. MetaGeek still has a long way to go to develop feature parity, however, the sense of urgency to further the company's feature roadmap is palpable. Look for enhanced versions of Wi-Spy to include 5GHz support and RF source analysis (determining whether an RF emitter is a microwave oven, 802.11 AP or Bluetooth device) over the next couple of quarters.