Strategy Session: The Interop Hangover

With attendence up and conference sessions covering everthing from virtualization to Web 2.0, Interop has morphed from a networking show to an event with industrywide appeal.

June 7, 2007

3 Min Read
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This year's Interop show in Las Vegas made an impression on our editorial staff. From NWC tech editor Steven Hill lighting storage devices on fire, to judging the Best of Interop awards, to filming executive interviews with a number of movers and shakers, to participating in conference sessions, Network Computing editors were all over this show. Since each editor has a specific area of coverage, each found different announcements and technology demonstrations intriguing.

Generally, two things were clear about this year's Interop. First, this is no longer a networking show. With successful exhibitions and conference sessions on topics ranging from virtualization to Web 2.0, this is now a show with industrywide appeal. Second, the mood at the show was palpably positive, with attendance for both vendors and attendees way up.

For my part, two vendor presentations stuck out in my mind. One was impressive due to the complexity and enormity of the problem the vendor was trying to solve, and the other stood out because of its simplicity and its focus on solving a real customer problem.

WebSense--you know, the porn-blocker company--is working very hard to be known for more than just blocking porn. As malware and phishing attacks have overtaken other attacks, such as e-mail-borne viruses, WebSense has put more muscle behind its efforts to block ill-intentioned Web sites. But if you think it's just a matter of watching Web traffic for a few signatures, think again. The bad guys are innovating at an increasingly rapid pace. WebSense combines signatures, anomaly detection and reputation, along with some other common-sense and not-so-obvious metrics, to distinguish acceptable site behavior from malicious behavior. What's shocking is where WebSense has discovered malicious attacks--such sites as the Super Bowl, Microsoft and Google have been infected and have been the source for attacks. Look to see WebSense making more noise about its capabilities in this regard.I was equally impressed with a very simple tool built by WildPackets. As part of its OmniPeek product line, the company offers a utility it calls Omni Virtual Network Service. The problem it solves is a simple one, but one I've not seen addressed by any other vendor. On VMware, virtual machines on the same server can communicate through a virtual switch--no need for internal network traffic to ever hit the physical NIC. But your network-monitoring tools never see this network traffic. Omni Virtual is a lightweight service that runs in a VM. When internal traffic monitoring is required, Omni Virtual sends a copy of all internal traffic to an external server for realtime and forensic analysis.

Offerings like those from WebSense and WildPackets are the sort of cool things you find at a show like Interop. Now it's time for Network Computing to bring these and other new technologies that caught our editors' imaginations into the labs, to see if they're as cool as they appear.

Art Wittmann is editor in chief of Network Computing. Write to him at [email protected].

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