The 5 Best Things About Interop 2012 in Las Vegas

On my flight home from the Interop IT Expo and Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, I reflected on a great week of activities. I’m not talking about the free massages at the ViaWest booth, that cool orange Spiceworks shirt I never got my hands on, the cool Netscout tote that I got two of, or the great parties at Haze, Eye Candy Lounge, and the Foundation Room. Wait, of course I’m talking about them, because all those things were fun and cool and helped make the event great. But, here’s my more professional Top 5, in no particular order.

Getting Social

Interop debuted its Community Hub among the socially savvy located in the Expo Hall. Aimed at social media types, even the novice tweeter found a ton of valuable info in sessions titled “Building a Global Support Network Using Social Media” and, my favorite, InformationWeek’s “So You Want To Be a Social Influencer.” They even had a space where a video crew could capture your Interop experience. I’ve seen some of those elements used at Cisco Live, but it was nice seeing a tradeshow address the social media needs of its exhibitors and attendees beyond just creating a show #hashtag.

The Main Attraction

Cisco Systems CTO Padmasree Warrior is the main attraction wherever she speaks. Well, except at Cisco Live when her colleagues schedule her opposite William Shatner, John Cleese, and the MythBusters. Sorry, Padma. But at Interop she was the feature presentation. Even with Avaya’s Marc Randall and VMware’s Steve Herrod on the keynote schedule, Padmasree’s only true competition was the cast of Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar 3. More about that later. What I love best about Padmasree’s keynotes are her slides. Her “Cisco Cloud Strategy” slide in particular offered up how Cisco tailors solutions for building clouds, connecting users to the cloud, and assisting customers with deploying cloud services. Her “Evolution of the Network” slide showed how our networks of tomorrow will have to be prepared for unified workspaces, knowledge clouds, and immersive applications. Another slide detailed how in 2010 there were about two connected devices per person. By 2020, that number will skyrocket to 50 billion total or 6.58 devices per human. I’m gonna have to invest in a pair of cargo pants for sure.

The Silver Lining

Looking over the Interop schedule before the conference, the cloud keynote panel didn’t get my attention. It was stuck between the keynote by VMware CTO Steve Herrod on the software-defined data center and the aforementioned Dreamworks preview. So who could blame me for missing it, right? So as I waited for the Dreamworks show to start, Ellen Rubin took the stage. She’s the VP of Cloud Products for Terremark and is a very compelling speaker. “The hybrid cloud is here to stay because customers want to manage applications in both private and public cloud infrastructures,” she said. My ears perked up. When Rackspace CTO John Engates piped in, as did Steve Shalita of NetScout Systems, I was glad I had stumbled upon the discussion. We could all learn a bit more about the ever-changing cloud landscape. According to the cloud panel, transporting data between numerous cloud providers is a concern for businesses transitioning their IT infrastructures. Moving essential applications to the cloud is a bigger one.

Cloud Computing Gets Animated

HP’s collaboration presentation with Dreamworks Animation SKG was impressive. While a lot of cloud discussions focus on solving the problems of scale and virtualization in the data center, HP shed light on cloud computing as a service and connecting users, like say digital artists across the globe, with needed applications. Dreamworks, the filmmakers behind the Shrek franchise, Kung Fu Panda, and Chicken Run, previewed two 3D clips of the upcoming summer blockbuster Madagascar 3 during the keynote. Just imagine a room full of hundreds of tech geeks in 3D glasses watching a cartoon. It looked great on Mandalay Bay’s theater-quality screens. With the help of HP’s cloud and networking technology, Dreamworks can now produce five feature films every two years. Using HP’s SwitchCloud to store and distribute files, Dreamworks has reduced its dependency on local storage and reduced bandwidth issues. With studios in California and Bangalore, India, Dreamworks digital artists can now work on any project, no matter their location. But it’s not easy. Each film has a ton of data associated with it. Making that data accessible at all times has been easier with HP’s help.

He’s Got Game

I love playing Words with Friends by Zynga on Facebook, even on a plane. So when I saw that Zynga’s CTO Allan Leinwand was speaking, I made sure to add that to my Interop to-do list. Despite overly cute slides in Farmville style, Leinwand discussed Zynga’s transformation from a traditional IT infrastructure to a hybrid cloud solution Zynga calls zCloud. With the addition of data centers on both US coasts, Zynga gamers went from playing 80% on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud to 20%. Leinwand explained that Zynga’s decision to go to a hybrid cloud model was simple: more control. Now if I could just find someone to milk my cow in Farmville when I’m on the road.

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