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Virtualization, WLAN and 10 Gigabit Ethernet star at Interop

The maze that is Interop will be replete with product announcements, conference sessions and a whole lot of convergence.

Virtualization, WAN optimization, application acceleration, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GigE) and enterprise Wi-Fi will be dominating themes at Interop 2008 in Las Vegas this week.

The show is a maze of concurrent sessions, speeches and show floor displays. Though technologies and networks have converged, the human brain hasn't, making it impossible for visitors to hit every session or floor display applicable to their business. But there are some highlights.

Among keynote addresses and panels, Cisco and Microsoft executives will sound off on data center restructuring and application delivery, while Citrix and Oracle execs will address service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Enterprise 2.0 applications and how businesses can optimize networks and virtualization for application delivery. On the security front, executives from McAfee and Secure Computing will hit the topic of securing the network and Web 2.0 applications.

Hundreds of product announcements will be made at Interop, but they too will tend to jibe with the show's main theme.

Fibre Channel over 10 Gigabit Ethernet (FCoE) switches are the new black at Interop, with dozens of announcements being made. Blade Network Technologies will demonstrate its new 10 GigE switch, which enables virtualization at the rack instead of the core. Blade's 1U RackSwitch is intended to save power and support FCoE. The company refers to its approach as "Rackonomics" and will go to battle with companies like Cisco that have large core switches. Blade claims its switches are more power-efficient and less expensive to operate than those at the core.

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Foundry Networks will show off its new line of 10 Gigabit switches, the FastIron GS-STK and LS-STK, which will enable Fibre Channel and Ethernet convergence. The company will also display its upgraded FastIron SuperX/SX switch line that supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), providing 25 watts of power to Ethernet-attached devices. PoE enables power-intensive IP devices like point-of-sale terminals and phones.

On the wireless front, a number of companies will be touting their 802.11n enterprise WLAN technologies. Ruckus Wireless will demonstrate SmartMesh technology that uses smart antennas and meshing technologies to deploy enterprise WLAN. Aerohive Networks will show off access points for its controller-free WLAN system. Each access point will have controller functions and will work together to run the overall system.

Aruba Networks is releasing a slew of new products at the show, including new WLAN access points -- AP124 and AP125 -- that can be upgraded to 802.11n. Aruba wants to take WLAN to mobile workers with its Remote Access Point. The software can be loaded onto any Aruba access point, providing secure access to WLANs.

Aruba will also show off an upgrade of its RFProtect Wireless Intrusion Prevention System. The software allows users to define their own attack-detection signatures in addition to the already existing monitoring and intrusion prevention previously available.

In applications, Citrix will debut a new delivery appliance, NetScaler MPX. The product is meant to provide infrastructure virtualization services in addition to application delivery to better utilize the network and avoid congestion in the data center. Crescendo Networks will introduce its new CN 7000 application delivery controller. The platform includes application acceleration in multi-application environments, as well as continual monitoring, reporting and healing of bottlenecks. Along the same lines, Exinda will show its WAN optimization appliance for data centers, also aimed at accelerating applications while optimizing the network.

Security will also play a heavy role at Interop, seeping into almost every conference track. Sessions will address security as it relates to virtualization, IP video and voice, unified communications and WLAN. Other security issues to be addressed will be preventing malware attacks and policy management.

Also notable in the conference tracks is the application delivery session line, part of the networking and services track. Sessions will address what SOA and Enterprise 2.0 phenomena will mean for the network and optimizing enterprise application performance.

A new green IT track at Interop will address energy-efficient and -conserving data centers and IP telephony. An "Energy Camp" will enable vendors and users to strategize about lowering the carbon footprint of IT. Dubbed an "unconference," the event is an informal discussion partially based on an energy wiki where Interop attendees can submit discussion ideas and proposals leading up to the gathering.

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