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At Interop New York, it's all about the applications

Once solely a networking show, Interop now focuses on applications and software as much as hardware.

Cloud computing, application acceleration, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GigE) switching and mobile enterprise technology will dominate Interop New York 2008 this week.

Though Interop was once known as "the networking show," the focus of conference tracks and keynotes at Interop New York is shifting toward software and applications used in the network.

"Interop used to be about networking. Now the show has morphed along the lines of the careers of the people who are attending it," said Jim Metzler, vice president of Ashton, Metzler & Associates and lead of the application delivery track at the conference. "Network managers spend more time now worrying about application performance than they do about the network being on."

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In light of that change, at least seven of the 15 conference tracks will focus on network applications or better delivering them, with topics including Software as a Service (SaaS), unified communications (UC), telepresence and video conferencing, enterprise 2.0, application development for smartphones and application delivery, among others.

Executives from four leading equipment manufacturers will speak at Interop New York today, mostly on these topics. IBM's general manager of Lotus Software and WebSphere Bob Picciano will discuss Web 2.0 and enterprise collaboration trends; Cisco Systems' VP of network systems and security solutions Marie Hattar will talk about virtualization and cloud computing; Novell president and CEO Ronald W. Hovsepian will examine managing the combination of software, hardware and customization; and finally Research in Motion's chief technology officer David Yach will discuss the rise of the mobile enterprise.

Interop New York is expected to have over 200 exhibitors -- which is small compared to Interop Las Vegas in the spring. Still, vendors will make their share of announcements this week.

A number of switching announcements are expected. Foundry Networks will unveil a series of one-rack unit switches for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The FastIron Workgroup Switch (FWS) is a line of fixed-configuration GigE access devices. FWS features eight versions of 24 and 48 port switches with either 10/100Mbit/second or 10/100/1000Mbit/second interfaces. Four of the models support Power over Ethernet (PoE) for VoIP and UC applications.

Enterasys Networks unveiled the SecureStack C3 stackable switches for Gigabit and 10 GigE access at the network edge. The switches recognize and prioritize voice, video and data applications, such as IP telephony. The switches support 384 10/100/1000Mbps copper ports with PoE, 192 Gigabit fiber ports and 16 10Gbps connections.

"The new Enterasys 10 Gigabit offerings show the growth of the 10 Gigabit Ethernet market," Current Analysis analyst Steven J. Schuchart said. "Enterasys is delivering greater capacity with embedded policy-based security and QoS with no sacrifice in performance."

In application performance, both Stampede Technologies and Ipanema Technologies made significant announcements. Stampede announced the Remote Campus Optimizer software designed to optimize efficiency for application traffic between the data center and remote locations while aiming to be cost-effective enough for SMBs. On the other hand, Ipanema's Intelligent Acceleration WAN traffic management technology is aimed at large companies and optimizes business applications, such as SAP, Oracle and file transfers. It also inspects traffic and measures performance.

Since Interop New York is running in conjunction with the Mobile Business Expo 2008, a number of wireless enterprise announcements will be made. Agito Networks stands out among the crowd with its fixed-mobile convergence solution, the RoamAnywhere Mobility Router. The router enables dual enterprise and personal functionality on a single wireless device, secure voice on the wireless LAN and PBX support. The system fuses Wi-Fi, cellular, IP telephony and location information, improving the accessibility of mobile workers.

The Interop New York show will wrap up Friday afternoon.

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