Convention Recap: Interop 2016


I'm flying home after another incredible Interop experience. It’s the perfect time to capture the conversations, ideas, and feelings I experienced this week in the desert, before they fade like the tan lines I got while waiting ten minutes outside for an Uber.

100Gbps (The summary)

If money was no object, I would honestly say that this should be on our MUST ATTEND list every year. Even as a conference newbie who probably missed a ton of opportunities along the way, Interop generated an incredibly diverse set of interactions, stories, and ideas.

Even if money is an object (which happens to be true for most people and organizations), I would still say that making Interop a priority would reap rewards that totally justify the expense.

While vendors are certainly present at Interop, the overall tone is refreshingly agnostic compared to events like Cisco Live, Microsoft Ignite, and VMworld. That means sessions are more focused on the real shortcomings of products and solutions, which allows for conversations about work-arounds, alternatives, and comprehensive solutions.

It's not hard to guess what the big stories were at the show this year: cloud, security, and SDN all had places in the sun. More surprising was the level to which the DevOps narrative bled into conversations that were once considered pure networking.

Fat Pipe (The details)

  1. One example of that DevOps/NetOps transition was a talk by Jason Edelman about using Ansible to perform configuration backups on legacy (meaning SSH-connected, command-line driven) network devices. While it might sound strange to the THWACKâ community, familiar as we are with tools like NCM, it represents an extension of existing skills and technology to teams that are used to using Ansible to deploy and manage cloud- and hybrid-cloud based environments.

  1. There were also a few deep-dive sessions on building and leveraging coding skills, such as Pythonä for network outcomes, mostly in relationship to SDN, NVF, and the like.

This, in turn, led to an ongoing dialogue between speakers and attendees in several sessions on the best ways for network professionals to identify, acquire, and develop new skills that will allow them to make the leap to the new age of networking.

All of this built up to a narrative that was best championed during Martin Casados’ keynote. In one of the best comparisons I've heard to date, Casados compared the current movement from traditional data centers, networking, server, and storage to the evolution from in-car navigation systems to running Waze on your phone.

He pointed out that every layer of the data center that once featured specialized hardware-based solutions are now completely contained at the software layer.

This overall shift is leading to the "rise of the developer,” as Casados put it. This means no silo will be safe from hardware being optimized by a software solution. It also means developers will have more influence over choosing operational frameworks, i.e., the solutions that run the business.

  1. Developers, Casados pointed out, care little for Gartnerâ, or vendor-specific certifications that tie IT pros to specific solutions, or sales relationships, or the vagaries of bureaucratic procurement cycles.

The result is that this shift in software-as-infrastructure has the potential to disrupt everything we used to know about the business of IT. 

Packet Footer (Summary)

Were you at InterOp and saw/heard/discussed something I missed? Do you have a different take than mine? Do you want to hear more on a specific topic? Let me know in the comments below!

All of this and more (I haven't even gotten into the discussions about IoT, SDN, or IPv6 that I was able to participate in), made this one of the best conferences I have attended in a very long time.

It got me even more excited for conferences to come. Next up is CiscoLive in Las Vegas, July 10-14. I hope to see you there!

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