Fields of Fiber

    Reflections from an Interop Veteran and Alum

    Posted by Bill Miller on May 15, 2015 12:24:28 PM
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    InteropLVBooth_20150428_400w_editWhen I returned to the Fiber Mountain™ offices in Connecticut after exhibiting at Interop Las Vegas 2015, I couldn’t help but think about how much the event has evolved through the years. I have been attending this seminal IT and networking  conference since its inception in 1986 when it was called the TCP/IP Vendor Workshop, focused on interoperability of various TCP/IP program stacks. 

    Two years later was the first commercial Interop event where all vendors were required to connect to the Interop network and truly interoperate with IP. I have attended the US conference fairly regularly since that time, missing only a few. As you may remember, Fiber Mountain officially launched at Interop 2014 in New York. The event has always been a good place to exhibit and meet top networking press and analyst firms, key influencers and potential partners. Prospects and customer meetings are typically scheduled at these events as well.

    The Las Vegas show this year had a little bit of something for every attendee, which seems to have enticed a broader cross-section of attendees and ecosystem partners from the IT industry, specifically CIOs and network managers. The most frequently discussed topics included: 

    • Networking
    • Data center solutions
    • Network security 
    • Cloud 
    • Server and Network virtualization 
    • SDN
    • Network monitoring (this was everywhere!) 
    • Networking chips 
    • Photonics  
    • Open compute/white box
    • Project management software 

    The Las Vegas show typically hosts more than three times as many exhibitors than the New York event, so it wasn’t surprising to see more press and industry analysts at the show as well. What did stick out, however, was the knowledge and interest level these attendees. It seemed like we spent every minute at our booth meeting with or giving demos to tier 1 press and analysts wrapped around curious end users who heard about our “Best of Interop” finalist in the data center category! These interactions were extremely valuable, as we took the opportunity to share our message with interested parties and engage in thought-provoking discussions about the future of data center network architectures and many pain points of today’s data centers.

    The most common question we received was, “What exactly is the Glass Core™ and how does it work?” Our response was to describe what we do as “Delivering software controlled optical switching to the data center with dense fiber, low latency and protocol transparency.” We would go on to describe how we create direct connections between any two ports in the network with programmable light paths (PLPs) over “mountains” of fiber. 

    We also made sure to include information about our solutions, which provide SDN packet grooming at the network edge and can be deployed in the top-of-rack switch, server, virtual switch or newer switching technologies. We also described our mission to solve legacy protocol challenges related to Spanning Tree and MC-LAG (Multichassis Link Aggregation Groups). Glass Core does not need or utilize legacy Spanning Tree protocol band aids but does enhance MC-LAG, thus is far more efficient and simpler as well as providing protocol transparency!

    The keynotes brought a nice mix of speakers addressing overall IT challenges—rather than product announcements—which made them interesting and engaging for attendees. My favorite was Brian Shield, the VP of IT for the Boston Red Sox who talked about how building a world championship baseball team is similar to building a world-class IT team. As a Beantown native myself and a lifelong Red Sox fan, I got a kick out of the baseball angle, but I also felt that his analogy for addressing team building challenges for all executives and managers was spot on. 

    My biggest take away from this year’s event was that Interop and UBM (the media company that hosts the event) are making a concerted effort to bring a mix of networking and data center solutions to CIOs, network managers, systems integrators and anyone involved in creating, upgrading or managing their infrastructure. This more diverse group of solutions was refreshing to see, as it falls in line with our company’s feeling that control of the data center solutions market is gradually moving away from incumbent vendors, toward innovative companies.  In fact, we are already seeing white boxes deployed in data centers with open source software/open compute project as alternatives to the incumbents. 

    And as data centers are learning quickly, Fiber Mountain’s Glass Core is a truly innovative alternative to consider going forward.

    Edit 3/18/16: It's time to think about Interop Las Vegas 2016 already! Use the link below with discount code FIBERMOUNTAIN for a free expo pass or $200 off the price of a conference pass, and be sure to visit us at booth #144!

    Sign up for a FREE Expo Pass or $200 off!  Discount code: FIBERMOUNTAIN

    Topics: Virtualization, Interop