Next week, networking professionals from all over the world will converge upon Las Vegas for the annual Interop IT conference and expo. Much like last year, SDN and BYOD will dominate sessions and the exhibit hall, set to showcase over 300 exhibitors this time around. The hands-on OpenFlow InteropNet lab and operations center, seen in 2011 and 2012, will return to the show floor. But this year, there's a difference. Jennifer Jessup, Interop's general manager, told Enterprise Networking Planet that 2013 is the year we'll see SDN get real.
"We've been hearing about SDN for a few years," Jessup said. "Now, what does this mean for real customers, and who's using it? That's where this year's Interop will be different."
How? For one thing, Interop will host a full-day workshop on SDN, featuring speakers from heavyweights like the Open Networking Foundation, Cisco, NEC, Extreme Networks, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and VMware.
SDN keynotes from the major players
Software Defined Networking won't be limited to the session floor or the expo hall, either. This year, SDN makes its way to the big keynote stage. Rob Soderbery, SVP and GM for Cisco's enterprise networking group, will deliver a keynote on next-generation networking. In a nod to the spirit of customer deployment use cases, this keynote will include NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"Cisco's keynote with the NBA player will be pretty exciting," Jessup said. "I'm not going to reveal too much about the A/V, but it's a really cool setup."
Cisco rival Juniper will also take the keynote stage: Bob Muglia, EVP of software, plans to talk about "decoding SDN," expanding upon themes that Juniper has been pushing all year as the vendor strives to define SDN and its opportunities. Muglia is no stranger to the Interop keynote stage. In 2008, while he was at Microsoft, he delivered a keynote about server management technologies.
If you still want more SDN, look out for a keynote panel that will include Rajiv Ramaswami, GM at Broadcom; Rajeev Nagar, group program manager of Windows core networking at Microsoft; and Martin Casado, chief architect for networking at VMware. Casado, who sold his startup, Nicira, to VMware for $1.2 billion in 2012, recently spoke in depth with Enterprise Networking Planet about the origins, present, and potential future of SDN.
On the hardware side of the equation, meanwhile, Frank Frankovsky, VP of hardware design and supply chain at Facebook, will discuss the next steps for the Open Compute Project. Facebook kicked off the Open Compute Project in 2011 as a way to open up hardware designs. The effort now has broad participation and several open specifications, including Open Rack for Server racks, Open Vault for storage, and the Common Slot Specification for compute.
Focus on interoperability
Historically, Interop has focused on demonstrating the interoperability of modern IT network infrastructure. The expo will continue to emphasize that element in a multi-vendor demo of the 802.1aq Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) standard.
Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and HP will demo the interoperability of SPB, another hot topic in recent years at Interop. SPB is seen as a replacement for Spanning Tree Protocol. It is also competitive with TRILL (Transparent Interconnection for Lots of Links) which support by multiple vendors including Cisco.
Interop workshops start on Monday May 6th, with keynotes beginning on Wednesday May 8th. Watch for our coverage of the event.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.