The Las Vegas Interop conference has long been an important part of the enterprise networking landscape, and 2014 is no exception. The 2014 Interop event runs from March 31st to April 4th and reflects the current state of the IT industry.
When Interop first came onto the conference scene, it was just about networking. That's no longer the case. Interop General Manager Jennifer Jessup told Enterprise Networking Planet that networking and IT infrastructure are the roots of Interop, but the modern conference is follows the modern IT technology trends.
"To be a networking architect today, you also have to consider applications, cloud and security," Jessup said. "It's no longer about just looking at the network."
Jessup said that 10 or 15 years ago, the main issue for a network architect might well have just been the network and making sure data packets are routed where they need to go. In 2014, Jessup said that network demands are more complicated then ever before.
"Networking professionals today need to be much more well-rounded, so that's where Interop is going," Jessup said. "We're looking at security, cloud, collaboration and everything that touches the network."
That said, Jessup stressed that there is still a core networking track at the foundation of Interop. Software Defined Networking (SDN) is once again a popular track for discussion as networking professionals seek to learn how to benefit from the new networking paradigm.
Among the biggest highlights at any given Interop conference is the stellar lineup of keynote speakers. Rather than just being drawn from a vendor pool that will simply stand on stage to deliver a sales pitch, an Interop keynote is intended to be a different experience.
Jessup said that all the primary keynotes this year are being delivered by C-level executives, and all of them were recruited by Interop based on their experience. Among the keynotes this year is one from Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby, no stranger to the Interop keynote stage. Jacoby previously gave an Interop keynote in 2011. Larry Quinlan, global CIO of consulting firm Deloitte, as well as Symantec COO Stephen Gillett, are also scheduled to deliver keynotes.
"Larry Quinlan, our first keynote speaker, is talking about how to infuse a technology culture throughout an enterprise," Jessup said.
Stephen Gillett, COO of Symantec, will be the last keynote speaker at Interop, giving a talk titled "No Limitations: The Need for IT Professionals in the C-suite and Beyond." How Gillett came to be a keynote speaker is an interesting story. Jessup said that one of the Interop marketing directors used to work with Gillett many years ago, when he was an IT helpdesk professional.
"Gillett's presentation has nothing to do with Symantec. It's purely meant to be inspirational and about IT career development," Jessup said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist