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Interop notebook: The unusual suspects

Almost lost in the sea of Interop 2005 product and service providers were a few unique exhibitors that hope to send waves of change throughout the industry.

LAS VEGAS -- The exhibit floor at Interop 2005, looking like a game of Atari Maze Craze, brought together 375 product and service providers.

Most were the usual suspects and recognizable vendors such as Cisco Systems Inc., Siemens AG and Juniper Networks Inc. But there were a smattering of others that came to the event hoping to catch a few eyes by being atypical in the Interop environment.

WeatherBug swarms enterprise IT

Chris Sloop, chief technology officer at the Gaithersburg, Md.-based AWS Convergence Technologies Inc. -- also known as WeatherBug -- said the weather information services provider chose to exhibit at the event to tell network engineers one thing: "We're not spyware."

WeatherBug is actually a weather viewing and forecasting application utility that shows current weather conditions and future weather forecasts for specific locales.

Sloop said he wants everyone, including those managing it, to see WeatherBug as helpful rather than hurtful to a network. In fact, he said, the company developed new software to better serve enterprises.

According to Sloop, WeatherBug Enterprise sends out homeland security alerts via SMS and live local weather forecast alerts to engineers in cases where conditions could hinder network performance. Installation of the software can be "pushed" to employee desktops, plus the software is designed to take up less bandwidth than the company's flagship weather alert program.

Hacking into hacker wisdom

As hacking into Cisco's network becomes a teenager's new pastime, one might wonder: "How easy is hacking?"

F-Secure Corp. answered that question as it hosted a live hacking demonstration with attacks ranging from e-commerce hacks and network-based denial-of-service (DoS) attacks to Layer 2 and 3 domain name server (DNS)-spoofing.

For example, the demonstrator performed password log file spying. After one Google search and a few simple key strokes, he had the entire username and password file for a Fla.-based university's e-mail system at his fingertips.

Travis Witteveen, vice president of the Helsinki, Finland-based antivirus vendor F-Secure, said the demonstration wasn't meant to sell products, but to raise awareness about security issues.

D-link gets back to its roots

According to Darek Connole, media relations manager at Fountain Valley, Calif.-based D-Link, the vendor is getting back to its business networking roots after a three-year hiatus.

"D-Link began 18 years ago in enterprise switching -- it's been our bread and butter around the world for years," Connole said. "We're like the Cisco of Asia and Europe."

But, Connole said, the company changed its marketing strategy in North America three years ago to bolster its consumer segment.

Connole said now that the consumer side is strong enough to stand on its own, it is time to split its domestic focus between the consumer and business markets.

Interop to take a bite out of the Big Apple

Winds of change swept through the conference this year as it was renamed Interop from Networld+Interop and relocated from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

In addition, conference owner MediaLive International Inc. announced May 3 that Interop will once again have an East Coast presence with the debut of a second annual event. Interop New York will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Dec. 11-16, 2005. N+I was previously based in Atlanta for several years.

Though official totals won't be in for another month, according to an Interop spokesman, more than 17,500 attended the event this year, up from 16,000 last year. This year's 375 exhibitors also topped 2004's number by about 10%.

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