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Security, wireless, VoIP, WAN optimization top Interop want lists

Security, wireless, VoIP and WAN optimization were key areas of interest for many attendees of Interop Las Vegas 2007, as two separate surveys found.

Security and wireless technologies were the key areas of interest at last week's Interop Las Vegas 2007 conference, despite what the scantily clad women at nearly every vendor booth would have had you believe.

Just before the conference, Interop staffers polled 480 attendees to find out exactly what information and education they hoped to come away with. Security topped the list, with 60% of attendees choosing it as their first area of interest. Wireless technologies came in a close second, with 58% of attendees noting that they would spend the bulk of their time attending wireless sessions and learning more about the host of wireless products on display.

As for a breakdown of who was at the show, the survey found that 45% of attendees were at their first Interop. Seventy-six percent were there from general business, 18% were representing the technology channel, and 7% were from service providers.

Enterprises also made up the majority of attendees, with 51% of those in attendance representing companies with 500 or more employees, 28% with 25 to 499 employees, and 19% with fewer than 25 employees. Forty-three percent of attendees hold management positions within their companies, 32% are executives, and 25% are staff.

Following behind security and wireless technologies, 52% of attendees said they were interested in management, 49% were interested in enterprise network infrastructure, and 48% were interested in mobility. Rounding out the top 10 areas of interest were VoIP technologies, 47%; collaboration, 46%; data center environments, 45%; network testing and management, 41%; and network and server operating systems, 41%.

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A second Interop survey, conducted during the show by Network Instruments and NetQoS, found that attendee interest was strong in other networking segments as well.

According to that survey -- taken on site and querying 101 network engineers, IT managers and CIOs -- when it comes to monitoring network topologies, 27% are interested in monitoring LANs, 23% in monitoring WANs, 20% in monitoring Gigabit networks, and 17% in wireless networks. Only 6% of respondents were interested in monitoring Fibre Channel networks.

In addition, 68% of respondents have implemented or will implement VoIP in the next year, according to the Network Instruments/NetQoS survey. Those results differ slightly from the Interop survey's findings, which stated that 33% of attendees have VoIP implemented already, 11% are in the process of implementing, 5% will implement in the next six months, and 8% within the next year.

Touching on other hot technologies, the Network Instruments/NetQoS study found that 40% of respondents have implemented or will implement MPLS in the next 12 months, while 39% have no current plans for MPLS.

As with past Interop shows, WAN optimization technologies also continued to have a strong presence, and the Network Instruments/NetQoS study confirmed that it will continue to be a hot topic going forward. Half of those who responded to the survey have added or will add WAN optimization into their networks over the next year, while 32% have no current plans for the popular technology. Thirty-six percent of users surveyed said they were concerned with traffic utilization over the WAN, while 58% called application and network latency the most relevant information when considering WAN optimization tools.

NetQoS vice president of marketing Steve Harriman said: "MPLS, VoIP and WAN optimization present unique challenges for network professionals, but all require an understanding of network and application performance before and after deployment to determine the impact. End-to-end performance monitoring, namely application response time, is the first step to effective network performance management, because it is the best indication of how well the network is delivering applications to the end user. The survey results corroborate this."

The survey indicates that users are looking to WAN optimization to address network and application latency issues. Breaking down the results, the survey found that 24% of those questioned already have WAN optimization deployed, while another 26% are planning to deploy within the year.

On the VoIP side, 46% said they have already implemented, 10% plan to implement in the next six months, and 12% in the next 12 months. Similar results were found with MPLS, with 20% already using it and the same percentage planning to add it within the year.

Charles Thompson, manager of sales engineering for Network Instruments, said the results show that many users will be readying their networks for MPLS and VoIP. In turn, those users will need to rely on analysis solutions to determine what impact the new technologies could have and to help them troubleshoot problems as they arise.

"We've spoken to many network managers … who are implementing MPLS and VoIP on their networks," Thompson said. "Having the right network analysis tools that provide metrics for technologies like MPLS and VoIP [is] critical to any successful deployment. With an enterprise-level analyzer, the network team has a view of both network and application performance to quickly identify and accurately troubleshoot any issue."

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