Interop in Las Vegas: interconnecting everything post‑PC

Reporting from Interop 2015, Las Vegas, where it's all about the connectivity and the massive leaps forward in network capacity and speed, but security concerns are also in the mix.

Reporting from Interop 2015, Las Vegas, where it’s all about the connectivity and the massive leaps forward in network capacity and speed, but security concerns are also in the mix.

The Interop event has been around for more than 25 years and way back Interop was all about getting Mac to talk with PC and PC to talk to mainframes; but now it’s all about the network. And it’s not about what screen you’re typing, tapping or texting on, it’s how we get them all to talk together with a seamless interface, hopefully securely. Tapping away on your tablet, after all, is just as likely to represent a lion’s share of your workload nowadays as a PC, but keeping up with capacity (and securing that capacity) is no trivial task.

From test stations with do-it-yourself fiber optic termination classes for show-goers, to patch panels, which no longer have CAT6 cables but instead flocks of fiber, we’re drowning in data. And this data will need to ooze around us and be displayed seamlessly on any piece of glass you look at. Whether that data was originally generated by Windows, Mac, Android, or web app seems to matter less at this show, and fortunately, how to secure it all seems to be on everyone’s mind.

So the move is to make sense of it all with Big Data, and keep the bits flowing, not allowing security to slow down the expectation of the instantaneous data swarm users want to surround themselves with. I watch ads now about what people will do with wearables that look like watches only because that’s what we’re used to seeing on our wrists, not because that’s what they will do in the near future. In the same way that many of our smartphones do less calling than data juggling these days, but we still refer to them as phones, these “watches” will follow a similar trajectory. And they will need, and generate, plenty of data.

So how do we secure it all? Some companies propose containerizing everything, and then just trying to work on securing the container itself, Docker-style, and we’re not talking khakis. The idea is taken from shipping containers, where no one has to know what’s in it to know that if you stick a big lock on the beefy steel doors, it should arrive just fine and hopefully secure, and also sort of blend into the traffic stream to avoid raising suspicion of its value. Call it hiding in plain sight.

The same is true of the next batch of virtualized things, like even the network itself. Software defined networks seem to be oozing into the mainstream rather like virtualization of the host did, and for similar reasons. In this way, the whole stack of things we interact with can be rapidly re-envisioned, re-deployed, and shut down in lieu of the next trend just as easily.

Our industry is changing. And it’s good to see here at Interop, where it’s now a lot more about the tiny plastic fiber bits all bundled together like a giant digital dreadlock and poking in and out of every cabinet with multiple gigabit interfaces, because you need more than a gigabit nowadays…you mean you don’t have gigabit yet? Now they’re working on rolling 100 gigabit, so get with the times.

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