I've been in Las Vegas for the past few days at Interop 2013:
Interop is all about empowering information technology professionals. "IT guys," as they have been calling themselves, are unsung heroes. Rarely do employees notice an implementation of new hardware, but when the network goes down, then all the hate is on IT. And every IT manager I have spoken to says the network goes down at some point. One IT manager said, "Everyone's network has gone down. If any IT managers tell you different, then they are lying."
IT professionals don't like glitzy: they like things that work. Again and again, the newest gadgetry loses to the tried-and-true … unless the newest gadgetry really:
- Works. I mean really works. As in, businesses can depend on it.
- Saves money.
- Increases efficiency.
For example: when the world was first abuzz about cellular devices, IT professionals let out a collective yawn. Could businesses depend on this technology? Would it save money? Increase efficiency? If the answers weren't yes, yes, and yes … then who cares?
The Buzz from Interop
Interop is kind of a funny intersection: IT guys are usually all about tried-and-true methods, but these types of conferences are usually about the newest, most glamorous ideas. There's always a buzz about new products or new ways of doing things, but the IT guys aren't seduced by the flashy Vegas lights.
The buzz from Interop has a slightly different feel this year, though. Here are some of those buzzwords: Cloud, SDN (software-defined networking), cloud management, BYOD, cloud, intelligent networks, mobility, cloud, enterprise solutions … did I mention "cloud"?!?
None of these are really brand new. These are all ideas that have been kicked around before at Interop and elsewhere. Not long ago, however, many elements of these ideas were more theoretical than practical for most businesses. The shift in 2013 is that we're right at the tipping point where glitzy theory becomes concrete. For some of these things, IT just doesn't have a choice anymore (e.g. BYOD is here, and like it or not, IT has to figure out how to protect the network). But some of these technologies are developed now to the point where they can dramatically simplify life for IT. What was perhaps mere buzz a while ago is now a real, powerful solution that makes things easier.
IT and Mobile Technology
IT has significant challenges to face because of cellular technology: both BYOD and business mobility needs create new headaches for IT. However, the most powerful change that the dramatic improvement and rapid spread of cellular networks brings to IT is undeniably positive: businesses can now depend on 4G.
- It works. I mean really works. (Especially with a Cradlepoint router.)
- It saves money. Ethernet + 4G failover means T1 uptime for a fraction of the cost.
- It increases efficiency. Create instant networks just about anywhere without the hassle of Ethernet wires.
It's true: "Everyone's network has gone down." But it's easy to implement a business continuity solution powered by 4G; mobile technology can be more positive than negative for IT professionals who choose to let it work for them. (Perhaps those who don't embrace 4G failover deserve the hate when the network goes down.)
IT and the Cloud
When more and more applications move to the cloud, it places more and more pressure on the uptime of the network, and therefore on IT. The solution? See above. But in the same way that cloud applications can benefit other departments, IT is now able to leverage the power of the cloud for its own solutions.
At Interop this week we announced Cradlepoint NetCloud Manager, a cloud application platform that simplifies IT management:
- It works. (Well, it's still in beta right now, but all indications are incredibly positive.)
- It saves money. Manage multiple Cradlepoint routers – wherever they are – through the cloud.
- It increases efficiency. Real-time updates to all your routers with a few clicks? Yeah, that's efficient.