TechWeb

Interop 2010 Show Winners

Apr 28, 2010 (10:04 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=224700001


Category: Cloud Computing

Winner: IBM -- Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud

Judges: John Foley, InformationWeek; Charles Babcock, InformationWeek

The launch of IBM's Development and Test cloud service in the second quarter is a milestone for Big Blue and, in some respects, for the IT industry, as well.

IBM has put an unmistakable enterprise stamp on its new offering, which is called Smart Business Development & Test on the IBM Cloud. Customers that want to tap into IBM's cloud environment have to be approved and sign a contract before they're granted access.

That model will make it difficult for individual developers and entrepreneurs, who are flocking to services such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Google's App Engine, to take advantage of IBM's new service. But what some will perceive as a drawback will appeal to others, in particular enterprise IT departments that are wary of putting their corporate data and code side by side with unvetted third parties. IBM describes its cloud service as having "enterprise-grade" security and control.

That focus on enterprise requirements helps explain the choice of IBM's Development and Test cloud as the Best of Interop winner in the cloud computing category. The service, in beta test since October, becomes commercially available this quarter.

IBM has cloud computing environments and initiatives in its facilities around the world, but Development and Test really represents its first commercial service with a combination of the key attributes that you'd expect from the cloud--multitenancy, self-service, usage-based pricing, and ready-to-use virtualized software images. IBM's Development and Test cloud service is hosted from an IBM data center in Raleigh, North Carolina.

As its name indicates, IBM's service is geared to software development and testing, an area of enterprise IT that's well suited to the cloud model. Corporate software development projects tend to temporary in nature, yet require substantial computing and storage resources when they kick into high gear. IBM says that software development and test projects can consume as much as 30% of a company's IT infrastructure--resources that are often underutilized.

A key component of the service is its use of IBM's Rational tools, which support agile development by teams of programmers from beginning to end, or so-called lifecycle development. Here too, the cloud model makes sense, facilitating collaboration among developers in different time zones and geographies.

-- John Foley





Category: Collaboration

Vidyo -- VidyoDesktop Executive

Judges: Andrew Conry-Murray, InformationWeek; Eric Krapf, NoJitter.com

The airline industry is doing its best to help grow the videoconferencing market. As organizations tally higher ticket prices and charges for carry-ons and meals (not to mention lost productivity from executives stranded due to volcanic eruption), they're moving closer to investing in videoconferencing systems.

Of course, a telepresence system starts at $30,000 today can reach as much as ten times that price once you add high-definition cameras, integrated sound systems and large screens.

Another option is desktop videoconferencing, which can put video communication in the hands of more than just a small team of executives. According to an InformationWeek Analytics survey, 36 percent of respondents already have desktop videoconferencing for some or most employees. Another 25 percent are considering desktop videoconferencing.

Vidyo wins in the collaboration category because it has the potential to make widespread business videoconferencing a reality. The company's VidyoDesktop Executive software runs on ordinary x86 computers and provides a high-quality videoconference experience. The software delivers HD 1080p multipoint videoconferencing. Vidyo uses the H.264 SVC (Scalable Video Coding) standard.

Vidyo is positioning the system as a way to put a video "appliance" on an executive's desk. Just load the software onto a touchscreen-capable laptop or netbook, attach a camera, and your executives can get the face-time with an easy-to-use system. Vidyo says enterprises can also deploy videoconferencing enterprise-wide by enabling all user PCs with videoconferencing capability.

Organizations have the choice of buying the VidyoRouter, Vidyo's compression software, which is necessary to use VidyoDesktop, or signing on with a service provider that hosts a VidyoRouter in the cloud. The VidyoDesktop software costs $25 per user per year. Companies have to provide the video camera and PCs. The software can use the microphone and speakers built into most PCs and laptops, or companies can add a peripheral device, such as a USB headset.

-- Andrew Conry-Murray


Category: Data Center & Storage

Mellanox Technologies -- BridgeX 5020

Judges: Randy George, InformationWeek; Steven Hill, InformationWeek

The three finalists in the data center and storage category all brought extremely impressive and innovative offerings to the table. The evolution of unified computing, virtual I/O and converged Ethernet are clearly the most impactful technologies that have surfaced in the data center in a long time. As a result, it wasn't surprising to see that the finalists in this category either loosely or directly addressed challenges in this area.

The promise of Cisco's OTV (Overlay Transport Virtualization) was substantial. OTV's ability to interconnect geographically distributed data centers at Layer 2 clearly has terrific potential for virtual environments that require quick and seamless disaster recovery.

Our second finalist, Ixia, brought a very impressive and scalable Native Fiber Channel and Fibre Channel over Ethernet testing suite to the table. With its blade design, the Ixia chassis can help analyze, test and assess a wide range of scenarios and solutions for vendors and enterprises.

Our winner was the Mellanox BX5020 InfiniBand gateway. We struggled with the decision tremendously. In the enterprise, InfiniBand isn't generally the transport of choice. However, for applications and systems that demand the most I/O possible, InfiniBand is sometimes the only solution. Part of the reason for choosing Mellanox was the price point and throughput scalability of the BX5020 bridge.

At the HBA level, Mellanox offers 40 Gig of throughput for the same price as a 10-Gig converged Ethernet. For virtualization scenarios with extremely high I/O needs, 10-Gig Ethernet might not cut it, and bridging FCoE to native fiber channel is still a very expensive proposition. Mellanox impressively addresses the issue of cost and performance in the Virtual I/O space, and its solution did a bit more to move unified computing and Virtual I/O forward.

-- Randy George





Category: Infrastructure

Arista Networks -- Arista 7500

Judges: Mike Fratto, Network Computing; Howard Marks, Networks Are Our Lives

Bigger and faster is the hallmark of any data center switch. Typically data center switch architectures comprised half- and full-rack-sized switch chassis that aggregate end-of-row or top-of-rack switches, which might also be aggregated making three hops from server to core. Arista's 7500 radically increases capacity with a 10-Tb backplane in a compact form factor. This switch represents the type of core data center switch you'll be running in a few years: high capacity, low latency, low power draw, and small form factor.

The 7500 packs 384 non-blocking 10-GB ports with 4.5 microseconds of delay into a 11RU chassis. Priced at $140,000, the 7500 is a high-capacity, low-cost switch. The 7500 is DCB ready and can support Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. In addition, each blade comes with 2.4 GB of frame buffer to queue frames in the event of congestion. That's enough buffer space to queue up 50 microseconds of 10-Gb traffic per port. No worries about dropped frames.

The 7500 is a modular switch, so you can add capacity as you need and its uses the same extensible operating system across all of its switching products for simple management. The capacity of the 7500 means you can remove switching tiers that were required to aggregate traffic to a core switch, attach to a single access tier and then move right to the core. If you have the cabling, you can remove the access tier altogether.

Face it, with virtualization, your data center looks less like a server farm and more like an high-performance computing cluster. That requires a switching infrastructure and can move large amounts of data quickly and reliably. The Arista 7500 has the horsepower and that's why it won Best of Interop.

-- Mike Fratto


Category: Network Management, Monitoring & Testing

ExtraHop Networks -- Network Timeout

Judges: Mike Fratto, Network Computing; Howard Marks, Networks Are Our Lives

Extrahop's Network Timeout is a free application analysis tool that takes packet captures and presents application analysis reports that can be used for trouble shooting and application performance management. Unlike packet analysis programs like Wireshark and Wild Packets OmniPeek that excel at packet decoding and low-level troubleshooting, Network Timeout performs application analysis from layer 2 through 7. If you have ever tried to determine why applications are performing poorly with a packet analyzer, you'll understand why Network Timeout won Best of Interop for Network Management, Monitoring and Testing.

Network Timeout presents applications through a series of graphs that break out performance information, such as packets per second, request and response times, and transaction details. It's easy to get lost in Network Timeout's interface at first because of all the analysis that's available. Network Timeout's analysis pulls out alerts such as lost packets, re-transmits, and even failed DNS queries so you can pinpoint failure easily.

The application analysis is equally detailed. HTTP analysis breaks out HTTP queries, the types of elements request and sent. Network Timeout even handles complex protocols like file transfers and can show what files users are accessing.

Analyzed files can be shared with others to that you can team up on troubleshooting and analysis. Extrahop is also trying to build up a community of users who can help interpret the analysis and assist in troubleshooting.

Network Timeout does require full-packet captures, so anything that's uploaded may contain sensitive information like usernames and passwords. If you want to share captures, be sure to scrub them first. There's a 30-MB limit on captures, but that's often enough to pinpoint problems. Network Timeout's excellent analytic capabilities will help anyone tasked with performance management and troubleshooting.

-- Mike Fratto





Category: Performance Optimization

Spirent Communications -- Spirent Avalanche Virtual

Judges: Michael Biddick, Fusion PPT; Jonathan Feldman, InformationWeek

All the buzz today is how much money companies can save by moving their applications into the cloud. While the delivery mechanisms of clouds (public, private and hybrid) and functions (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) vary, most companies are in the process of developing business cases and considering ways that they can move critical components into the cloud.

One area often overlooked is the performance of those applications in the cloud environment. Because of the lack of transparency behind especially public clouds it's often difficult to test performance prior to making the leap into the environment. Many companies simply hope that the performance will be comparable or better than their traditional delivery method. Hope is unfortunately not a strategy.

Spirent Avalanche Virtual solves this problem by providing companies with a way to test the performance of their applications across all of the cloud delivery platforms. Using stateful application traffic through both a physical and virtual infrastructure, Avalanche Virtual can provide critical performance data pre- and post-production move into the cloud.

While monitoring SaaS applications is done with user emulation, PaaS and IaaS can be monitored by placing the Avalanche Virtual appliance within the cloud environment. Providing both client-only and client-server emulation, Avalanche Virtual can help make the decision to move to the cloud, as well as keep the cloud providers in-check, by continually monitoring performance in any possible cloud use case.

As a virtual appliance, Spirent Avalanche can also be deployed quickly in trouble spots to determine where persistent performance issues exist. While other monitoring offerings require costly physical appliances or traditional software packages, they also can't adopt to the current generation of cloud-delivery platforms. Instead of purchasing a number of different tools for different uses, Spirent can be adapted to fit the specific business needs within the cloud.

-- Michael Biddick


Category: Security

TippingPoint -- TippingPoint Virtual Controller (vController)

Judges: Tim Wilson, Dark Reading & Andrew Conry-Murray, InformationWeek

IT people agree--virtualization is one of the most important new developments to hit the data center in many years. Unfortunately, many enterprises have been hesitant to deploy virtualization and cloud technologies primarily because of one primary issue: security.

There have been a number of short-term "fixes" for the virtualization security problem, but the TippingPoint Virtual Controller (vController), in our opinion, is taking the first step toward a more concrete solution. It includes integrated management capabilities that are compatible with VMware, letting the security team see and monitor security in the virtualized environment at a granular level. Working as a next-generation IPS, it includes up-to-the-minute security research from TippingPoint's Digital Vaccine Labs (DVLabs) team and the Zero Day Initiative.

The TippingPoint vController gives organizations the ability to inspect virtual traffic with the traditional purpose-built Intrusion Prevent System appliance. For customers already using the IPS in their traditional networks, this maximizes their investment by being flexible enough to inspect both virtual and traditional network traffic. Further, since traffic is passed through the IPS, it's inspected and filtered with TippingPoint's Digital Vaccine service.

The vController is a key part of TippingPoint's Security Virtualization Framework, which is a broader strategy that will help enterprises enforce security policies in virtualized environments and group virtual machines into "trust zones" that will let them keep sensitive data isolated, even in virtual environments.

The vController itself will give security administrators visibility into virtual environments, enabling them to see how the virtual network is configured and what types of traffic are crossing it. This is the sort of information that today's network and security administrators need in order to locate sensitive data, and see where it's going and who's accessing it.

-- Tim Wilson





Category: Virtualization

Citrix Systems -- XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1

Judges: Joe Hernick, InformationWeek; Mike Healey, Yeoman Technology Group

We recognize Citrix's XenDesktop 4 Feature Pack 1 is a point release. But it rose to the top of the Best of Interop Virtualization candidates thanks to a combination of real-world features, slick deployment options and very broad client support, delivering your favorite Windows desktop to vintage thin terminals, 7-year old PCs, Macs, high-end workstations and iPads.

Citrix has re-tooled its venerable ICA into "HDX," minimizing bandwidth requirements while providing solid multimedia (read YouTube or corporate video training) performance in the delivered desktop space. The product offers competent performance on old hardware while taking advantage of high-end graphics chips if your host has 'em.

And not that Citrix advertises this, but we're pretty sure this is the easiest way to get Flash working on your iPad. "Flexcast" gives IT admins a laundry list of deployment options from the same base builds, simplifying deployment in mixed enterprises for hosted or delivered virtual desktops. Bundled with a XenApp server and other Citrix back-end tools, this is a robust VDI solution.

We also have to give a shout out to Manage Engine. While this version of Application Manager didn't bring home the gold in our virtualization competition, the company's initial foray into virtualization monitoring is on the right track at a price point that will raise a few eyebrows. Manage Engine has a solid track record of traditional systems management tools, offering 80% of the big dog's features at less that 20% of the cost with decent point-in-time reporting, client-side "record and playback" for application sessions and broad support for existing hardware, operating systems, and apps. Now they're hooking into VMware APIs, for less than $2K to manage 25 servers.

That gets our attention, and if you happen to be a small to medium size business operating in the dark troubleshooting application performance issues, it's worth taking a look. We hope Manage Engine sticks to its product road map, provides deeper and broader insight across virtualization vendors, and keeps bargain pricing as a core company value.

-- Joe Hernick


Category: Wireless & Mobility

Cisco Systems -- Aironet 3500 Series Access Point with CleanAir technology

Judges: Mike Brandenburg, InformationWeek; Paul DeBeasi, Gartner

Unlike other network technologies, wireless networks can be negatively affected by the environment around it. WiFi has to share airspace with all kinds of wireless devices like cordless phones, video surveillance systems, even the break room microwave, which aren't designed to play well with others.

Tools available to root out troublemakers are very reactive, requiring administrators to go to the problem area and hope to catch the offender. It's a labor-intensive, cat-and-mouse game to keep today's wireless networks running at top performance.

Cisco's Aironet 3500 Series with CleanAir technology tackles this problem head on and represents the next phase in the evolution of enterprise wireless networks: self-healing, mission-critical WLANs. With a combination of controllers, software and dedicated hardware on the Aironet 3500, Cisco's WLAN offering can monitor, identify and classify sources of wireless interference, determine the threat level to network performance, and, if necessary, dynamically adjust the affected parts of the network around the trouble.

CleanAir also builds a historical view of the airspace, letting administrators locate and remove the source of interference. CleanAir brings enterprises one step closer to the reliability on their wireless networks that they already expect from their wired networks and gives administrators the tools to ensure that reliability.

-- Mike Brandenburg





Category: Best Startup

ExtraHop Networks

Judge: John Foley, InformationWeek

As a relative newcomer to the network management space, ExtraHop Networks gets its foot in the door with a promise of performance and scalability combined with simplicity. That and an innovative new Web service for network and application troubleshooting have earned ExtraHop Networks recognition as the Best of Interop startup company.

ExtraHop's flagship product, the ExtraHop Application Delivery Assurance system, is an appliance that provides auto discovery of network-attached devices, real-time packet processing and archiving of performance metrics. The passive appliance (it doesn't use agents) monitors application performance, detects potential issues and helps with troubleshooting.

At Interop, ExtraHop Networks introduced a free Web-based service called Network Timeout that lets network managers and other IT pros analyze packet captures in an online community. The service, powered by the ExtraHop appliance, provides a crowd-sourced knowledge base for app performance tuning and troubleshooting. Users can share and compare network capture files via the NetworkTimeout.com portal to access forums to get expert feedback from peers. The service supports views into applications, networks, databases and storage systems.

At Interop, ExtraHop Networks also announced a partnership with F5 Networks to jointly market and sell ExtraHop's appliance with F5's Big-IP family of traffic managers and other modules. Based in Seattle, ExtraHop Networks was founded in 2007 by two former F5 architects. ExtraHop Networks is funded by Madrona Venture Group and private investors.

-- John Foley


Category: Green Award

Cyber Switching -- ePower

Judge: Steven Hill, InformationWeek

For years now, Cyber Switching has been all about providing high-quality and controllable power to all sizes of infrastructure applications. Their new line of ePower Power Distribution Units (PDU's) brings a whole new level of granular power control to IT managers by offering independent, color LCD touch-screen reporting capabilities on the PDU itself, in addition to its USB and Ethernet-based remote management capabilities. Also available on the ePower series is new Cyber Breaker technology that lets a customer protect a branch circuit by limiting the use of any open outlets, so that anything non-essential plugged into the PDU won't accidentally trip an entire rack.

What made the ePower product a great choice for our Green Award was that it was designed from the ground up using the latest in power-saving technologies; including low-power microcontrollers, highly efficient latching relays and switching power supplies. All this was done to insure that the PDU itself was operating just as green as the products it was designed to protect. And just as important, the manufacture of the entire ePower line meets or exceeds the RoHS-6 standards for avoidance of hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, PBB and PBDE.

It's this attention to energy efficiency and environmental impact in design, construction and operation that identifies Cyber Switching as a company truly dedicated to green technology, and we're delighted to present them with the Green Award for 2010.

-- Steven Hill





Best of Interop

Arista Networks -- Arista 7500

Bigger and faster is the hallmark of any data center switch. Typically data center switch architectures comprised half- and full-rack-sized switch chassis that aggregate end-of-row or top-of-rack switches, which might also be aggregated making three hops from server to core. Arista's 7500 radically increases capacity with a 10-Tb backplane in a compact form factor. This switch represents the type of core data center switch you'll be running in a few years: high capacity, low latency, low power draw and small form factor.

The 7500 packs 384 non-blocking 10-GB ports with 4.5 microseconds of delay into a 11RU chassis. Priced at $140,000, it's a high-capacity, low-cost switch. The 7500 is DCB ready so and can support Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. In addition, each blade comes with 2.4 GB of frame buffer to queue frames in the event of congestion. That's enough buffer space to queue up 50 ms of 10-Gb traffic per port. No worries about dropped frames.

The 7500 is a modular switch, so you can add capacity as you need it, and the switch uses the same extensible operating system across all of its switching products for simple management. The capacity of the 7500 means you can remove switching tiers that were required to aggregate traffic to a core switch, attach to a single access tier and then move right to the core. If you have the cabling, you can remove the access tier altogether.

Face it, with virtualization, your data center looks less like a server farm and more like an high-performance computing cluster. That requires a switching infrastructure and can move large amounts of data quickly and reliably. The Arista 7500 has the horsepower and that's why it won Best of Interop.

-- Mike Fratto