CertMag reports our whirlwind tour of Interop 2015

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Viva Las Vegas! CertMag goes to Interop.VIVA LAS VEGAS! Last week CertMag dropped in at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Resort to check out Interop Las Vegas 2015 — the IT industry’s leading vendor-neutral conference and expo series.

Interop is known for bringing the best, and this time they even threw in the kitchen-sink. There were deep-dive workshops, fascinating keynotes, sessions in IT leadership, mobility and a host of other areas. Seriously, there was something for everybody.

We got to hear from Brian Shield, vice president of IT for the Boston Red Sox. Shield called the IT hiring model flawed, contrasting it with the way a championship baseball team is built. “The real difference between a baseball team and an IT team is that for the most part, IT teams don’t ‘scout’ players until they have a hole to fill,” he said. “Baseball teams are constantly scouting players from high school on. By the time a player gets even close to professional ball, scouts know an immense amount about them. That scouting continues through the life of a player’s career, including times when the player is on another team.”

He also said that “50 million baby boomers in the United States will be retiring within the next five years, which could leave a shortage of capable IT workers.” Looks like now is the time to start scouting for talent: check out your competitors, look at the young kids interning or winning IT awards in high-school and college, and whatever it takes to build a winning team.

(CertMag believes in learning from keynote speakers: We’re looking for a pitcher for our slow-pitch softball team. If you own your own glove and aren’t afraid of being hit by line drives, give us a call.)

Michael Gliedman, CIO for the National Basketball Association, was also in attendance. He took time out from the NBA Playoffs to tell us how the league utilizes immense amounts of video and data to enhance the fan experience. (Who knew there was more to attending a game than just the “kiss-cam” and overpriced beer?)

The big-box stores were represented by Walmart CIO, Karenann Terrell, who told us how her company constantly modernizes their IT to give us those low prices we love so much. (Maybe she could meet with Shield and Gliedman and show them how to lower their ticket prices.)

CertMag was dazzled, not only by the lights on the Strip, but even more so by what was happening on the floor of the convention center. There were more than 350 exhibitors ranging from industry giants like HP, VMWare and Cisco (easily the largest booth in attendance — and totally worth the visit).

A cadre of brash young start-ups were also on hand. Four of them were featured in the “Startup Hot Seat” session, where they presented and defended their innovations in front of a panel of experts. Questions ranged from “What does your innovation do?” to “Why should investors support it?” Their presentations were great, and showed us that there are a lot of very intelligent people pursuing a lot of great ideas.

A new addition to Interop was the Roundtables. These small-group sessions were hosted by subject-matter experts and designed to facilitate conversation around a number of important topics like DevOps, hacktivism, mobile development and loads of other cool stuff.

Interop 2015: You are there. Well, we were there. And we took this photo.

Interop 2015: You are there. Well, we were there. And we took this photo.

The Best of Interop awards were also announced. There were 91 submissions in 10 categories ranging from networking storage, cloud computing, mobility, and so forth. JumpCloud took home the grand prize for its JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, while VeloCloud laid claim to “best startup” for their WAN networking technology.

Cisco took home three awards for Data Center, Mobility and SDN. (Apparently size does matter.)

As always, Interop attendees and exhibitors came from around the world. In a statement to the media, Jennifer “JJ” Jessup, Interop General Manager, said, “We’re the technology version of the United States. We bring everybody together. We welcome everybody. We want everyone to benefit from each other’s presence. It’s just a great community gathering.”

Interop Las Vegas was indeed a great gathering of bright minds and innovative ideas and well worth the trip. The rule that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” doesn’t apply; the impact of Interop and its attendees will be felt throughout the Industry in 2015 and for years to come.

Save the date for next year’s Interop: May 2-6, 2016. CertMag had so much fun we’re showing up again — only this time, we’re bringing the Elvis jumpsuits!

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Calvin Harper


Calvin Harper is an associate editor of Certification Magazine.

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