The Show Must Go On

Can this week's Networld+Interop jump-start the networking market?

Some days, the crystal ball is cloudy. But if you look closely at this weeks Networld+Interop in Las Vegas, you may see blue skies ahead.

After months of the large networking companies being beaten up in the market, financial analysts like Morgan Stanleys Christopher Stix—while not quite proclaiming that good times are here again—are saying that the enterprise network market is stabilizing.

Wall Street has taken that as good news. Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, Juniper Networks, Redback, and Sycamore Networks have seen their stocks move upward. If that trend continues, the N+I show wont be tinged with desperation.

The future of networking and communications over the Internet will be discussed by top industry executives during keynote sessions Tuesday. The lineup is Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel; Guruaj Deshpande, co-founder and chairman of Sycamore Networks; and Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO of Juniper Networks.

Look for the event to also showcase plenty of second-tier networking companies gunning for Cisco, Lucent and Nortel with new products.

Some technologies are certain to get more than just a passing glance at N+I. Gigabit Ethernet WANs, for example, have garnered great interest. While leading Gigabit Ethernet company Yipes will be presenting at only one session, other companies like Net to Net Technologies will show how its technology extends Ethernet beyond the LAN by introducing technology that enables Ethernet to run over DSL lines.

Nokia and Internet Security Systems will announce an expanded joint channel and marketing relationship for the RealSecure intrusion-detection appliance.

While the Bluetooth personal LAN technology no longer has many admirers, another, older wireless technology, 802.11b for LAN connections, is reemerging. This technology, which reaches 11Mbps, will find its way into new network interface cards from 3Com and Xircom.

Voice over IP (VoIP) and Voice over DSL (VoDSL) also will be well-represented. Besides Cisco and Nortel, many other companies will be pushing technologies such as Voice over ATM and Voice over Frame.

And, of course, anyone whos anyone in network services has an IP/VPN solution. Savvis Communications, along with other companies like Broadwing, Global One and Qwest Communications, will show its latest IP/VPN offerings.

Good times ahead? It may be a bit too early to predict that. Better times? Perhaps. Thanks to a somewhat brighter business climate and an influx of improved basic technologies instead of new, potentially flash-in-the-pan technologies, that looks more than likely.