Enterprise 2.0, corporate agility big themes at Interop '08

The drift of consumer-oriented products and Web sites into corporate IT departments is inevitable

IT departments intent on blocking access to workers' favorite consumer devices and social networking Web sites will have to change their ways or risk falling behind the times, says Interop General Manager Lenny Heymann.

In fact, Heymann notes that the drift of consumer-oriented products and Web sites into corporate IT departments is inevitable, and Interop has dedicated several sessions this year to help IT departments cope with this new reality.

"We've been very conscious of the increasing impact of consumer trends on IT," he says. "With things like the iPhone and social networks, IT departments can't choose to ignore them anymore. Many leading IT people are now embracing them, and the reality of it has really hit home this year."

With this in mind, Interop has planned a session this year revolving around the iPhone's potential as an enterprise device. Moderated by Range Networks CEO Glenn Edens, the panel will address what the iPhone's new features, including corporate push e-mail, VPN support and remote wipe capabilities, can do to make it more business-friendly. The session also will cover the potential of the recently released iPhone software development kit (SDK) to create and deploy applications that can integrate with corporate IT networks.

In addition to looking at how to integrate consumer devices onto corporate IT networks, the conference will take a close look at so-called "Enterprise 2.0" applications that utilize Web 2.0 technologies such as social networking Web sites and wikis to deliver revenue for businesses. Sessions on this track include an Enterprise 2.0 overview that takes a broad look at how these new applications are changing businesses; a panel discussion about the return on investment (ROI) for businesses that invest in social networking sites; a panel of software-as-a-service vendors who will describe how Web platforms can give big boosts to software-as-a-service applications; and several cases studies of businesses that have successfully deployed Enterprise 2.0 at their workplaces.

"Enterprise 2.0 is certainly very compelling, and there are lots of companies that are embracing social networks," says Heymann. "Some are still being more skeptical, because one thing that's inherent in Enterprise 2.0 platforms is that they're online, which means there are security concerns that have to be addressed by the enterprise. . . . Still, I think social networks can't be ignored at this point, and you're going to see lot of excitement in those sessions."

Another big theme at this year's Interop will be green IT, a series of sessions designed to give IT departments ideas for making technology more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Among the environmental IT issues due to be discussed are eco-friendly technology in data centers, as well as the proper role for the data center in environmental stewardship; tips for deploying a green IP telephony network; a presentation on how companies can invest in green storage; and a presentation on how smartly employing virtualization can save companies' energy use. Additionally, Interop will host a day-long "Energy Camp" seminar on the day before the conference starts that Heymann says will "open up the discussion to the whole community to ask for their perspectives on sustainability" and ask audience members for their ideas for how to make IT greener.

"Green IT is rising in importance by the minute," he says. "We decided for Energy Camp to move away from some of the more traditional conference formats by inviting more community comments to share their expertise with each other."

Finally, Heymann hopes that companies attending Interop will get a sense how technologies such as software-as-a-service, service-oriented architectures, virtualization and Enterprise 2.0 give them the opportunity to be more flexible in responding to customer demands. Organizations that fall behind in adopting these new platforms and applications, he says, will lack the flexibility to effectively compete.

"The dominant theme for the technology market this year is creating agile organizations," he says. "These new technologies increasingly have to be integrated together to give IT rapid solutions to respond more rapidly as businesses and organizations."

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