The Networld+Interop Atlanta 2002 trade show opened last week amid lingering worries about the financial health of the networking industry and some jitters about physical security issues during the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The crowds and the number of exhibitors' booths were expected to be down from previous fall N+I shows, vendors and conference sponsors said last week. But, they added, the attendees who did show up were expected to be qualified IT executives who control their companies' spending budgets, rather than lower-level IT workers.
"My hope is for a strong regional attendance and not embarrassingly small crowds, but I think conference attendance generally is going to start drifting back up" after more than a year of declines at various events, said Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., and a scheduled N+I speaker.
The hottest areas of emphasis were network security and wireless networking, said show organizers. However, few of the big-name networking vendors had plans to announce major new products at N+I.
For example, Cisco Systems Inc. didn't have a corporate presence at the conference; instead, its booth was limited to its businesses in the Atlanta region, and a spokesman said the company won't introduce any products or services.
Computer Associates International Inc. is among the 200 or so N+I exhibitors. Although the company was listed by show sponsor NetWorld+Interop Worldwide as planning to unveil several products, a spokeswoman for Islandia, N.Y.-based CA said that wasn't the case.
Meanwhile, struggling vendors such as Lucent Technologies Inc. in Murray Hill, N.J., and Nortel Networks Ltd. in Brampton, Ontario, sent only speakers to the conference. A Nortel spokesman said the company tends to emphasize the spring N+I show in Las Vegas.
Sprint Corp. is one of the few major telecommunications carriers scheduled to have a booth at the event. In recent years, the fall N+I show has been a good place to meet enterprise IT buyers, said Barry Tishart, director of data product management at Sprint, which demonstrated some IP-based network services that it unveiled earlier this year. But the turnout at the conference "is a million-dollar question," Tishart added.
Some Vendors Plan N+I Announcements
Even though many vendors are worried that NetWorld+Interop Atlanta 2002 might be light on attendees, the following networking equipment makers and network operators plan to announce products and services at the conference:
- In conjunction with Boulder, Colo.-based SpectraLink Corp., Fort Lee, N.J.-based ReefEdge Inc. plans to introduce Version 3.0 of its ReefEdge Connect system for security and management of wireless LANs. The upgrade will add support for managing SpectraLink's line of 802.11x-based wireless phones, ReefEdge said.
- Holtsville, N.Y.-based Symbol Technologies Inc. will formally announce its Mobius WLAN architecture, which puts wireless LAN security and management capabilities on a central switch instead of on individual wireless access points.
- Proxim Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif., will demonstrate a US$249 kit it announced last week to upgrade 802.11b wireless networks to include support for the newer and faster 802.11a technology.
Proxim also unveiled Tsunami QuickBridge, an outdoor wireless bridge that uses the 5.8-GHz band to connect two buildings up to six miles apart as a quick replacement for a T1 or leased line. Tsunami models range in price from $3,500 to $5,500.
- Amsterdam-based Equant NV said it will announce a managed service that provides data, voice and video capabilities on IP-based VPNs.
Equant didn't have a booth at NetWorld+Interop, but it will meet with attendees to detail its global service, which uses IP ports on Cisco routers to segregate data, voice and video traffic from one another. Equant officials said they have signed up 10 companies to use the service, but they wouldn't identify any of them.