Interop is promoted as a technology conference and traditionally has covered a range of interoperability topics, from core infrastructure up to applications. The conference also provides attendees with information on current security trends. This year, keynotes spoke broadly of BYOD, cloud computing, the desire for options and in general, the importance of flexibility during change. On the expo floor, some traditional security verticalswere represented (e.g., endpoint protection), but there was even greater representation from universal infrastructure security technologies such as identity management and authentication, network-based out-of-band toolsets, management and control, and logging. Pockets of innovation were also present, particularly the Internet of Things (IoT), a so-called “blue ocean” technology that is gaining momentum globally.

It appears that Interop is in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis. Remember Las Vegas in the past? It used to be that casino floor bells rang constantly, coins perpetually rattled into buckets, and enthusiastic cheers were commonplace. However, like the casinos that surround it, the Interop 2014 expo floor seemed somewhat subdued. There were few major announcements – rather than risk having their messages lost in the noise of a neighbor’s pitch, many vendors chose instead to announce big news before the conference and then organized follow-up briefings during the conference, which enabled focused, face-to-face discussions. This was evident as we walked from booth to booth and heard less “Did you hear our news?” and more “Let me tell you what we do.” Timing also played a role since, with RSA held as recently as February, most of the real security steam had already been released (but even that was more of a whisper than the whistle it has been in past years).

Vendors and attendees alike expressed a desire for differentiation between security vendors. With vendors providing vast amounts of information about their products, analyst firms should be viewed as a guiding light for both enterprise customers and investment firms. With its focus on testing, NSS Labs has risen to this need and is receiving excellent feedback about its new vendor intelligence, product analysis, and quant collateral analysis from the analyst team (yes, we are quite excited about 2014).

Interop is promoted as a technology conference and expo series, but as is so often the case for events of its ilk, it is also an opportunity to catch up with old acquaintances and forge new relationships. For these reasons alone, Interop 2014 was worth the trip.