INTEROP - Conference spins technology as a way to save

Vendors touted SOA as building services that can be shared across business units using existing resources and lower long-term expenses

The business executives often conclude that IT exaggerates the benefits of reusability or underestimates project cost, Howard said. IT professionals are generally bad at presenting the business case for SOA, and need to get better at explaining to CEOs the long-term benefits in cost and flexibility, he says.

Vendors are also contributing to SOA problems. Rebranding old products and claiming they are SOA-compatible is pretty common, Howard said. In fact, as in most technologies, it's not in vendors' interests to have products that are fully compatible with their competitors', he says.

Virtualization can have a dark side as well. When users can clone a virtual machine with the click of a mouse, or save versions of applications and operating systems for later use, they're asking for trouble if IT doesn't maintain tight control, virtualization management vendor Embotics warned in an Interop session.

This virtual sprawl can waste space on physical servers and tax software resources. It can also burden IT with more manual processes and increased security risk, Lynch said. "The risk of sprawl is a lot higher in the virtual world than it is in the physical world," he said.

Offline virtual machines present a problem, in that automatic patching systems don't recognize them, leaving them without critical updates, Lynch said. He recommended that IT shops set policies limiting the amount of time a virtual machine is allowed to stay offline. If it's offline for a period of, say, 30 days, just eliminate it, he said.

Other highlights of the show included Juniper revealing it plans to roll out low-end branch-office routers over the next year as it tries to supply equipment for small businesses and branch offices.

The goal is to put boxes in branches that support headquarters-like performance and availability, says Alex Gray, vice president and general manager of the company's branch products, which include the J-Series routers and SSG security gateways.

Meanwhile, for those awaiting Cisco's next big product overhaul, 2009 might be the year.

Cisco is planning a significant campus product launch under the code-name "Big Bang," according to Marie Hattar, vice present of network systems and security solutions marketing. It will follow this year's refresh of the data center with the Nexus 7000 line, and the edge router portfolio with the ASR 1000 series.

Despite the jolt inspired by the code name, Hattar promises that Big Bang will be an "evolutionary" event for customers of Cisco's Catalyst 6500 switches, not a "forklift." To help ease the impact of Big Bang, Cisco plans to incrementally enhance the Catalyst 6500 line before then to extend its life span, Hattar says.

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