IP Expo Europe 2015 – My Take….!!

Ok, its been a while since my last blog post…. Been inundated with many things…. Anyway, thought I’d re-awaken the blogging monster by mentioning few words on what I thought of the opening day of the IP EXPO Europe 2015 event that I attended today (for the first time I might add).

IP EXPO Europe event is a 2 day, free to attend IT exhibition event and the 2015 edition started today in ExCel, London. According to their website (http://www.ipexpo.co.uk/), they claim that it is the “Europe’s Number ONE Enterprise IT event”. I’ve always wanted to attend this event in the previous years but due to various other commitments, I couldn’t. I normally attend key IT events like these throughout the year, including VMworld, NetApp Insight, Cisco Live and of course, the great Insight Technology Show that is hosted by my employer Insight annually (link to Manchester version which is due soon is here), mainly to keep a tab on new tech from various vendors as well as to network with people in the industry. I have found some little, hidden gems in terms of technologies that I never knew existed, or had heard about but not really had a chance to look in to in detail, during my previous attendances. IP EXPO was something missing off my list, until today that is as I made an effort to go see what this was about.

IP EXPO Europe this year was held in the ExCel in London (Royal Victoria Dock), and all the information about the event can be found on their website. There were different tracks you can follow (Cloud & Infrastructure, Cyber Security, Datacenter, Data Analytics, DevOps & Unified Communications) and while there were some heavyweight key note speakers around to present sessions (which I didn’t attend by the way), there were also the typical exhibition booths from various vendors covering these tracks. I spent all my time there going to each and every booth to find out about what their technology offerings were to see if there were anything that would stand out (to me) based on what they can offer or meet complex business requirements of today’s world.

Vendors

Once you walk in to the exhibition hall, you are faced with a fairly few vendors and their exhibition booths right in front of you (there were also some resellers and other 3rd parties too). The full list of exhibitors can be found on their website here. Though some of the big ones were there, this being labelled as an Enterprise IT event (number one at that supposedly), number of key enterprise tech vendors that you’d normally expect to see in other neutral IT events like these (for example, the Insight Technology Show), were not there unfortunately. I normally focus on the Server, Storage & Virtualisation technologies in my day job and key players in that arena like Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, Oracle, EMC…etc. were not present (at least they didn’t have their own stands which they usually do). If I may say so (and this is entirely my view btw), most if not all vendors that were present there were small to medium size tech vendors (with very few exceptions) rather than big corporate stalwarts that tend to shape technology trends. To me personally, that was a bit of a disappointment.

My Key Interests

I literally went to every exhibition stand to have a look at their tech offering and spoken to most to see if there was any new / emerging  technology or a vendor with a technology of real interest / uniqueness that I should take notes of.  Usually, when I attend VMware’s VMworld or Cisco Live or even Insight Technology show every year, I come away with a number of key, previously unknown (to me) vendors that offer some key technology that can address those weird, uncommon, yet critical business or IT requirements. Unfortunately, there weren’t many of them at IP EXPO Europe that I came across today (I have to say, I was little biased towards Server, Storage and Virtualisation technologies rather than security or unified comms in my assessment).

The few interesting ones, that were new to me and therefore would be worth an individual mention, are listed below FYI.

  • Kroll Ontrack
    • URL: http://www.krollontrack.co.uk/
    • What they do: Kroll is a market leader in data recovery and seem to have some really cool capability when it comes to recovering data, be that typical consumer data from a failed or a broken hard disk to enterprise data recovery from an enterprise SAN storage like NetApp or even VMware VSAN. I was really keen on their experience in being able to recover data from a failed VMware VSAN cluster which apparently was something even VMware VSAN support team were not able to do. You can read all about it here. So much so, that Kroll Ontrack is now a VMware partner that they back off extreme data recovery work to within VMware support (This was something I was lead to believe by their Systems Engineer, unsure how true it is). Also, they claim to be able to do metadata repairs on failed NetApp disks and you can read about it here which I though was really cool. It goes without saying that you need to architect your enterprise storage systems properly such that in the case of a planned or unplanned failure, you have the ability to restore data from backup copies but in the unlikely event of  needing to recover data from source, Kroll Ontrack seem to come real handy.
  • Delphix
    • URL: http://www.delphix.com/
    • What they do:  Provide data as a service through using software to create virtual, zero space copies of your databases, applications and file systems. This is really cool as they’d take a copy of your database for example (most major database types are supported such as Microsoft SQL server, Oracle, My SQL…etc.) on to the Delphix engine and then present virtual copies of those database files to multiple clients (think Test & Dev copies of the same data) without consuming additional storage underneath (if you are familiar with NetApp FlexClone technology, this is kind of the same). Not only that but such copy provisioning can be self orchestrated through a self serviceable portal and could be a great usecase for Test & Development environments (I know a number of customers on top of my head that would benefit from this straight away). My first question to their System Engineer (yeah I don’t waste time talking to sales people at these events but only to technical people who says it as is) was, well, can you not use this for example to create VDI clones using a gold image (which would work better than linked clones for example) and apparently there are talks underway between the 2 companies already. Again, really interesting technology that I’d keep an eye on which can help solve many corporate IT challenges. More details on  their web site.

Other than these 2, there were few others such as Druva, a converged data protection technology for mobile and endpoint devices, A10 Networks that offers Server Load Balancing, Global server load balancing, Application Delivry Controllers, DDoS Mitigation and Network management solutions and Bomgar that provide Remote Support Software and Privileged Access Management solutions caught my eye too.

Summary – My thoughts….!

IP EXPO Europe is not the same standard as VMworld or Cisco Live or dare I say, even the Insight Technology Show (might be biased on the last one) as the lack of major vendors and their stands was little disappointing. However attending the even could still be of value to those average IT consumer who wants to get a feel for some new and some medium to large scale technology offerings available, especially if you are not a seasoned IT professional who generally tend to stay on top of most things relating to IT. The DevOps track in particular was pretty good I thought as they had most key DevOps vendors out such as Puppet, Chef……etc. available and those DevOps tech are very relevant to the current IT industry where automation and orchestration is in high demand right now. So you’d benefit from visiting those stands and talking to their SE’s available to talk to. It is also a free to attend event (similar to Insight Technology Show) which must be mentioned here as not many folks can afford to send their IT staff to attend expensive paid for events such as VMworld / Microsoft Teched / Cisco Live… It would also be good if you are focused on IT security as the whole event had far more security vendors (or someone with a technology relating to IT security in some shape or form) than any other vendor type, including some of the big players such as F5, Palo Alto & BAE. (I guess the Edward Snowden factor is still playing out on the full swing in peoples minds….!)

Would I come back next year to attend? Well, I’m not sure…. I personally didn’t think I learned or achieved anywhere near what I expected (based on what I’m used to getting, having attended other similar events). Guess I’ll have to see which vendors make up the exhibitors list next year and then decide. Based on todays attendance, I definitely do not agree with their self proclaimed status of this being the “Europe’s number 1 IT event”.

If you do attend this years IP EXPO Europe and found anything interesting, please feel free to post a comment…

Cheers

Chan

Chan

Lead Solutions Architect & Hybrid Cloud Practice Lead

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