Networld + Interop brings back Comdex

Organizers say a focus on security, wireless solutions, voice-over-IP and the addition of a Comdex track will break this year’s NetWorld+Interop out of the trade show doldrums and become the East Coast’s premier IT conference.


which runs until Thursday in Atlanta, Ga. is planning a makeover to attract a bigger audience and bring back excitement to an industry rocked by upheavals, Key3Media president Valerie Williamson says.

“”We left behind a considerable audience when Comdex left Atlanta (several years ago),”” she says. “”Our research found that a lot of attendees who normally would not participate in NetWorld+Interop because of its networking focus wanted a solution that provided a look at the whole IT value chain. With the addition of Comdex, we can provide them with that opportunity.””

The Comdex educational track will include sessions on mobility, Web service deployment and IT alignment. This will broaden the focus of what has traditionally been seen by the IT industry as a very technical show and launch it to the top of the East Coast IT trade show heap, says Computer Associates enterprise management solutions business manager Melvin Estrada.

The software company has seen the Atlanta trade show as a critical part of its business operations and will not only be an exhibitor, but will also provide network services for the tradeshow, Estrada says.

Security concerns will get top billing this year, says Williamson. The overview of issues and solutions surrounding this topic will include two full days of training called InfoSecurity University, as well as Network Forensics Day, a technology discusison with analysts from PMG NetAnalyst.

“”Our security zone is brand new this year. It has been so successful we’ve had to expand it multiple times over the course of getting ready for this event,”” says Williamson.

Even with new features added, the Atlanta show has an uphill battle ahead of it, says 3Com spokesman Anthony Petrucci, since IT trade shows have been generally experiencing lower attendance rates.

“”It seems like all trade shows have been impacted by the economic downturn in general, both in America and globally,”” he says. “”People are speculating that attendance may be lower at this show because of N+I Vegas which announces all the major news, there are not a lot of new things that happen over the summer.””

With that in mind, and a booth scaled down to what Petrucci calls a more appropriate size, 3Com will be present at the show and sees it as a good opportunity to exhibit new technologies.

“”At the last N+I we made a big announcement around the XRN technology. At this N+I we’re actually demonstrating XRN technology. We want to invite customers and industry observers to come by the booth and take a look at the XRN demonstrations,”” says Petrucci.

At press time, spokespeople for Cisco had not confirmed whether the company would exhibit at this year’s show.

Computer Associates is planning to preview a number of security and wireless solutions to be announced in the coming months, says Estrada.

The trade show is still a good opportunity to market the 26-year-old company, adds Computer Associates Unicenter performance technologies product manager Joe Scott.

“”We’re always open for more awareness of our products and solutions and what we’re doing in the industry,”” he says.

The organizers are optimistic that the show will fare well even though it will be running during the one year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, and expect a good turn out.

“”We don’t like to look into crystal balls,”” says Williamson. “” I can say that it’s looking very good. We’re tracking very nicely on our pre-registry. I can give you a range of what we’re looking at, which is anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 thousand attendees.””

Attendees fled last year’s N+I in droves after news of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Petagon in Washington were announced during the opening keynote with Avaya executives.

Taking the state of the economy and the IT industry into account, Williamson says NetWorld+Interop and Comdex show will be a step in the direction of bigger and better shows. Attracting more people simply means widening the scope of the show, she says.

“”I think we’re going to have more people than last year, which is good. I think a lot of that is the inclusion of Comdex,”” Williamson says.

Senior executives from Sprint, Foundry Networks and Cingular Wireless were scheduled to deliver keynote presentations on Tuesday.

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