Networld + Interop shuts down in wake of U.S. terrorist crisis

ATLANTA – A major networking trade show was shut down Tuesday following terrorist attacks on the United States.

Several vendors, including Red Hat Software, pulled out.

Although no terrorists hit Atlanta as of 2:30 p.m., Key3Media Events Inc. closed the Networld + Interop show floor at the Georgia Congress Center.

Valerie Williamson, brand president for Networld Interop with Key3 Media, said the show floor had been closed at the request of exhibitors, though she would not name any. The show is scheduled to continue Wednesday.

There were unconfirmed reports Microsoft and Intel pulled out. Broadcaster CNN’s headquarters, located across the road from the show, was reportedly shut down. Media reports indicated Coca-Cola’s world headquarters was evacuated.

The concern among exhibitors and show organizers was a lack of flights from Atlanta, rather than safety.

“I’m thinking of splitting,” said Terry Young, a principal design engineer with Avaya Inc.

Young had flown in from Boston for the day and was trying to figure out how to get back.

Two Red Hat Software workers who didn’t want their names used said they were booking a Greyhound Bus to take them back home.

The show itself seemed trivial on the minds of attendees, many of whom crowded around television sets watching footage of what was left of the World Trade Center.

A show organizer announced the attacks during Avaya’s keynote session.

Avaya on the stage

Today was the first anniversary of the spinoff of Avaya from its parent company, Lucent Technologies Inc. Avaya continues to make Lucent’s enterprise networking products.

Avaya president Donald Peterson said during his address that the enterprise space shows more promise than the carrier and service provider markets.

He added Avaya expects its profits this year will be higher than last year, though revenues will drop. Peterson said he thinks the current slowdown in spending will reverse, but he added he will not predict when.

Before making purchasing decisions, network managers have to ask what sort of return on investment they’ll get, he said.

For example, some surveys have shown unified messaging systems – which integrate voice, data and fax functions – can save users 30 minutes per day but some systems only cost $200 per seat.

“You do the math,” Peterson added.

Although Avaya is also pushing convergence – linking voice and data networks using IP– one network manager thinks the technology isn’t ready.

Hal Marietta, director of network services for Port St. Lucie, Fla.-based Liberty Medical Supply Inc., said he was looking at voice over IP three months ago, but some Avaya technicians were telling him the technology wasn’t ready.

“These are the technicians that are actually out there doing the stuff,” he said, though he added voice-over-IP is pushed by sales and marketing staff.

Marietta said he was hoping to get a chance to ask Microsoft exhibitors about Windows, but Microsoft bailed before he got a chance.

Liberty, which distributes medical supplies, runs some of its systems on NT and others on Windows 2000. It plans to install Windows 2000 Datacenter Server – which can scale to 32 processors – later this month.

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