Recap of the 2019 Interop Conference

I recently attended, and spoke at, the 2019 Interop Conference. The event ran from May 20-23 at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas. See

Interop is all about enterprise computer network systems. So most of the topics of the talks, panel discussions, and workshops included network security, general infrastructure, DevOps, and technical IT topics.

The Interop Expo had perhaps 60 companies represented. The Artic Wolf company had two beautiful dogs that really caught my eye.

I estimate there were between 1500 and 2500 attendees, speakers, and vendors at the conference. The attendees I talked to came from all kinds of backgrounds: big companies, small companies, government employees, and everything in-between.

Most of the big players in IT were represented in some way at the conference. For example, I talked to people from Google, Microsoft, Accenture, Intel, Cisco, IBM, and so on.

The main hallway and my session room before my talk.

I gave a talk titled “Understanding Deep Neural Networks” where I explained exactly what a regular neural network is and how multiple hidden layers can create a deep neural network. Then I described LSTM (long, short-term memory) networks, and CNNs (convolutional neural networks). I also talked about neural network attention, transformers, and BERT for natural language processing. I concluded by describing how deep neural autoencoders can be used to create unbiased and interpretable machine learning prediction systems. My talk was very well-received by attendees.

Some of the trends I observed at Interop were: IoT is a declining topic of conversation, blockchain wasn’t discussed as much as I thought it would be, and there was giant interest in all things related to security and also to machine learning and AI.

All in all, it was an excellent event. Interop has been around for many years and in my mind what sets it apart is how the event changes significantly every year, reflecting tends in IT. For example, 10 years ago, most of the vendors at Interop were hardware related — cables, routers, etc. Then a few years ago, it was all about “software defined networks”. And then this year there was a lot of buzz around security and AI. And who knows what the trends will be next year? Well, actually, I do — it will probably be security and AI again.

I’m confident I represented my company well. I learned a lot: sensing the pulse of business trends by seeing how many people showed up to each type of talk, and picking up useful technical insights from impromptu chats with attendees and speakers.

It is unlikely that my puppies (Riley, left 24 months old, Kevin right, 6 months old) will ever represent a tech company at a conference.

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