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Infrastructure Is Now At Interop 2016

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Following the opening keynote speech by Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Martin Casado, Interop showcased a keynote panel of three professionals from very large, infrastructure intensive organizations. Dan Roberts, CEO of Ouellette & Associates moderated the panel of Manjit Singh, CIO Clorox; Lakshmi Eleswarpu, Senior Director, Cloud and Network Engineering for the Coca Cola Company; and Jim Rinaldi, CIO at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Roberts started by noting that the industry disruption cycle had decreased from 10 years to three years. He asked Singh how that affected Clorox. Singh noted how the customers of Clorox are actually big retailers like Walmart and Amazon, and other large distributors, but the actual consumers of the products are people like us. In the last few years, the wall of communication between Clorox and the consumers has shifted. For example, Clorox, which owns Britta, has developed and marketed an internet-linked pitcher that automatically orders new filters from Amazon when you need them. The company overall is moving from a push model to a pull model, where the company encourages consumer-to-business interaction.

Eleswarpu discussed how Coca-Cola is working to engage customers via an innovative infrastructure. She related a story about how in India, some Coca Cola vending machines double as Wi-Fi hotspots. When you buy a Coke from the machine, you get 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi. The company has found that this has become a social thing where people gather around to take advantage of the connectivity.

In another part of the discussion, with regard to people that work at Coca-Cola, Eleswarpu said, “Pieces of IT are becoming a commodity, but people should never be a commodity.”

Rinaldi talked about the challenges of an organization like JPL. He noted that the science data they collect is public, and they need to provide access to scientists and the public all over the world. However, some of the internal technical data is not public and must be secured. So, JPL must build and maintain and open, accessible network, while at the same time providing security for data. He got a nice laugh when he commented, “If we find life on another planet, maybe I have a new client.”

Following the panel, Cathy Polinsky, VP of Engineering for Search Salesforce, spoke about the company’s growth and focus on trust. She noted similar paradigm shifts to Casado’s earlier talk. Not long ago, the model was mainframe to terminals, and those numbered in the thousands. Then, there was the server to client model, and those numbered in the millions. Today, it's services or software to a phone or tablet, and by 2020, there are projected to be 6 billion smartphones. The difficulty is delivering a single-user experience in a world where many different devices are connected.

Finally, Matt Enclavea, VP of Technology for the Sacramento Kings, showed how he and his small IT team are building a “future proof” infrastructure at the Kings’ new stadium, which will handle 200 events per year, plus support a retail plaza and hotel. His main directive from the owners, which he respectfully called “a bunch of nerds,” was that they didn’t “want to have to rip this all out in five years.”

To that end, they are bringing in more network than they will need. They are installing single mode fiber that will support a high-density Wi-Fi network so that everyone in the arena can have a wireless connection. Doing so requires a lot of equipment, including some that they basically have to invent. Some access points will literally be under fans’ seats. “You can’t get any closer than that,” Enclavea said. This is all while maintaining security with 17,500 people inside the network.

Another really interesting piece will be a 4K center-hung scoreboard. Enclavea pointed out that although 4K may sound like old news, it isn’t at this size. The scoreboard video will measure 84 x 30 feet.    

All in all, it turns out that infrastructure is very much alive.