The Hotstage Post – #Interop

All the planning is for nothing if it doesn’t work onsite. For the InteropNet team, one of the steps to ensure the InteropNet works is a process called hotstage. It has been described as a gathering of the clans, the coming together of vendor organizations and private individuals with one goal. To make things happen. As the name perhaps suggests it is the period of time where we gather and put the three months of planning the Interop network into action. The equipment is staged and the network prepared in a two week period in a warehouse just south of San Francisco. The InteropNet team builds, tests and documents every detail, down to where patch cords are connecting, ensuring that when the equipment is moved to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, it can be rolled to position, connected, and powered on in preparation for the exhibitor and attendee connections. It is a time when creativity and teamwork come together, it also highlights one of the overlooked elements of networks and technology today…

Technology is all about People.

“Technology does not happen without people. Our team of volunteers provide the expertise and dedication needed to put technology into action. The InteropNet is where technology and people come together”

This phrase will be on the Network Operations Center (NOC) buildout at Interop New York 2012.

It is a small way of recognizing the efforts of the people behind the InteropNet.

One of the key selling points of Interop is the peer networking that is available to both conference and expo attendees. Its also the same for the InteropNet team, and nowhere is this more apparent than during hotstage.

We challenge ourselves and learn from each other, taking the information into our normal lives outside of the InteropNet. Whilst we have our gurus and media stars, everyone one is equal on the team and has valuable input that is ready to be shared. It’s what makes the InteropNet and hotstage in particular, a humbling experience, in which you realize that the guy sitting next to you explaining some minor detail is the same person that helped write an IETF RFC. Or, that the guy terminating a cable has just scored a deal to provide services to an emerging market.

A challenge many of us face is that we are always looking for a better way to do something, yet we are so focused on the high level that we miss the most obvious solutions. I was reminded of this recently, during a discussion on the repair and refurbishment of our cable plant, which has seen a lot of abuse over the years. We had some pretty high paid guys discussing the merits of the latest terminating technology and strain relief options as well as looking at different costly replacement scenarios. As the cable plant is something the whole team owns, we were soon joined by additional folks. Upon explaining the issue again to the group a brand new volunteer cleared his throat and hesitantly mentioned a possible solution. Incredulous, the group looked at each other in amazement. The solution was so simple and elegant, yet, had been missed by almost everyone. Now I won’t tell you the solution yet, but if you come by the NOC in New York and ask the right people the right question, you will find the answer.

Most of us go to Interop to learn about a new technology or concept at the conference or talk face to face with the exhibitors, forgetting that the best source of information may be the person sitting beside you. So, when you are at Interop take the time to chat with your fellow attendees or the InteropNet folks. You may not get exactly what you want but I would bet that you will get something that you need.