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XML at Interop 2005: Is XML Still Relevant?

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Frank Coyle went to Interop 2005 this year to see what impact, if any, XML was having on the movers and shakers in the world of networking. His foray gave him new insights into how XML’s success is impacting the world of networking. For the overhead associated with XML processing, he sees hardware-based solutions as one viable option for alleviating the pressure on servers to parse, extract and route XML traffic. But the challenges associated with the increased bandwidth have fewer ready made solutions. The explosion of asynchronous XML traffic, generated by Ajax styled web applications, are beginning to keep network managers from getting a good night’s sleep.

This December, Interop 2005 held its major network interoperability conference at New York City's Jacob Javits Center. I decided to stop by and have a look, interested in seeing what impact, if any, XML was having on the movers and shakers in the world of networking.

What's in a name?

If the name Interop sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because both the conference name and conference focus have changed over the past 19 years to keep pace with the ongoing changes in networking and the web. Back in pre-web 1986 Interop began as a workshop sponsored by DARPA and the Internet Activities Board (IAB) to bring TCP/IP designers and implementers together to explore the future of TCP/IP. The workshop quickly expanded into a conference called the TCP/IP Interoperability Conference, where getting networks to talk to each other was the primary focus. In 1994, as the Web began to take shape, the conference morphed to NetWorld+Interop and then as recently as 2005 the NetWorld prefix was dropped and the conference settled in with its current name, Interop.

Looking at the name changes as indicative of how the networking community viewed its mission, I was curious to see how the players in networking were being influenced by Wceb Services and Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs), both hot topics in the XML world. A recent research report from ZapThink (http://www.zapthink.com) predicted a growth in XML traffic on corporate networks from 15% in 2004 to just under 48% by 2008. With these numbers in mind, I decided to brave the windy canyons of the Big Apple and see for myself how XML and network managers were getting along.

After just a short time at Interop it became clear that XML was a significant factor for network planners. Organized around major tracks, the conference included tracks you might expect - - Security, Voice over IP (VoIP) and Wireless and Mobility. But the track that got my attention was the one entitled Application Networks.

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