Seething Booth Envy at Interop - InformationWeek

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5/1/2008
08:37 PM
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Seething Booth Envy at Interop

The surreal world of trade show meshes effortlessly with Las Vegas' disposable facades. With more than 500 tech businesses shoehorning their brands into artificially constrained spaces, jealously of all kinds oozes through the partition walls over booth size, location, and entertainment spectacle; size matters, but it all comes to down to the realtor's mantra of location, location, location.

The surreal world of trade show meshes effortlessly with Las Vegas' disposable facades. With more than 500 tech businesses shoehorning their brands into artificially constrained spaces, jealously of all kinds oozes through the partition walls over booth size, location, and entertainment spectacle; size matters, but it all comes to down to the realtor's mantra of location, location, location.Reviewing the Interop floor map (PDF) reveals the vendor hierarchy as an experiment in urban planning. From the 10' x 10' plats in the show room suburbs to the midsize manses in the interurban corridors to the sprawling towers at the urban core, every vendor can see exactly where they stand in the pecking order.

But out on the floor, the crisp squares bleed into one another in a miasma of high tech product, logo polo clad marketing teams, and showers of business cards passing from hand to hand. Around every corner lurks something more extensible, more scalable, more visible, more virtual, more reliable; all of it clad in robust wrappers to covet. As Dan Druker, SVP of Intacct confided when I stopped by his booth, "I've got a case of booth envy."

The clear leader on location was Foundry Networks with a prime location right by the entry door and a tongue-in-cheek short film running with every presentation (tote bags available if you watch the entire demo).

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Not far away, Ixia emphasized comfort with a lounge designed to lure weary floor trollers in for a sit.

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In a twist on the sprawling booths from the likes of Microsoft, Cisco, Nortel, and Citrix, a certain search provider had a rather understated -- and narrow -- booth.

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High marks to Fusion-io for putting visitors into action: volunteers climbed aboard a pair of gyrating bicycles knowing they'd be hung upside down for crowd-pleasing amusement (they spin like hard drives, and then stop, unlike Fusion-io solid state drives -- get it?).

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Following the theme of demonstrating what it's not, but more literally, Xirrus piled up a symbolic mound of equipment rendered obsolete by its wi-fi solutions.

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Eschewing product symbols, Palo Alto Networks drew an audience with laughs by bringing a comedian to its podium to hold court.

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Elsewhere, D-Link deployed other means to ensure few eyes missed its brand name.

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What the outer booths lacked in size and prime location, they made up for in clarity of message -- witness the blunt simplicity of Highly Reliable Systems.

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And others in the exurbs, including Rock Solid Technical, relied on the double whammy of swag and visual distraction to bring booth traffic to a halt.

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Visit the Interop Flickr site for more booth gawking and event highlights.

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