Interop Keynotes: Technology Must Be Simple, Open - InformationWeek

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5/3/2006
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Interop Keynotes: Technology Must Be Simple, Open

Consumer-driven interfaces and open standards are the orders of the day, according to keynote speeches made by Google and Juniper executives at this week's networking trade show.

Emerging technologies need to be shaped around simplicity of use and ease of development and interoperability, Google and Juniper Networks executives said in back-to-back keynotes at Interop Las Vegas 2006.

Dave Girouard, Google Enterprise general manager, predicted that the user-friendliness and appeal of consumer technology will change the way enterprise business technology is designed and delivered.

Today's enterprise applications were developed by experts who in turn designed user interfaces for experts, and the upgrade path has been a continual process of adding more commands, making enterprise apps more complex, Girouard said. That stands in stark contrast to far more appealing consumer interfaces, such as those on an Apple iPod or the Google Web site splash page, each of which require few steps to perform complex tasks, he said.

"Consumer technology is driving innovation," Girouard said. "Enterprise applications lack passion."

Ultimately, users who have grown accustomed to the intuitive functionality of consumer devices and interfaces are going to force a change in enterprise technology, he said.

"Today's applications are not designed with the end user in mind, but with the business process in mind," Girouard said. "Simple is good. Learn from technology choices made by consumers."

His points reflected a theme conveyed by Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers in an Interop keynote earlier this week. Chambers said that within a decade, the "rise of the empowered consumer and employee" would foster the development of technology that enables global connectivity and collaboration via voice, video and data.

But to achieve such seamless interaction, application developers must opt for open standards, said Juniper Chairman and CEO Scott Kriens in his keynote. "We have to change from competing proprietary networks to open networks," he said.

And the move to a universally open network framework must be done without vendors fearing that they will lose market share, as well as without the further development of networks that retain customers by making it impossible for them to leave, Kriens said. Technology buyers can spur this change with their purchasing habits, he noted.

"Insist this industry opens itself up, and you will retain control," Kriens said.

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