My Most Memorable Moments of 2015

Much of my work in the past year has been on Light Reading events, so it's not surprising that some of my most memorable moments of 2015 happened on the stages I helped set. Here's a look at those top moments, as we prepare to turn the page to 2016:

Best Individual Quote: This one's surprisingly easy for me. It came in mid-November at our White Box Strategies for CSPs event in Santa Clara, Calif. Michael Bushong, VP of Datacenter Routing and Switching for Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) was discussing open source software, and offered this assessment that immediately resonated with the crowd: "Open source is free... like a puppy is free."

In addition to being humorous in that moment, it is also a very apt analogy for the long-term support and integration challenges that open source can pose for network operators, even if, as with the free puppy, it is initially acquired at no cost. (See White Box Networking: It's Not About Cost.)

Best Panel: This one was a little bit tougher, but only a little bit. At our Carrier Network Security Strategies event in New York City in early December, Heavy Reading Chief Analyst Patrick Donegan chaired a panel that included Dave Ostertag of Verizon Enterprise Solutions , Pat Barnes of Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), Sid Harshavat of Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), Tim Rains of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Michael Sabbota of Arbor Networks in the liveliest, frankest, most informative discussion of today's security threats and responses I've heard to date. The conversation will resonate in much of what I write about security in the months ahead. (See Polymorphic Attacks Reshape Security Landscape.)

Best Keynote: OK, this was hard because there were a number of excellent choices. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Chief Security Officer Ed Amoroso kicked off the security event with yet another of his seemingly low-key entertaining addresses that actually carried considerable insight into the current challenge operators and their vendors face in reshaping the security architecture. AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi did one of the best jobs I've seen at explaining both the integration challenge behind NFV and the role of open source in addressing it at our NFV Everywhere event in Dallas in September. And Brocade's CMO Christine Heckart worked humor and multiple pop cultural references into her detailed look at the network of the future at our Big Communications Event. (See AT&T's Amoroso: Build Botnets of Security AT&T's Chiosi: Unite on Open Source or Suffer and Adventures in 'Platforming' at BTE.)

But for my money, the best keynote of the year came from David Amzallag of Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) at our OSS in the Era of SDN and NFV event in London. The head of virtualization, NFV and SDN was bluntly direct and specific in spelling out how network operations need to adapt to virtualization and where network operators are in serious need of assistance from their vendors. Amzallag kicked off the day of discussion, then stuck around all day to keep talking with those in attendance, which helped make for lively discussions throughout the event. It's the kind of service provider input that makes Light Reading events special, in my prejudiced view. (See Vodafone Calls for End to Five Nines.)

Speaker of the Year: This is an impossible category in which to choose, but I've included it mostly to recognize one excellent speaker who was on stage at multiple LR events this year and in the past, and that's Jeff Finkelstein, executive director of strategic architecture at Cox Communications Inc. Jeff is a mainstay at LR's cable events, which are probably the best series of events in terms of content that we do year in and year out, thanks to the work of Alan Breznick, Head of Cable Practice for both Light Reading and Heavy Reading. But Finkelstein always brings fresh insights, as well as some humor, and he did that again this year, at three different LR events. (See Cox's Athena to Virtualize Home Network.)

Best Overall Event: I put this last because it is a losing proposition, akin to choosing your prettiest child. But there was one LR event this year that clearly distinguished itself as exceptional and that was the Carrier SDN Networks event in Denver last May. Again, the key was service provider input and there were seven service providers involved in this one day, all offering candid and informative insight on one specific area of network transformation, under the guidance of Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Sterling Perrin. You can see videos and coverage from that event right here, and they are still quite relevant.

So that's my list of memorable live event moments -- I'm sure others have theirs, so feel free to share.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

Sterling Perrin 1/4/2016 | 10:29:35 AM
Re: Good choices Carol, thanks for calling out Carrier SDN Networks, it was a great event!

As you point out, the successful events are all about the content. In this case, the timing was good as in mid-2015 the industry had just reached a point where the operators had some concrete things they were able to say publicly about carrier SDN - as was the case with Tom Anschutz's keynote on functional disaggregation work at AT&T.

The other key element that really worked was that Denver served as the perfect hub to bring together the cable and telecom operators in a fairly intimate setting to share their thoughts about the future of SDN/NFV. And we found their goals were amazingly similar, particularly regarding the access networks, where it became clear there is tremendous need and value for SDN and NFV.

Some people are asking about the 2016 event: we are combining it with our previously standalone NFV event, for a 2-day event covering both topics, on Sept. 14-15th. The reason for combining is the significant overlap between NFV and SDN. But we are keeping the location as Denver, because the bringing together of the telco and cable elements is key.

thebulk 12/31/2015 | 10:40:11 PM
Great pics Seeing your picks and thinking back to all the great content that came along from some of these I can't help but wonder what will come from next year, I can't wait to see. 
MikeP688 12/30/2015 | 12:17:14 PM
Re: Good choices It has been insightful especially for those of us in the LR Virtual Community who have been enlightened by the breathtaking changes we've been witness to.   2016 will be even more interesting --no question especially as we're seeing transformational changes throughout the areas of focus.   I would humbly add one "Virtual feature" to the list:  Steve's travel to Israel and the insights he shared on it (which I was not too surprised due to the vibrancy of the Israeli Start-up ecosystem).   I could not help but wonder what could Israel be if it did not have to deal with the political & security uncertainties as I reflected upon it.

Happy New Year!!!


Steve Saunders 12/30/2015 | 9:18:18 AM
Re: Good choices Not at all! I think it's 100% true!
cnwedit 12/30/2015 | 8:47:55 AM
Re: Good choices Thanks, Steve, it was a great year for our events but I'm thinking 2016 will be even better. Is that too shameless a plug?
Steve Saunders 12/29/2015 | 10:32:17 PM
Good choices I can't disagree with any of your picks, Carol - especially that Vodafone keynote, which for me was the pivot in the whole year, in terms of my opinions about next gen comms. Wow, when you look back at it we ran some stellar events! Congrats to you on a job very well done!
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