|By Derick Winkworth||
|August 13, 2014 05:00 AM EDT||
Networking is a visual field. In fact, we can generalize and say all of IT is. Come to think of it, is there a technical field that isn’t? In this post, I’ll cover a handful of visualization tools that have recently helped me think through and communicate difficult Network Engineering stuff.
Earlier this year I acquired Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid tablet. It has an array of features designed for artists that also happen to be quite useful in other applications such as vector graphics drawing tools. For instance, it has extra buttons on the front panel that can be mapped to functions within your graphics apps. The pen also has two buttons on it which similarly can be assigned to application functions. If you are used to a tool like Visio or Inkscape, then these buttons come in very handy for things like multiple selection, grouping, saving, and undoing. The menus in some of the graphics apps are cumbersome too use while drawing, so being able to assign buttons to certain actions brings the frustration level down when you are first getting used to using the pen.
Graphics tablets (and I include the i7 Surface Pro 3 here) generally have beefier processors, more RAM, and richer displays than your average tablet. This makes the response time with the pen feel instantaneous. On lesser tablets, the response time isn’t as great, and it seems like the tablet is trying to keep up with your hand. The better screen on a graphics tablet causes the perceived depth between the tip of the pen and what you are drawing to be a lot less, and therefore drawing feels more natural. All that extra hardware has other benefits too: Video games and movies look and feel great. If you’re a comic book nerd, then I have good news for you. The larger, richer display gives the comics more life while making them more immersive.
But back to networking. The point here is that you will end up using a variety of tools loaded with features. Network diagrams are detailed and large. A decent graphics tablet with good response, a large clear display, and fine pen controls is a great match for the visual network engineer. Especially if you make your own stencils or do other kinds of artwork.
The Wacom tablet has another excellent feature: You can plug it into a Mac or Windows PC and it will “pause” Android and become a second screen! This is particularly handy when collaborating on Google Hangouts. You can share your second screen and draw on it with your pen. When you attach the tablet to your PC, your PC automatically mounts the tablet’s storage. So any drawings you create can be saved and later edited when you are back in “Android” mode.
Omnigraffle and Visio are standards for network diagramming. Neither of these is available on Android. However, there are several options that are just as good. The two highest quality tools are TouchDraw and Grapholite. TouchDraw by Elevenworks is a bit ahead of Grapholite in terms of feature development, and their software is available on iPad, Mac, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and Samsung Apps. They are constantly adding new features, and overall the tool looks and feels great. TouchDraw also supports assigning the volume buttons on your device to functions within the app. The only thing that’s missing, for me, is an isometric grid.
However, there is a well-known tool now available on Android that provides such a grid: Inkscape! With the better hardware, a decent graphics tablet can run this app with no problems. I drew the “referential space” diagram with Inkscape. Plus it comes with GIMP… and a super secret bonus for Android users: These two apps are actually running inside of a VM on your android, and you have terminal access to this VM. So you can install other packages on it as well using “apt-get.”
There is also SyncSpace. This is a great way to blast out a diagram while in a meeting with remote people. Just open the tool, start a new diagram, and share the URL for it. Anybody can see you draw live with their browser on a Mac or PC, and folks with their own tablets can actually draw in the same space as you at the same time.
Whiteboard and Markers
There are several whiteboard notebook products out on the marketplace, but one came recommended to me: Wipebook. I carry this around with me everywhere I travel now. What is it? It’s a notebook with whiteboard pages. One nice feature of the Wipebook is that you can get the “paper” with a grid on it. Also, your drawings generally won’t smudge. When you’re done with a drawing, you can simply erase it. Although, erasing doesn’t work so good with the erasing end of the Wipebook markers. I’ve found using a cloth with a little bit of whiteboard cleaner works great. You can pull the pages out too, in case you want to scan them. You might be wondering, what is the point? Well for some reason when you pick up those markers, you go straight into visualizing your thoughts. I think we’ve just been conditioned over time to associate dry-erase markers with a different mode of thinking.
Finally, if you have a home office, then do yourself a favor and spend the money on a large whiteboard and let it fill one of your walls. Buy the 10 marker box-set (colors are good). Sometimes standing and drawing on a large surface just makes everything better. If you have kids, they’ll love it. They’ll ruin your markers though because they don’t care about your feelings. That’s OK. You can celebrate the tears on their sad faces after you eat an entire pint of ice cream in front of them.
Whether you’re using an Android, iPad, or Windows tablet, a decent graphics tablet is a network engineer’s friend. There is plenty of great graphics tools available on all varieties of tablets, so finding one that you like and that works on the various platforms you use should not be too difficult. While technology is great, though, don’t forget how good it feels to draw with dry-erase markers. Whiteboard notebooks are light and easy to use and for larger spaces, nothing beats a big ol’ whiteboard.
[Fun fact: The number "j" was not considered a planet until they found seeds in it. Oh, the irony.]
[PS: Seriously though, the letter "j" was not considered an official part of the alphabet until the 19th century.]
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,052
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 773
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
Nov. 25, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 791
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Nov. 25, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,274
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Nov. 25, 2014 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,139
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Nov. 24, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,552
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
Nov. 24, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,435
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Nov. 24, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,561
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
Nov. 24, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,578
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
Nov. 23, 2014 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,767
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 23, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,709
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
Nov. 23, 2014 07:45 AM EST Reads: 1,717
ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,532
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
Nov. 22, 2014 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,458
Technology is enabling a new approach to collecting and using data. This approach, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (IoT), enables businesses to use real-time data from all sorts of things including machines, devices and sensors to make better decisions, improve customer service, and lower the risk in the creation of new revenue opportunities. In his General Session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Dave Wagstaff, Vice President and Chief Architect at BSQUARE Corporation, discuss the real benefits to focus on, how to understand the requirements of a successful solution, the flow of ...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,535
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
Nov. 21, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,458
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nov. 21, 2014 07:00 PM EST Reads: 1,386
Focused on this fast-growing market’s needs, Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (Nasdaq: VTSS), a leading provider of IC solutions to advance "Ethernet Everywhere" in Carrier, Enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) networks, introduced its IStaX™ software (VSC6815SDK), a robust protocol stack to simplify deployment and management of Industrial-IoT network applications such as Industrial Ethernet switching, surveillance, video distribution, LCD signage, intelligent sensors, and metering equipment. Leveraging technologies proven in the Carrier and Enterprise markets, IStaX is designed to work ac...
Nov. 20, 2014 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,441
C-Labs LLC, a leading provider of remote and mobile access for the Internet of Things (IoT), announced the appointment of John Traynor to the position of chief operating officer. Previously a strategic advisor to the firm, Mr. Traynor will now oversee sales, marketing, finance, and operations. Mr. Traynor is based out of the C-Labs office in Redmond, Washington. He reports to Chris Muench, Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Traynor brings valuable business leadership and technology industry expertise to C-Labs. With over 30 years' experience in the high-tech sector, John Traynor has held numerous...
Nov. 20, 2014 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,384
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades.
Nov. 20, 2014 01:00 PM EST Reads: 1,660