|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 BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
Dec. 20, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,270
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...
Dec. 20, 2014 12:30 PM EST Reads: 2,089
"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.
Dec. 20, 2014 12:00 PM EST Reads: 1,949
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...
Dec. 20, 2014 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,386
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
Dec. 20, 2014 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,286
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.
Dec. 20, 2014 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,242
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 20, 2014 08:00 AM EST Reads: 1,311
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
Dec. 20, 2014 07:00 AM EST Reads: 2,120
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, 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 widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,145
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 18, 2014 09:00 AM EST Reads: 1,357
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
Dec. 18, 2014 06:00 AM EST Reads: 895
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,386
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,443
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 17, 2014 08:00 PM EST Reads: 1,431
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Dec. 17, 2014 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,343
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Dec. 17, 2014 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,552
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Dec. 16, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,382
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Dec. 15, 2014 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,730
The 3rd International Internet of @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 its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Dec. 15, 2014 10:30 AM EST Reads: 6,909
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
Dec. 15, 2014 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,984