TweetFollow Us on Twitter

May 00 NetManage

Volume Number: 16 (2000)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Network Management

Seybold

By John C. Welch

A Network Administrator's Eye View of Seybold Boston

Overview

Seybold is an interesting show for a network administrator. Considering the main focus of the show is publishing and graphics, both online and print, initially it seems that there is not much for the IS-type other than free demos and other souvenirs. But, also consider that many of the products shown at Seybold are designed to be on a network, or function as servers, and an admin's need to be there is suddenly a little more obvious. I had two main purposes at Seybold Boston 2000. The first was to see how many vendors were really making products that fit well into a network, as opposed to those that merely work on one. The second was to look for products that would make my life as an admin, and by extension the professional lives of you readers easier in some way.

Seybold in General

Comparing Seybold to MacWorld, the most obvious difference is size. Seybold tends to be much smaller, but this is to be expected, it's a more focused conference. Another difference is in the booth personnel. I found much more of a delay at Seybold in getting the technical experts for a company or booth than at MacWorld. In one case, getting my question answered required finding a different company on a different floor. This gets tiring quickly, literally as well as figuratively. Another issue for first - time Seybold attendees is floor organization. Seybold is smaller, but, (to me at least), seems not as well organized as MacWorld, and I find that keeping the program is an absolute necessity to find specific booths without walking both floors.

Other than those few admittedly picayune issues, Seybold is like any other trade show, big, colorful, and loud. There are a good number of vendors there, and if it deals with publishing in any remote way, it's probably at Seybold. Much has been made of Apple's absence from this year's Seybold Boston. From a floor point of view, it wasn't as big a deal as some made it out to be. The space that Apple would have used was taken over by other vendors quite well, and Adobe seemed to be pleased with its undisputed status as the Big Vendor of the show.

Network Support

There are a lot of servers, and network enabled products at Seybold. From print servers to document control, to security, the publishing industry is well-networked. But this is only from the user viewpoint. As an administrator, I was consistently disappointed in the almost total lack of administrative support in these server products. With few exceptions, when I would ask, "How does the server let me, the administrator, know that it is having a problem?", there would be a few minutes of huddled discussion, and then I would get variations of "The users will call you", or "It's very reliable, that shouldn't be a problem". Well, unfortunately, waiting for someone to notice a critical piece of software is no longer functional is not a option in a networked environment. Especially in the case of multiple sites, waiting for user input can delay problem resolution by hours, and days.

One of the rods that IS managers get applied to their backs is the proactive rod. It is no longer enough to respond to trouble reports. Nowadays, we need to be notified of problems the very microsecond it occurs. Whether via SNMP1 or email, or instant message, network administrators need to know before the user that a server is down. As well, if a given piece of hardware is running multiple server applications, administrators need to know that server application A is dead, but B and C are fine. These are not minor issues to administrators, but they are almost unknown to many of these vendors.

This is not to say that none of the vendors are aware of this. Quite a few are at least including email notification abilities of errors. This is a good start, but I would still push for SNMP inclusion. The reason is, SNMP operates at a lower level than the application. Therefore, it can catch errors that the application may be unaware of, or take a while to notice. As well, via the trap mechanism, you can set up the app to notify a given management server of an error, and the server can then decide if it needs to notify anyone based on the error severity. The SNMP standard is well documented, and used by many vendors including Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, and Sun, as a way of improving the network fit of their products. I would close this section by pointing out that if I have a choice between two similar server/networkable applications, of similar quality and feature set, but one has good error notification support, and the other doesn't, the one that makes my job easier will win, even at a substantially higher cost.

Products of Note

Again, although most of Seybold is not specifically targeted to the network administrator, there were some products that made me perk up a little. The first one isn't a product as much as it is a service. Sprockets, <http://www.sprockets.com> is a company providing online project management services. The service is based on Oracle, and uses a per project and a traffic pricing model for charges. What caught my eye about sprockets though, was how much potential it has. By basing charges on bandwidth utilization, instead of the number of users, Sprockets allows a project to be limited by use, instead of users. For a multi-company/multi-national project, since there is no physical location to a Sprocket - based project, other than the Web, the traditional problems of distribution and allocation of resources are greatly reduced, possibly eliminated. There is also less reliance on a particular piece of equipment or location, as the Sprockets site handles storage and maintenance. Since Sprockets is based on Oracle on Solaris, not only is it scalable to as high a degree as you need, but it is also highly flexible, and can handle almost any user requirements. Interviews with the Sprockets staff also showed that they are very aware of security issues, and understand the need to be proactive in protecting user data. They also went out of their way to inform me that they are sensitive to the confidentiality of user data, and under no circumstances would they use that data as a marketing tool. Considering the confidentiality debacles that have arisen on other web sites, this is an excellent attitude. I see Sprockets as being on the leading edge of what I call RSPs, or Resource Solution Providers. They really aren't providing you with an application, but rather with the infrastructure and resources you need to use the applications and capabilities you already have. To my mind, this is more along the lines of what the Web should be.

Another product that impressed me was MassTransit, from Group Logic Inc., <http://www.grouplogic.com>. MassTransit is basically a combination of intelligent file routing and AppleScript Folder Actions. The whole purpose of MassTransit is to make getting files from a to z, with all stops in between a process with intelligence behind it, rather than relying on users to manually do it. The MassTransit server, creates drop folders that users can mount on their desktops as remote drives. Files placed in that folder are then acted on by a number of rules, based on the needs for the task that file relates to. What makes this better than folder actions is two - fold. First off, the folder can be closed, and still have intelligence behind it, unlike folder actions that require the folder to be open to function. This is due to the rules being processed on the server, not the end station(s). Secondly, the actions are a combination of choices from a list and AppleScript, rather than solely AppleScript like Folder Actions are. Since the rules are processed on the server, you only need to create them once, rather than replicating AppleScripts to possibly hundreds of machines. This also means the client machines don't need to be acting as servers, so your resource usage is more efficient. By creating canned actions, such as "Email on copy error", "Email files from x to z", and combining them with AppleScripts, you get quick initial functionality with as much flexibility as you would ever need. For companies trying to deal with the problems of document routing and approval, MassTransit is a worthwhile look.

There were also many other useful admin products, and trend towards making security a part of document control, especially with Acrobat PDFs that should make an administrator quite happy.

Conclusion

As with any other show, Seybold is exactly as useful as you make it. Even though it sometimes took longer than I would have liked, I was always able to get the answers I needed. Unfortunately, the publishing industry is only just starting to comprehend the need for communicating status in ways that don't involve having users on the phone screaming at tech support. I am hoping that next year, Seybold Boston will have more products that are administratively as friendly as they are user friendly.


John Welch <jwelch@aer.com> is the Mac and PC Administrator for AER Inc., a weather and atmospheric science company in Cambridge, Mass. He has over fifteen years of experience at making computers work. His specialties are figuring out ways to make the Mac do what nobody thinks it can, and showing that the Mac is the superior administrative platform.

 
AAPL
$97.19
Apple Inc.
+2.47
MSFT
$44.87
Microsoft Corpora
+0.04
GOOG
$595.98
Google Inc.
+1.24

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Firefox 31.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals... Read more
Little Snitch 3.3.3 - Alerts you to outg...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activityAs soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Thunderbird 31.0 - Email client from Moz...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
Together 3.2 - Store and organize all of...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.5 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
iExplorer 3.4 - View and transfer all th...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
Airmail 1.4 - Powerful, minimal email cl...
Airmail is a powerful, minimal mail client.It was designed to retain the same experience with a single or multiple accounts and provide a quick, modern and easy-to-use user experience. Airmail... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.1.12 - Monitor and co...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.37 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.9 - Fo...
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update is recommended for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. This update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected and fixes a rare issue... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Together for iOS (Productivity)
Together for iOS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Productivity Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Together is an app for keeping things in one place. Notes, documents, images, movies, sounds, web pages and bookmarks... | Read more »
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition (Game...
The Phantom PI Mission Apparition 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Release sale! 50% off for a limited time! ** The Phantom PI Mission Apparition is a spooky, puzzly, rock’... | Read more »
The Great Prank War (Games)
The Great Prank War 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Help Mordecai, Rigby, Muscle Man and Skips take the park back from Gene and his goons with a plethora of prank-related... | Read more »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Games)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Download the all new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Official Movie Game! | Read more »
Dream Revenant (Games)
Dream Revenant 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: EXCLUSIVE LAUNCH PRICE ! Dream Revenant is at $1.99 for a limited time ! | Read more »
Traps n' Gemstones (Games)
Traps n' Gemstones 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: LAUNCH SALE! 40% off, JULY ONLY! TRAPS N' GEMSTONES is an adventurous platform game, among gamers typically known as the... | Read more »
Soccer Physics (Games)
Soccer Physics 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: One-button soccer game! So dumb it's fun. "Soccer Physics is probably the funniest football game you'll play on iOS" —... | Read more »
Ex-Angry Birds Developers Release Monsu...
Ex-Angry Birds Developers Release Monsu Teaser Trailer Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Finnish developer Boomlagoon has released a teaser trailer of their forthcoming side-scrolling action platformer, | Read more »
Dragons: Rise of Berk – Tips, Tricks, an...
Things have changed in Berk, the fantasy Viking village of DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon series. Dragons and Vikings, once mortal enemies, now must learn to live together in peace. Dragons: Rise of Berk lets players manage dragon-Viking... | Read more »
Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:...
Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Rooftop Run Is Currently Free Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

What Should Apple’s Next MacBook Priority Be;...
Stabley Times’ Phil Moore says that after expanding its iMac lineup with a new low end model, Apple’s next Mac hardware decision will be how it wants to approach expanding its MacBook lineup as well... Read more
ArtRage For iPhone Painting App Free During C...
ArtRage for iPhone is currently being offered for free (regularly $1.99) during Comic-Con San Diego #SDCC, July 24-27, in celebration of the upcoming ArtRage 4.5 and other 64-bit versions of the... Read more
With The Apple/IBM Alliance, Is The iPad Now...
Almost since the iPad was rolled out in 2010, and especially after Apple made a 128 GB storage configuration available in 2012, there’s been debate over whether the iPad is a serious tool for... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale starting at $799, free s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display (refurbished) a...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ Thunderbolt Displays available for $799 including free shipping. That’s $200 off the cost of new models. Read more
WaterField Designs Unveils Cycling Ride Pouch...
High end computer case and bag maker WaterField Designs of San Francisco now enters the cycling market with the introduction of the Cycling Ride Pouch – an upscale toolkit with a scratch-free iPhone... Read more
Kingston Digital Ships Large Capacity Near 1T...
Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc.,has announced its latest addition to the SSDNow V300 series, the V310. The Kingston SSDNow V310 solid-state... Read more
Apple’s Fiscal Third Quarter Results; Record...
Apple has announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 third quarter ended June 28, 2014, racking up quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Retina on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1829 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
Senior Interaction Designer, *Apple* Online...
**Job Summary** Apple is looking for a hands on Senior…will be a key player in designing for the Apple Online Store. The ideal designer will have a Read more
*Apple* Sales Chat Rep - Apple (United State...
…is looking for motivated, outgoing, and tech savvy individuals who want to offer Apple Customers an unparalleled customer experience over chat. At Apple , we believe Read more
Mac Expert - *Apple* Online Store Mexico -...
…MUST be fluent in English and Spanish to be considered for this position At Apple , we believe that hard work, a fun environment, creativity and innovation fuel the Read more
*Apple* Industrial Design CAD Sculptor - App...
**Job Summary** The Apple Industrial Design team is looking for a CAD sculptor/Digital 3D modeler to create high quality CAD models used in the industrial design process Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.