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
$100.40
Apple Inc.
-0.13
MSFT
$45.10
Microsoft Corpora
-0.23
GOOG
$583.91
Google Inc.
-2.95

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Chromium 36.0.1985.143 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.6.1691 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Apple Motion 5.1.2 - Create and customiz...
Apple Motion is designed for video editors, Motion 5 lets you customize Final Cut Pro titles, transitions, and effects. Or create your own dazzling animations in 2D or 3D space, with real-time... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.39 - 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
PopChar X 6.6 - Floating window shows av...
PopChar X helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to access any font's special characters. Expanded... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.2 - Install Mac ap...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
PDFpenPro 6.3.2 - Advanced PDF toolkit f...
PDFpenPro allows users to edit PDF's easily. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Create... Read more
PDFpen 6.3.2 - Edit and annotate PDFs wi...
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10 DP6 - Developer Prev...
Note: This is a Developer Preview. You must be a registered Apple Mac Developer to download this update. You can also sign up for the free OS X Beta Program to download and preview public beta... Read more
Flavours 1.1.15 - Create and apply theme...
Flavours is a Mac application that allow users to create, apply and share beautifully designed themes. Classy Give your Mac a gorgeous new look by applying delicious themes! Easy Unleash your... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

One Tap RPG Review
One Tap RPG Review By Campbell Bird on August 20th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DUNGEON SLIDERUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This casual arcade game introduces some very light rpg elements into its fantasy-themed pachinko... | Read more »
Goodbye Paywall – Table Tennis Touch Eli...
Goodbye Paywall – Table Tennis Touch Eliminates In-App Purchases Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 20th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Go to Bed – An Interview With Touchfight...
Touchfight Games is an exciting new indie studio that was co-formed between game journalist and author Nathan Meunier, artist Leonard Kenyon, and programmer Jon Kenyon. Their debut game Go To Bed will be released this fall, and with all the... | Read more »
Assault Vector Review
Assault Vector Review By Rob Thomas on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE STRATEGYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While this hex-based warp ride is fine in theory, Assault Vector is a bit too simple to be... | Read more »
Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer has Taken the App...
Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer has Taken the App Store by Storm Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad | Read more »
It Came from Canada: Galaxy Dash
With its use of well-established tropes like endless flying and sci-fi space shooting, the upcoming Galaxy Dash: Race to the Outer Run most likely won’t confound expectations. However, with its robust amount of opportunities for fun player... | Read more »
PromptSmart Review
PromptSmart Review By Jennifer Allen on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SNAPPY SPEECHGIVINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Offering you a teleprompter in your pocket, PromptSmart is immensely helpful for those who do... | Read more »
The Firm (Games)
The Firm 1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1 (iTunes) Description: *** LIMITED TIME LAUNCH OFFER -50% ! *** "The Firm is one of those games that looks so easy on the surface, but it's actually like a cerebral... | Read more »
They Need To Be Fed 3 (Games)
They Need To Be Fed 3 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: 360 degree gravity platforming is back! Run, jump, collect, avoid enemies and feed yourself to the monster at the... | Read more »
Who Wore it Best? Phantom Flower vs. And...
Who Wore it Best? takes a break from all the bloodshed to check out two decidedly tranquil and nature-loving puzzles games: Phantom Flower and And Then it Rained. [ Who Wore it Best? Phantom Flower vs. And Then it Rained is a post from... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Best Buy’s College Student Deals: $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs, $50 off iPad Airs and iPad minis, at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through September 6th. Anyone with a valid .... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP, free...
B&H Photo has three 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for Laptops... Read more
Razer Taipan Mouse For Gamers And Non-Gamers...
If you’re a serious gamer on either Mac or Windows PCs, a serious gaming mouse is a necessity for first-tier performance. However, even if like me you’re not much of a gamer, there’s still a strong... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1899,...
Adorama has the new 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1899 including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Mid-Size Tablet Shootout Posted: iPad mini wi...
I ‘m curious about how many iPads Apple is actually selling these days. It’s been widely rumored and anticipated that new models with A8 SoCs, 2 GB of RAM, 8 megapixel cameras, and fingerprint... Read more
The 15 Biggest iPad Air Problems And How To A...
What’s this? Fifteen “biggest” problems with the iPad Air? Does that mean there are a lot of smaller problems as well? Say it isn’t so! My old iPad 2 has manifested no hardware problems in three... Read more
TYLT Syncable-Duo, 2-in-1 USB Cable With Appl...
TYLT has introduced the Syncable-Duo, a universal cable solution for charging and syncing data to smartphones and tablets. The Syncable-Duo eliminates the need for multiple cables by incorporating... Read more
Save up to $140 off MSRP with Apple refurbish...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549, save $50
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Chromebooks Are Actually Sometimes A Better C...
Mac360′s Kate MacKenzie notes that when Steve Jobs announced the post-PC era, he was assuming that the dominant post-PC device would be the iPad he was unveiling, or another Apple product like the... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Being a Business Manager at an Apple Store means you're the catalyst for businesses to discover and leverage the power, ease, and flexibility of Apple Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's your job, as a Store Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.