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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Macs Fan Control 1.4.7.0 - Monitor and c...
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
MacFamilyTree 8.1.3 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
Boom 2 1.5.2 - $14.99
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.4.7.0 - Monitor and c...
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
Boom 2 1.5.2 - $14.99
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more
MacFamilyTree 8.1.3 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: modern, interactive, convenient and fast. Explore your family tree and your family history in a way generations of chroniclers before you would have loved.... Read more
WhiteCap 6.6 - Visual plug-in for iTunes...
WhiteCap is a sleek and sophisticated music visualizer and screensaver that features futuristic, wireframe mesh visuals with dynamic backgrounds and colors. WhiteCap contains thousands of visual... Read more
VOX 2.8.14 - Music player that supports...
VOX just sounds better! The beauty is in its simplicity, yet behind the minimal exterior lies a powerful music player with a ton of features and support for all audio formats you should ever need.... Read more
Paparazzi! 1.0b2 - Make user-defined siz...
Paparazzi! is a small utility for OS X that makes screenshots of webpages. This very simple tool takes screenshots of websites which do not fit on one screen. You specify the desired width, minimal... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.13 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more

Stickman Surfer rides in with the tide t...
Stickson is back and this time he's taken up yet another extreme sport - surfing. Stickman Surfer is out this Thursday on both iOS and Android, so if you've been following the other Stickman adventures, you might be interested in picking this one... | Read more »
Z-Exemplar (Games)
Z-Exemplar 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
5 dastardly difficult roguelikes like th...
Edmund McMillen's popular roguelike creation The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth has finally crawled onto mobile devices. It's a grotesque dual-stick shooter that tosses you into an endless, procedurally generated basement as you, the pitiable Isaac,... | Read more »
Last week on PocketGamer
Welcome to a weekly feature looking back on the past seven days of coverage on our sister website, PocketGamer. It’s taken a while for 2017 to really get going, at least when it comes to the world of portable gaming. Thank goodness, then, for... | Read more »
ROME: Total War - Barbarian Invasion set...
To the delight of mobile strategy fans, Feral Interactive released ROME: Total War just a few months ago. Now the game's expansion, Barbarian Invasion is marching onto iPads as a standalone release. [Read more] | Read more »
Yuri (Games)
Yuri 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's night. Yuri opens his eyes. He wakes up in a strange forest.The small, courageous explorer rides on his bed on casters in this... | Read more »
Space schmup Xenoraid launches on the Ap...
10Tons Xenoraid is out today on the App Store, bringing some high-speed space action to your mobile gadgets just in time for the weekend. The company's last premium title, another sci-fi game titled Neon Chrome, did quite well for itself, so... | Read more »
Star Wars: Force Arena Beginner's G...
Star Wars: Force Arena joined the populous ranks of Star Wars games on mobile today. It's a two-lane MOBA starring many familiar faces from George Lucas's famed sci-fi franchise. As with most games of this nature, Force Arena can be a little obtuse... | Read more »
Mysterium: The Board Game (Games)
Mysterium: The Board Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The official adaptation of the famous board game Mysterium! | Read more »
Sonny (Games)
Sonny 1.0.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.4 (iTunes) Description: Reimagined for iOS, cult-hit RPG Sonny brings challenging turn-based combat that requires strategy and mastery of each new skill to... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

CalcTape for macOS 1.2 Adding Machine App for...
schoettler Software has announced CalcTape 1.2, an update to their desktop calculator for macOS. When it comes to adding long columns of numbers, doing complex calculations or playing around with... Read more
New MacBooks And MacBook Pros WIth Kaby Lake...
Digitimes’ Joseph Tsai cites a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report that unnamed market watchers are predicting Apple MacBook shipments to grow 10 percent in 2017, and projecting 15... Read more
New 2016 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
New 15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock a...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Opera Announces Neon Concept Browser For Mac
Opera is inviting users to get a glimpse of what Opera for computers could become with its Opera Neon browser concept. Each Opera Neon feature is described as “an alternate reality” for the Opera... Read more
Tellini Releases TabView 3.0 Missing Tool fo...
Tellini has announced the release of TabView 3.0. TabView has been the first macOS viewer for PowerTab tablatures. PowerTab is a well-known and widely adopted tablature editor for Windows systems and... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Overstock.com has the 1.6GHz/128GB 13″ MacBook Air on sale for $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP Their price is the lowest... Read more
12-inch 32GB Space Gray iPad Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for $55 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $744.44 $55 off... Read more
9-inch 32GB Space Gray iPad Pro on sale for $...
B&H Photo has the 9.7″ 32GB Space Gray Apple iPad Pro on sale for $549 for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Read more
Apple iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP,...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2199 $100 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (Multi-L...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* & PC Desktop Support Technician...
Apple & PC Desktop Support Technician job in Stamford, CT We have immediate job openings for several Desktop Support Technicians with one of our most well-known Read more
*Apple* macOS Systems Integration Administra...
…most exceptional support available in the industry. SCI is seeking an Junior Apple macOS systems integration administrator that will be responsible for providing Read more
*Apple* Premier Retailer - Service Technicia...
DescriptionSimply Mac is the largest premier retailer for Apple products and solutions. At Simply Mac we are all Apple , all the time. Same products. Same prices. Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.