|By Derick Winkworth||
|August 13, 2014 09:00 AM EDT||
We’ve spent some cycles talking about user experience and workflow in previous articles. So in this post, we’re going to explore how these things relate to one another in the context of networking. We’ll talk a little about each separately, then we’ll bring it together in the end.
User Experience (UX), in networking is a tricky thing. It’s not just about the direct user interaction of a particular feature or of a particular product. Over at Packet Pushers, we see many blog entries reviewing network products. Time and time again, they show us that UX encompasses something much broader: It’s the experience of how well the vendor delivers the product, not just the product itself. Vendors must consider the user’s experience from the first interactions with the company, to the unboxing of the product, the ease of finding and consuming relevant documentation, through the actual support process.
Network Engineers expect that there will be problems. However, problems frequently mean one-offs and exceptions until an appropriate fix surfaces. If we can never find an answer in documentation, this can be frustrating. Especially if we are told by support that it is a well known issue. If it’s well known, then produce some documentation with workarounds! If there is an associated bug, put a bug ID in the docs. If possible, put a target release for an upcoming fix, too. Easy to find, relevant documentation can vastly improve the experience of the product, even when dealing with bugs.
Let’s consider the UX of support. On average, your users frequently know more about networking than you do. Customers have poured a significant amount of their time into memorizing piles and piles of facts about how every tiny thing in networking should work. Standards are tricky thing, too. If you are going to tell the customer that your product is “behaving according to standards” then you better be prepared to back that up. You also should be prepared to back down from that argument as well. There are many standards, and portions of standards, that are not followed by any vendor or community in practice. Sometimes standards are not clear or they are contradictory. In these cases, over time, implementations have evolved a certain way to deal with these inconsistencies in order to ensure interoperability. It is incumbent upon the vendor to adjust as required in these situations. Remember the Robustness Principle in RFC 1122 (section 1.2.2): “Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.”
The most important part here is that the user’s experience of the company is more important than just the product alone. Vendors should understand all points of interaction with the customer from sales, to documentation, the product user interface, to support, should be crafted relative to the workflow of their customer. Focus less on features, and more on solving problems.
We’ve spent some time, in particular, talking about workflow here on the Plexxi blog site. The first, and key, take away here is that Network Engineering is workflow dominated. Everything we do ends up being a series of steps, and those steps don’t always involve direct interaction with the product. The second takeaway is that workflows are dynamic. As previously discussed, referential space in networking is enormously complicated. Exactly where a network engineer starts their workflow in referential space, and what path they will end up traversing, is highly dependent on what they are doing and what they stumble across while they are working.
When customers are evaluating a product, what they need to understand is how the product solves some difficult problem for them, and this means the vendor must have a solid understanding of where their product fits in referential space. What difficult, error-prone, risk-heavy, or tedious path in this space are you solving? It’s important to know that even if you are solving a problem well, you are at the same time altering the landscape of this space. This is very important for the customer. This is what that drives them to want to understand the classic “packet-walkthrough”, for instance. If you are telling them “You won’t need to configure VLANs anymore” then you should be able to tangibly show them what they will be doing.
Ambiguity is bad. To the customer, ambiguity means an investment in time and and effort to understand and operate the product.
Coming out of the SDN hype-cycle, we have learned many things (I hope). The most important thing is that networking is really complicated. We can’t just make it go away. The most successful products have simply moved the complexity around, and they do this with little understanding of what network engineers do.
When vendors truly understand how user experience intersects with the complex space that network workflows happen in, then they can change how they build and deliver network products in innovative ways. The way to do this is by partnering with network engineers and their teams, and to really listen to how they work and the problems they actually have. Every part of the user experience should be tailored to make network engineers more effective.
In short, network engineers make better partners than they do targets. Understanding our customers means understanding networks in context. This is how we move networking forward.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Apr. 30, 2016 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 688
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 577
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,044
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 990
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,663
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Apr. 30, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,034
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
Apr. 30, 2016 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 723
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 30, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,700
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Apr. 30, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,447
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Apr. 30, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 656
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Apr. 30, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,523
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Apr. 30, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,692
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Apr. 30, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,282
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Apr. 30, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,462
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Apr. 30, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 881
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Apr. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 911
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Apr. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 877
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
Apr. 30, 2016 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 861
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Apr. 30, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 700
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
Apr. 30, 2016 09:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,553