Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Destiny Bertucci, Liz McMillan, Jignesh Solanki, Daniel Gordon

Related Topics: SDN Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing

SDN Journal: Blog Feed Post

@CloudExpo | #Cloud User Experience and Workflow

How these things relate to one another in the context of networking

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
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.

Workflow
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.

Conclusion
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.

The post User Experience and Workflow appeared first on Plexxi.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Derick Winkworth

Derick Winkworth has been a developer, network engineer, and IT architect in various verticals throughout his career.He is currently a Product Manager at Plexxi, Inc where he focuses on workflow automation and product UX.

@CloudExpo Stories
"Storpool does only block-level storage so we do one thing extremely well. The growth in data is what drives the move to software-defined technologies in general and software-defined storage," explained Boyan Ivanov, CEO and co-founder at StorPool, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 16th Cloud Expo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Sometimes I write a blog just to formulate and organize a point of view, and I think it’s time that I pull together the bounty of excellent information about Machine Learning. This is a topic with which business leaders must become comfortable, especially tomorrow’s business leaders (tip for my next semester University of San Francisco business students!). Machine learning is a key capability that will help organizations drive optimization and monetization opportunities, and there have been some...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
As Marc Andreessen says software is eating the world. Everything is rapidly moving toward being software-defined – from our phones and cars through our washing machines to the datacenter. However, there are larger challenges when implementing software defined on a larger scale - when building software defined infrastructure. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Boyan Ivanov, CEO of StorPool, provided some practical insights on what, how and why when implementing "software-defined" in the datacent...
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the abili...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...