Useful Visualization

Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

Visualization of networks has been something that I’ve been watching for some time and have yet to see anything that looks really interesting.  Many vendors use the Tom Sawyer Software package.  Netviz had an interesting package but CA (which acquired them via their Concord acquisition) decided to shutdown their operation – it only generated $4M in revenue to a $1B operation.

Routing Visualizaton

The problem I’ve seen with visualization is that it doesn’t scale to networks that have more than about 50 or 100 routers.  Routers tend to be a harder problem than switches because the interconnections are more arbitrary. When you look at a national or global network that has 50 or more remote locations, there isalmost no way to display the routed network in a way that makes sense.  One approach is to use hyperbolic display technology, which makes the view look like that through a fish-eye lens.  A spin-out from Xerox Parc, called Inxight, has been developing some interesting visualizations, such as the one below.


Switching Visualization

Switched networks that rely on spanning tree can be more easily visualized because of the directed graph that results from the spanning tree protocol.  Sure, there may be some complications due to backup links, but switched networks tend to be much smaller in scope than routed networks, which makes the visualization problem much easier to solve.

If you’re aware of interesting, novel, or useful visualization techniques or products, please add a comment so I can check them out.



Re-posted with Permission 

NetCraftsmen would like to acknowledge Infoblox for their permission to re-post this article which originally appeared in the Applied Infrastructure blog under


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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.