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Top 50 Websites for IT Heads

Surf easier for online networking resources with our 50 choice pickings from the Web. by David Chin & Ong Boon Kiat

Although it involves just a few mouse-clicks, surfing for online information is a headache in itself there are too many bad pickings among the good. Good search engines like Goggle may help simplify the hunt, but it still throws up more bad than good links.

To help narrow down your list, we've done the dirty work of trawling the Web, and short listed 50 websites which we think are worthy of repeated visits by CIOs/ CTOs and network managers alike.

One key criterion for our picks, besides plumbing for sound content quality, was to choose websites that are healthy and growing healthily. Hence, the online resources listed below represent websites that update, trim, and archive their pickings systematically, and have proven reliable since its existence. In fact, all of them are our personal bookmarks.

To cut to the chase, here are our 50 faves in no particular order of merit (drum roll please...):


General, network management
Part of a larger website www.earthweb.com, this site lives up to its name. It covers practical tips on a wide range of topics like Internet sharing, security and troubleshooting. There are "how to's" on the setting up of WEP security, configuring file sharing in Windows XP, getting applications to work across firewalls and more. Also has good reviews, tool resources and a discussion forum. Traffic estimate: an impressive 1.5 million page views/ month, among them 150,000 unique.


General, network management
No, this site has nothing to do with storage. SANS here stands for System Administration, Networking, and Security. The SAN Institute is a co-operative community where more than 96,000 network and system administrators and security professionals share solutions on network-related issues.


General, protocol development
This is the Web front for The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a neutral body that represents a global community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers that seek to drive Internet protocols and standards. The technical development is organized into working groups within specific areas like security, routing, transport, etc.


General, Ethernet
This is the official site of the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance which is pushing for standards and protocols that will enable the adoption of higher speed Ethernet networks, particularly in enterprise and carrier infrastructure backbones. A comprehensive resource for all things Ethernet.

Wireless networking
Home of the Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) standard, created by the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). Wi-Fi certification ensures interoperability between equipment (base stations, PC cards, etc.) designed according to the IEEE 802.11 protocol. There is extensive information of Wi-Fi technology, products, vendors and protocol updates.


Wireless networking
If you are interested in Bluetooth, which is still trying to keep interest levels up while waiting for deployment levels to hit critical mass, this is the resource to tap. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) explains the technology, covers the news, and supports developers for this short-range wireless technology.


Enterprise security
This security portal is run by an international security firm known for tracking computer hackers. Good place to find hack news, security downloads and links. There are also forums and a useful "how-to" link called Fight-Back that tells you where to start and how to counter different aspects of a security breach. The site's tagline says it all: "Hackers know the weaknesses in your system. Shouldn't you?"


Enterprise security
This is a security administrator's playground. Both free and fee-based services are available here. Fee-based services include an attack alert service that uses a global network of servers that help detect attack activity and warn subscribers. A good drill down resource for current security issues in specific areas such as Windows, Unix, IDS, and viruses.


Enterprise security
This one is run by a hacker. Fortunately, the website eschews the dark side of hacking, while advocating the open sharing of information. In addition, this is also the birth-site of nmap, a famous (and free) security scanning tool. It also catalogues security holes by platform and date and compiles a real-time (and full disclosure) exploit list.


Enterprise security
TruSecure is a security solutions integrator that incorporates the ICSA Labs division, a well known certification for firewalls, antivirus and IPSec VPNs. The site also links to Information Security Magazine, a TruSecure publication which drills deep into current security issues, as well as the NT Bugtraq resource for up-to-date information on Microsoft-related security issues.


Storage networking
The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) offers an extensive resource of white papers and technical information on SANs and NAS. The organization brings together vendors, integrators, service providers, and professionals in the storage industry in order to address issues such as testing, standards, certification and development.


Storage networking
Representing the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA), the body consists of industry professionals in the mass storage arena. More than an information source, the FCIA also promotes Fibre Channel interoperability standards.


Network management
Resources on network management are hard to come by, so this one is a rarity. However, it's from an analyst company dedicated to network management software and services, meaning that much of the information is by subscription. There is good information (free abstracts) here on root cause and event analysis, service level management, network performance management, and outsourcing, etc.


Network cabling
One of the best online network cabling resources, this site has links to two additional online resources: Cabling Installation and Maintenance Online (www.omeda.com/cim) and Lightwave Online (lw.pennnet.com/home.cfm) for information on fiber optics and telecommunications equipment.


Focuses on current technology for multimedia creation and streaming. If you are interested in recorded or live Web broadcasts, Flash movies, Synchronized Multimedia, or the latest scalable vector animations, then this is the site to surf.


Security certification
If you are interested in CISSP certification, one of the most prestigious of all security certifications, this is a great online study aid to help you prepare. A companion site to www.cissp.com.


Telecoms, broadband
This site is not about DSL alone, it encompasses other broadband technologies like ISDN and leased-lines. In terms of content, the site features an extensive collection of technical articles, and the forums are hot you can get a quick and relevant reply for broadband problems and queries. A popular site, with traffic estimate of 10 million page views/month.


Software development
O'Reilly is famous for its books on networking, programming, open source, etc. Its official website is a must-bookmark link for anyone serious about developing on open source and other emerging technologies such as new operating systems and software languages. In addition to in-depth technical information, the site hosts open development forums. Of particular interest is linux.oreillynet.com, which is one of the most comprehensive Linux resource we've seen on the Web.


Metasearch engine
Metasearching is a great notion that is seldom executed well. Most metasearch engines suffer from two ailments: slow return of results, and inaccurate ranking of returned pages.

Query Server is still slow, but at least it returned accurate and smartly-ranked results. Compared to other metasearch engines, Query Server has a relatively clean interface. It searches from ten databases which includes Yahoo, AOL, Northern Light and MSN.


Search engine, directory
Our favorite search engine has managed to keep an uncluttered look despite recent additions of new features, like directory listing. Blazingly quick, Google provides a no-frills search engine that is perhaps best suited for broad searches. Check out the directory listings for "hacker". A potent collection of Web links for wannabe hackers.


This is an online Linux resource for information on embedded-Linux applications. In addition to news on the topic, the site also features polls, products and an open forum for sharing embedded-Linux expertise.


Software development
Whether thriving or struggling, one still needs a Web strategy.

The challenge here lies in managing the variety of people involved in Internet endeavors, including designers, CTOs, journalists, and developers versed in different programming languages. Webtechniques.com presents a well balanced resource site for education, research and development.


Software development
A site for all things beta. For the bold and the foolhardy, this site offers a preview of lots of yet-to-be released software products.


IP networking
Asia Pacific Network Information Centre is one of the three Internet registries in the world. It facilitates Internet domain allocation and registration services and is supported by national Internet registries and ISPs. If you want to learn more about IP-based technologies, visit this site for white papers and tech-guides.

Topics include IPv4, IPv6, Autonomous System number (ASN), APNIC Whois Database objects and Reverse DNS delegations.


LAN/WAN basics
One for the whimsy: a tongue-in-cheek networking tutorial covering basic LAN switching and IP issues associated with Cisco hardware. While the content is serious, the presentation is not. If you are into Hollywood movies, you'll enjoy this.


Technology news
Get daily-updated Asian and global networking news. The site also features four magazine resources from the CMP Asia stable: Asia Computer Weekly (ACW), Intelligent Enterprise, tele.com and Network Computing Asia. Also links to resources from parent

website www.cmp.com and associated website www.techweb.com including the excellent 20,000 term-strong TechEncyclopedia (www.techweb.com/encyclopedia).


General, definitions
A fabulous encyclopedia resource for all things computing, this website lets you search from over 2000 definitions. Also visit its parent website www.techtarget.com, a technology resource portal that provides focused search on various online databases. Think of it as a technology-specific metasearch portal. TechTarget is divided into five major directories: platforms, networking, applications, development and core technologies. For networking resources and Web links, try searchnetworking.techtarget.com.


General IT resource
A good technology search engine that searches from a mix of vendor and news websites. Particularly useful if you are looking for resources relating to network cabling, telecommunications and network management. Also a good jump site to other networking resources online.


If you ever felt clueless about infrastructure technologies like Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), Active Directory, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), and other cryptic acronyms, then this is a good site to find out more. A great resource for IT managers who want to get a hand on topics for new project proposals.


Enterprise security
The CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) is a center of Internet security expertise at the Software Engineering Institute operated by Carnegie Mellon University. You'll find information on Internet security vulnerabilities, security advisories and incident reports.


Are you a budding network professional raring to embark on Cisco or Microsoft Windows professional networking courses? Then this website has plenty to offer including certification-related articles, links, demo test papers and related conference information.


Software development
Version Tracker lists new firmware and software releases that are updated hourly. Almost all downloads have user ratings and feedback so you can see if there are any bug issues before you install a fix. There is even a desktop update utility called TechTracker that puts version monitoring on your desktop. There is also a marketplace link where you can get lowest price estimates on IT products and services.


The official website of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has good backgrounders on a wide range of telecommunication technologies like UMTS, as well as latest ITU reports and news.


Windows security
The Security Administrator is a good resource for Windows system administrators. Check out the forum pages for discussions on current Windows-related security issues provided by fellow experts.


Enterprise security, certification
A website aimed at promoting certified information systems security professional (CISSP) certification, it has a useful collection of related-Web links and resources. Chatrooms and discussion forums are also provided. There are also links to online transcripts to popular security books. You can also check its companion website at www.cccure.org.


Networking standards
Another must-have for system administrators, this site packs information on a comprehensive list of legacy and new networking and communications protocols, including ATM, MPLS, AppleTalk, Frame Relay, DECnet, X.25, WAP, UMTS and more.

More websites

We recommend the sites below if you are trawling for technology news. We've also listed three major vendor sites (Sun, Microsoft and Cisco ) because they provide extensive, and probably authoritative coverage on their respective solutions. Check these out:


David Chin & Ong Boon Kiat write for Network Computing - Asian Edition. Please send your feedback to editor@networkmagazineindia.com



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