On Friday night, Phil and I went to Swinburne University’s Centre for Advanced Internet Architectures (CAIA) to act as guinea pigs for Warren’s PhD. Essentially, he is researching how to monitor and manage large networks by using a 3D game engine. The engine being used is Quake3, as it is open source and runs on all major platforms. L3DGEWorld is the name of the tool created. A video is available that shows how a port scan can show up in the 3D world.
The exciting part of the usability test consisted of five scenarios which Phil and I had to analyse and try to figure out what was going on. We flew around a virtual world which contained items in the world that represented laptops, routers, greynet hosts, and VOIP phones. As each device reported activity, the visual representation of it would change. More active devices would be larger, and spin faster, whereas broken devices would bounce to get attention. By flying around the virtual world, Phil and I were able to direct each other’s attention at things that looked out of place.
We had a beer and discussion about how this could be useful in the SQL world, and decided that it really comes into its own when you have a large amount of data to look at visually. For example, a graphical representation of sp_who2 would come in handy, so you could see exactly which processes were affecting the server. However, a simple list ordered correctly could give you the same information.
But it’s a lot more fun blowing away an offending process with a nailgun.