Five essential Mac tools for enterprise net admins

CCIE and Mac enthusiast Brandon Carroll lists some go-to apps for network administrators who use a Mac.

I've been an avid Mac user for a number of years now. I don't know what it is that makes the Mac so appealing to me, but I know it's tightly related to the quality and usefulness of the applications I own — like these must-have tools for those who use a Mac but live in the Cisco World.

Note: This list is based on an entry in our Apple in the Enterprise blog.

1: ZOC6 (Emtec)

ZOC6 is a fantastic terminal application that supports SSH, Telnet, SCP, and Direct Console access. Since the Mac doesn't have a serial port, and I need access to the console port of my routers and firewalls, I went with a Keyspan USB adapter so I can connect a console cable to my Mac. Then I use ZOC6 to connect to the CLI. Sure, you can use screen, but it's limited in its features. And ZOC6 lets you record your actions and save them as a script as well. One other thing I love about ZOC6 is that it uses colored tabs to indicate different connections. I like to be able to quickly identify my favorite connections, and the color coding helps me to do that.

2: iTerm (SourceForge)

I had to list iTerm here because I like it a lot and I use it frequently. It's not my ideal terminal application; however, it is solid and gets the job done. It works well for telnet and ssh connections, as well as for your standard shell workflows, but it doesn't have an easy serial connection capability that I have found, other than screen.

3: ipcalc (Darwinports)

ipcalc is one of those little apps that are just handy. Basically, what you have here is a subnet calculator that hides itself well. I am on the command line most of the time anyhow, so I appreciate simple command-line utilities like this. Give it an address and mask and it will break down the address, netmask, wildcard mask (useful in creating ACLs), and the network address, first host, last host, and broadcast address. Top it off with a decimal and binary representation of both, and you have everything you were supposed to learn as an CCNA right in front of your eyes.

4: Wireshark (Wireshark.org)

It's a no-brainer that Wireshark makes my list. I've used Wireshark since back in the "Ethereal" days, and I can't go without it. If you are doing something like Flexible Packet Matching [FPM] on a router or even configuring the Modular Policy Framework [MPF] on an ASA, Wireshark is your best friend. If you don't have it, what are you using currently?

5: OmniGraffle (Omni Group)

OmniGraffle is the best alternative to Visio for the Mac. In fact, it's one of the only ones I've found. It's very powerful and even has an iPad version. If you have to create network diagrams this is the app for you.

About Brandon Carroll

Brandon Carroll has been in the industry since the late 90s specializing in data networking and network security in the enterprise and data center. Brandon holds the CCIE in security and is a published author in network security.

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