Inventory and workflow management systems

Justin M. Streiner streiner at cluebyfour.org
Mon May 20 15:37:51 UTC 2013


On Mon, 20 May 2013, Christopher Morrow wrote:

>> I haven't looked lately to see what's out there, but I'd imagine there *has*
>> to be something.
>
> I bet this is a market/cost thing... there are ~100 people who want
> this? it's going to take a few million in SWE resources to build, and
> probably recovery of that expense is going to be difficult :(

True, and would explain why the systems I've seen tend to be very 
expensive.

I have taken a look at netdot from UOregon, and it looks like it has lots 
of nice features and an active development community.  The main thing 
there is I need to really sit down and see how painful modifying the 
default DB schema will be to capture some of the fiber plant data I need, 
and preventing that all from getting blown away by the next cycle of 
software upgrades.  Tying it into some other back-end systems we already 
have is another challenge that I really haven't had time to dig into yet.

>> I can understand why many telcos ended up building their own systems,
>> because many of them use(d) different or home-grown
>> provisioning/billing/plant management/trouble ticketing systems, and
>> different back-end systems in general, making a one-size-fits-all solution
>> tough to do.
>
> this MOSTLY gets to the ins/outs formats, right? 'billing system at
> $TELCO requires CSV output' (or something) and telco folk don't always
> like to think about 'standards'.

That, and there can belots of general compatibility issues.  Something 
like:

The provisioning system is running on an old VAX mainframe, and $PROGRAM 
expects CSV with CR-LF, rather than just CR, but the billing system is 
built on a DB2 database on an IBM mainframe and doesn't know how to 
output the data in an acceptable format.  A lot of it is probably 
centered around software engineering/DBA tasks, often requiring people 
with lots of institutional/legacy knowledge to get the appropriate pieces 
talking together correctly.  In some cases, those people are no longer 
around, and consultants with the right skills (and often a pretty hefty 
hourly rate) need to be brought in.

I would imagine that's why some of the telcos that went on acquision 
binges during the dot-com boom (coughcoughworldcom ;) ) never fully 
integrated the back-end systems of those acquired telcos into their own, 
even though it does/did make like more painful for their customers and 
their own ops people.  Example: "Oh wait... that's an MFS circuit.  I 
need to get into a different system to look at that..."

jms



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