Over the years of working with different OSS products I’ve noticed two distinct approaches to building the data models that underpin OSS functionality. The two options are:
- Network specific data model
- Generic data model
The first approach sees the vendor implement a different data structure for each different network type (eg Ethernet, transmission, etc). The second has a network-agnostic approach that by default is also agnostic of equipment manufacturers. The second approach is built on the assumption that any network type can be broken down into a concept of nodes (routers, switches, muxes, modems, etc) and arcs (cables, circuits, virtual circuits, eLANS, etc).
Each approach has pros and cons.
The network specific approach supports the ability to create very specific fields to suit any requirement of that network type. It also allows very network-specific business rules and connectivity rules to be built into it. The two limitations I’ve noticed is that there is so much extra complexity to maintain but more importantly, if you want to create generic visualisation or report tools, you have to query many more tables and find a way to marry all the business and connectivity rules together.
I personally prefer the generic data model for its elegance (potentially) and flexibility (in theory you can build any network type into the application without having to change the code). There are three main downsides that I’ve noticed.
Firstly, the vendor’s product team must work hard to discover the essence of communications networks, building a data model that supports any possible type of current or future network. Secondly, the team configuring a generic OSS model must be able to think laterally to map any network situation to the generic data model. Lastly, the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always cater for everything a new network can throw at it, requiring changes to a data model that must also retrofit into the way previous network types are configuredRead the Passionate About OSS Blog for more or Subscribe to the Passionate About OSS Blog by Email