To link or not to link your OSS. That is the question

The first OSS project I worked on had a full-suite, single vendor solution. All products within the suite were integrated into a single database and that allowed their product developers to introduce a lot of cross-linking. That has its strengths and weaknesses.

The second OSS suite I worked with came from one of the world’s largest network vendors and integrators. Their suite primarily consisted of third-party products that they integrated together for the customer. It was (arguably) a best-of-breed all implemented as a single solution, but since the products were disparate, there was very little cross-linking. This approach also has strengths and weaknesses.

I’d become so used to the massive data migration and cross-referencing exercise required by the first OSS that I was stunned by the lack of time allocated by the second vendor for their data migration activities. The first took months and a significant level of expertise. The second took days and only required fairly simple data sets. That’s a plus for the second OSS.

However, the second OSS was severely lacking in cross-domain data, which impacted the richness of insight that could be easily unlocked.

Let me give an example to give better context.

We know that a trouble ticketing system is responsible for managing the tracking, reporting and resolution of problems in a network operator’s network. This could be as simple as a repository for storing a problem identifier and a list of notes performed to resolve the problem. There’s almost no cross-linking required.

A more referential ticketing system might have links to:

  • Alarm management – to show the events linked to the problem
  • Inventory management – to show the impacted resources (or possibly impacted)
  • Service management – to show the services impacted
  • Customer management – to show the customers impacted and possibly the related customer interactions
  • Spares management – to show the life-cycle of physical resources impacted
  • Workforce management – to manage the people / teams performing restorative actions
  • etc

The referential ticketing system gives far richer information, obviously, but you have to trade that off against the amount of integration and data maintenance that needs to go into supporting it. The question to ask is what level of linking is justifiable from a cost-benefit perspective.

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2 thoughts on “To link or not to link your OSS. That is the question

  1. In theory you can have your cake and eat it too with a microservices architecture like TM Forum’s ODA. With industry standard REST APIs exposing Catalogue/Inventory capabilities of Resource, Service, Customer and Enterprise domains the data is linked and available.

    At this point the comparison of monolithic versus component aggregation becomes one of performance optimization. The former will use less resources to deliver results faster however the value of open interfaces and distributed multivendor solutions shouldn’t be underestimated.

  2. Hi Vance,
    Agreed! The plumbing technologies like SigScale’s are far more advanced than back in they days of my story!
    The challenge with cross-linking still sits within the data sets (ie finding or engineering linking keys). That was a huge (but exciting) challenge of migrating data from various different sources and making them link together and allowing the OSS tools to work properly. Hopefully as ODA becomes more prevalent, we’ll have more consistency in data too. SID existed back in the timeframe of my story and the first OSS was partially built around it, but the data sources weren’t. It made data-mig really fun!

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