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Surround yourself with visionaries

“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” John Wooden Change, innovation and product improvement comes from the collision of ideas from a diversity of thoughts. Art, industrial design, logistics, mathematics, computing, storage, automation – all these industries have improvements to offer to OSS. Surrounding yourself with visionaries and mentors from outside your company helps to promote the ideas, dreams,…

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Cross-domain research

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty." Henry Ford Henry Ford is widely acknowledged for creating the production line that revolutionised the automobile industry, bringing cars within financial reach of the common man. However, Ford's autobiography states that he borrowed the idea from the "disassembly" lines used by Armour for processing meat. He then called upon Frederick Taylor, the creator of "scientific…

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An alternative profit

"Remind people that profit is the difference between revenue and expense. This makes you look smart." Dilbert In times when it is difficult to find money for new OctopOSS projects, revenue protection / fraud detection / leakage analysis could potentially bring quick payback. I was once indirectly involved in an OSS project worth several million US dollars. The customer was ecstatic but also concerned that their…

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Merging BSS with OSS?

"Combine the extremes, and you will have the true center." Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel Are we already starting to see the merging of BSS (customer facing systems) and OSS (network facing systems)? Since carriers are going to be asked by customers to be increasingly transparent, they will need to deliver combined information across the B/OSS. From a customer perspective, it might be a single view of…

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OctopOSS Training

"The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery." Plato Training is only useful if it is context-sensitive and interactive. If you want the best results from training, you have to build customised training for the specific customer environment (ie equipment types, service types, naming conventions, etc). If a load from production data (or a subset thereof) can be facilitated into the training…

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Evaluating Suppliers

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence." Richard Dawkins Evaluating OSS vendors is never an easy task. There are virtually no apples-for-apples comparisons, even within domains (eg alarm/fault management). Each product set has different features, support, etc. Despite this, I have used an approach similar to this Vendor Selection Workflow for a number of customers The…

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Single-Site or Highly-Available?

"Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability." Edsger Dijkstra This is the last in this "So, what is it going to be?" series. Do you need your OctopOSS to be highly available (HA), with mullti-site failover, redundancy mechanisms, constant data sych, etc? Or is your OctopOSS non mission critical and doesn't require a DR (Disaster Recovery) site, doesn't need complex data duplication and only requires best effort support and…

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SaaP or SaaS Implementation?

“Products are evaluated, services are experienced” Ken Rutsky So, what's it going to be? Will you have your OctopOSS in your own cage (ie on your site) - the SaaP (Software as a Product) model. Or will you rent your OctopOSS from someone else - the SaaS (Software as a Service) model? What are the implications of each? Software as a Service (SaaS) SaaS is a…

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Best-of-breed or Single-vendor Implementation?

“Striving for perfection is the greatest stopper there is. It's your excuse to yourself for not doing anything. Instead, strive for excellence, doing your best.” Sir Laurence Olivier So, what is it going to be? Is your OctopOSS going to be built using the "best of breed" approach (ie the best available product) for each aspect of your OSS (eg Fault Management, Performance Management, Inventory, etc)?…

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Phased or big-bang implementation?

"Life is a series of steps. Things are done gradually. Once in a while there is a giant step, but most of the time we are taking small, seemingly insignificant steps." Ralph Ransom So, what is it going to be? Is your OctopOSS going to be introduced in phases or is it going to be introduced in one big bang? Phased Approach The phased approach is…

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Vendor, Integrator or in-house implementation?

"The other part of outsourcing is this: it simply says where the work can be done outside better than it can be done inside, we should do it." Alphonso Jackson In the second of our "So, what is it going to be?" series, we look at whether your OctopOSS going to be implemented by: An out-sourced arrangement - with a vendor (ie the original software developer)…

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COTS or Custom Implementation?

"Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it." Rabindranath Tagore So, what is it going to be? Is your OctopOSS going to be built up from Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) software components or are you going to build it yourself? In the early days of OSS, CSPs had little choice but to build their own as there…

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A new alarm storm concept

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." Hans Hofmann OSS vendors have already developed alarm "prioritisation" tools such as de-duplication, escalation, suppression, correlation, etc to help reduce noise. Root-cause Analysis is only as good as the gurus who can identify the patterns of events and then build the associated correlation algorithms. I have a whole different product in…

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Who wants an ugly hat?

"If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish he will buy an ugly hat. And if you talk about fish to a starving man then you are a consultant. " Dilbert I'd have to raise my hand and say that I've done all three of these things. I've worked on projects where the…

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Business Case Mindset

"Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems." Dilbert Before embarking on the choice of an OSS, one first needs to consider the fundamental question: what problem are you trying to solve? As an OSS implementer you will undoubtedly need to prepare a compelling business case, in some cases to an audience of sponsors who aren’t…

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Customer Experience Requirements

“Everything starts with the customer.” Louis XIV It just dawned on me today that OSS requirement definition never seems to start with the customer. It always starts with the CSPs operators and their needs. That sounds logical, since they're the ones who will use it the most. But how many customers have had terrible experiences with their CSP, including the following examples: If a fault exists with…

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I/O, I/O, it’s off to work I go

"To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail." Abraham Maslow In the case of OSS, our hammer is the computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, which are the weapons of choice for interacting with the OSS tools. But are they the best I/O (Input / Output) devices for performing each of the different CSP operation tasks? A data entry operator…

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Fastest Gunslinger in the West

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Oprah Winfrey Other trades have trade-shows where they can demonstrate their ability to be the best. For example, Arborists have shows with tree climbing competitions. Wouldn't it be fun to run similar competitions for OSS operators at our trade-shows? Who is the fastest to resolve a network fault that generates an alarm storm?…

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Behavioural Analysis

"It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction." Warren Buffett How many gun network firefighters write OSS code? And how many gun OSS coders fix CSP networks for a living? And how many business analysts can do both? I'd hazard a guess by saying "few more than none" for…

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OSS University

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” Socrates Where is the ubiquitous source of OSS information to help newbies light their fire? Books? Whilst I have seen many fantastic OSS books that fill many hundreds of pages, there is still so much left to be told. Most of these books cover technologies that will soon enough be superseded by the…

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How is your Outside Plant data integrity?

"Garbage In, Garbage Out" Computer Industry Proverb Let me ask you the following questions: Are you having data accuracy problems, particularly in your Outside Plant Network? Are your network operators and planners losing faith in the data stored in your NMS/OSS and having to adopt workarounds that cause further degradation of data integrity? Worse still, are they wasting time on lengthy audits to determine whether the live network matches…

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