In part one of our resource management blog post series, we discussed how to prepare for potential implementation problems and why it is critical to have a central database and unified data model in place to ensure a consistent view of the network at all times and to manage disparate data.
In part two, we’ll dive into the key requirements of a resource management solution and how to manage implementation costs.
Key Requirements of a Resource Management Solution
Any new resource management system should support at least the following four basic requirements:
- Documentation of physical and logical network resources
Network documentation is a basic functionality and should be the foundation of any resource management system. Physical resources are the chassis, modules and SFP, as well as the cable, patch panels and splice boxes. Logical resources are network connectivity and network functions e.g. firewalls or data filters. Any dependencies between the physical and logical resources need to be modeled e.g. to report the effected services in case of an outage of physical resource. This is especially true when it comes to cable management. Another requirement for the system is that must also support the documentation and displaying of geographical information on a map, i.e. GIS functionality.
- Flexible frameworks to implement interfaces
Since a resource management solution is both the source of data for many external systems, as well as a repository for them, flexible interface adapters are critical for northbound integration, e.g. with OSS and BSS systems, and southbound integration to the network for reconciliation of the network data.
- Library of components
Another feature of a resource inventory solution is a database of predefined components from the different devices to be managed. This includes a graphical representation but also data such as size, power consumption, slots and ports, etc. Access to such a library speeds up the addition of new equipment and reduces the effort for the user to define these components.
- Reporting and dashboarding of resource data Having the required resource data in a database is one thing but making it useful for the operator is another. For example, can the operator easily access the data to identify free resources to be put into service, or those to be replaced? To get the most value from an implemented resource management solution, a flexible, user-defined reporting and graphical representation of data on a dashboard is required. This also includes reports for impact analysis, e.g. in case of fiber breaks or outages, as well as for work orders generated for new equipment and configurations in the network.
Managing Implementation Costs
A productized software solution is the key to managing the cost of a solution. Such a solution eliminates the need to integrate each new customer solution from scratch, which eliminates the cost of programming for software integration and customized features. Each customer of the productized software solution can then decide for themselves whether they need additional customized functionality to support their specific historical workflows.
While this sounds straightforward and simple, it still requires certain principles to be considered when starting the software design of the solution. Configuration instead of programming are the key words. The solution needs general openness through its interfaces, but also of the software design. Most vendors don’t make their software generally configurable and open with the configurable interface adapters that would make their solution flexible enough to create a productized software solution. Instead, they let their customers pay for the additional programming during solution implementation or extensions. The productized software solution, with its ability to configure features, is much more fiscally desirable for operators of all sizes than expensive integration and programming.
The benefit of such a solution is not only a reduced cost, but also faster implementation and extensions, as the functions are already available and data migration is the main topic. Productized features can even help to streamline the data migration process. Lastly, software upgrades for a productized software solution are much cheaper than with a highly customized solution, which drastically reduces the TCO. To ensure quality service, a productized software solution makes the addition of new features from a software upgrade instantly available for all customers.
In part three of our blog post series, we’ll discuss how to prevent vendor lock-in and how to keep pace with digital transformation.
By: Bernd Pruessing, Senior Solutions Consultant at FNT Software