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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Tracking Fiber Optic Networks? 75

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-want-it-as-a-particle-or-as-a-wave? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We operate a wide area network that has a large amount of fiber optics, and provides service to our various departments in locations across the state. The network is reasonably complex, with splices, patches, and the general type of ad-hoc build that makes knowing where things go difficult. I'd like to implement some type of software to record where the fiber cables run, what pit number they are jointed in, which fiber is spliced to which, and what internal customer is using which fiber path through the system. Knowing what fibers are free for use is also a requirement, and I'd love to record details of what equipment was put in where, for asset and warranty tracking. Extra points if I can give Engineering access to help them design things better!"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Tracking Fiber Optic Networks?

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  • KISS principle (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @12:42PM (#43946685)

    I'd like to implement some type of software to record where the fiber cables run, what pit number they are jointed in, which fiber is spliced to which, and what internal customer is using which fiber path through the system. Knowing what fibers are free for use is also a requirement, and I'd love to record details of what equipment was put in where, for asset and warranty tracking. Extra points if I can give Engineering access to help them design things better!"

    At the risk of appearing less geeky than my peers... use a sketch pad. I'm perfectly serious about this. We've been using building blue prints since the Roman times and they've served humanity pretty well. Expensive software solutions and asset management databases solve the problem too, but they're invariably varying degrees of out of date and did I mention they cost a lot?

    Engineers understand blue prints. I know paper is a little 90s, but it works, it's universally understood, and it's cheap. If you were dealing with high level IT people for this, maybe I'd suggest the high priced software solution because they'd be happy to waste hours maintaining it and sending out e-mails reminding people to update the information in it... don't ask me why computer geeks love that kind of overhead, I don't know. I'm guilty of it too.

    But these are not those people. They're engineers that block print everything and have marginal computer skills on the best of days. Give them a pencil and tell them to write neatly. You'll save on aspirin.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @12:43PM (#43946695) Homepage Journal

    How about a graph editor, such as yEd [yworks.com]?

    Take a map image of your state and overlay it with a yEd diagram, click on nodes to bring you to a more detailed (but localized) sub-mapof the local graph.

    (If you do this, consider using a dedicated huge, transparent display (such as this one [bridgat.com]) just for the awesome factor.)

    • Thanks for that. I don't think I had run into yEd before. I now plan to use it for ERDs.

      I've tried other tools for the job, and I'm just not terribly happy with them.
  • PRISM (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 08, 2013 @12:44PM (#43946701)

    Muahahaha.

  • Nice try, NSA! Still can't get enough snooping around?
  • There are packages for this, like UltiCam. But the real problem is numbering and labeling. Telcos have been doing this for a century. Everything has a number. There are pair numbers, cable numbers, rack numbers, tray numbers, terminal numbers... Everything has labels or color coding. So there's an ID string for everything, and an end to end connection is a sequence of ID strings. Each change is tied to a work order. Since many people are constantly modifying a telco's cable plant, this is essential.

    Ca

    • Yes what he said. "Cable databases are a revision control system. Each change has a work order, and all the history is retained. Some systems let you extract a drawing of selected connections, but giant wiring diagrams are not too useful."
      Combine with audit and check... errors slip in and corrections are critical. Think inventory cycle count.
  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @01:04PM (#43946807) Journal
    Why do we even have an "ask slashdot" section if none of the editors are ever going to post a story there? Of course the story is relevant in other sections or it wouldn't be posted here at all. That's not a reason to post it to a different section ough. Either post question type stories to the "ask slashdot" section or get rid of it. And no, putting "ask slashdot" in the title or adding it as a tag is not an acceptable alternative. It's a section for a reason.

    /me steps down from the soapbox
    • If you look in the Ask Slashdot [slashdot.org] section, you will see that *some* of the new Ask Slashdot articles are there. It is clearly being used, just not all of the time. I agree that this is a problem.

  • Excel and email.

    Those guys know what they're doing. That's why they get the big bucks.

  • by vinn (4370) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @01:23PM (#43946893) Homepage Journal

    I've worked in the IT industry for 20 years, 7 of which were in telecom.

    I find it so damn amusing that all the computer geeks still struggle with basic things the telecom world figured out 30 - 50 years ago. There's a lot to be learned from the old school carriers, and this is one of them.

    Most of the bigger carriers have their own stuff that'll track everything from pairs/strands to binding posts, etc. You need to know sizes of entrance protectors and all kinds of other things. Sizes of splice cases and the number of trays are nice to know. Everything needs to go into GIS, and that used to mean a second system that references locations. These days there are integrated packages. The exact system we used was purchased by NEC and no longer exists. And actually, I wouldn't recommend it, we used it primarily because the work order system was quite robust and we were willing to sacrifice some of the documentation features for that.

    Would something like this work?
    http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Products/Bentley+Fiber [bentley.com]

    • by jafo (11982)

      I used to work doing IT for the ILEC and the more I worked with their systems the more surprised that I was able to pick up the phone and get a dial-tone. A friend of mine worked on the systems that managed the in-the-ground cables, he's the one that said the previous sentence. I worked mostly on the billing and ordering systems. They were not the most robust systems.

  • check this out : http://ospinsight.com/content/?page=87 [ospinsight.com]
  • I was rented out to a local TV station for a few years from my IT shop.. they had a jillion wires and connects to track and keep track of for the engineers.. not exactly the same.. but in the ballpark..

    I got the basic specs of what they were trying to do and within a few weeks had whipped up a db app which was a local network only kinda thing.

    Maybe Im too old now and no one actually does this kinda thing for themselves any more or maybe the job is too big for someone to whip up the db.. its always the d
  • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday June 08, 2013 @02:41PM (#43947235) Homepage

    Best Software For Tracking Fiber Optic Networks?

    I believe NORAD has the best available tracking software. That might be a bit overkill though, considering the typically zero velocity of fiber optic networks.

    -

  • Although this product [lodedata.com] is part of a larger selection of CATV design software [lodedata.com], it is well written for the lifecycle installed metro fiber with the ability to pre-allocate either fiber or individual lambdas based upon anticipated needs and stakeholders. In addition, it incorporates storage of OTDR results and allows some extrapolation for expected signal strength should future cuts and splices be needed in the future. Their traditional copper plant design tools are nice to have should this be part of a cam

  • The thing you're looking for is a network inventory system. There are many companies offering these products, for example Amdocs (Resource Manager product, old company name Cramer, lacks GIS features but otherwise one of the best products), Smallworld (including top-notch GIS, but less elegant when it comes to logical network), Ericsson (old company name Telcordia, including GIS and better logical network inventory support than Smallworld), and Comptel (a bunch of products). These products are not cheap. Se
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I work in a whole fibre optic telecommunications company and I have a good answer for you: try DAD http://www.dad.net.au/v10.0/

    We use it to document POI network and FDH information, addresses of customers, if they are connected or not and type of equipment installed with serial / MAC address recorded.

    We can easily record information and trace any network pretty fast. We can also clone components easily, so we do not have to recreate them constantly.

    The system is Windows based with a per seat licensing model

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I believe the design/deployment by the main company (Opticomm) involved in the Australian NBN (nationwide fibre network) is using DAD for exactly the purpose you mention. http://www.dad.net.au/ [dad.net.au]

    Last time I checked they had a free Fibre network trial model you could browse online.
  • by TBC (11250)

    We're migrating spreadsheets and Visio drawings to 3GIS (www.3-gis.com) for the ability to track fiber paths, etc. We evaluated a number of systems. It's based on ESRI, so it's standards based.

  • I hear PRISM [poorrichardsnews.com] works pretty well ...

  • Until you told us you weren't in engineering. My advice, let them deal with it instead of trying to force a solution on them.
  • I'd suggest using GIS as a facilities maintenance type of application. Points can be your equipment/connections/appliances and lines can be your fiber. You can attach as many fields as you need to a feature, and you can do calcuations and reports on them. You can overlay these on any basemap you like. I use ESRI's ArcGIS products personally, but you can find other ones, especially open source (free) ones that will do the job just the same.
  • We have developed a GIS-based tool to inventory and manage fiber networks. It is inexpensive and easy to use We have several relevant references that we are prepared to share. You can find more details at: http://apex.apfutura.net/ [apfutura.net] Please, contact me privately if you need any further information. Regards, Carlos

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