Do you manage a large network of outside plant IT infrastructure? Have an effective way to keep track of what you’ve got, where it is, and […]

Need Outside Plant Software? 3 Hacks You Should Avoid

Do you manage a large network of outside plant IT infrastructure? Have an effective way to keep track of what you’ve got, where it is, and […]


Do you manage a large network of outside plant IT infrastructure? Have an effective way to keep track of what you’ve got, where it is, and what’s connected to what? Can you use it when something happens, and someone needs to go out into the field? How can you plan your fiber infrastructure capacity to make sure you have room for growth?

If you don’t have a solid outside plant software solution (such as netTerrain OSP, because this wouldn’t be a company blog if we can’t toot our own horn a bit here), you may, like many of our customers once did, have resorted to some hacks to get your outside plant documented. While getting some documentation on paper is, arguably, far better than nothing, hacks (even the most sensible ones) can lead to more work and more problems down the road.

1. OSP Hack: Use an Open Source Solution

In the world of enterprise software, there are few easy-to-use systems out there (no matter what the particular type of software you’re looking for is). Open source and easy-to-use? That goes together like cereal and orange juice…or, in other words, it doesn’t.

If you really want a free solution that brings things together better than using a hodgepodge of tools, you may resort to using an open source GIS software such as QGIS ….but, user beware: the halls of Reddit are littered with a few stories of users having issues with speed, reliability, and usability.

2. OSP Hack: Develop Your Own Homegrown Solution

We’ve seen it before: companies want a custom solution that meets their exact needs…without the heavy price tag. They have developers on staff…why not build their own system?

At first glance even, it seems like it won’t be ‘that hard’. On paper, building a homegrown OSP system may seem like a way to get more flexibility, more power, more ROI…without the cost. Here’s what the reality usually ends up looking like: one thing leads to another, and the wants/needs/must-haves/nice-to-haves stack up, and all of sudden things combust. The project becomes too bloated, too complicated, too unwieldy, and ultimately too time-consuming to get off the ground. You’re left with is no solution and a wasted investment of time and resources.

3. OSP Hack: Use a Hodgepodge of Tools

A hodgepodge of tools may just work if you have a relatively small network to cover. Spreadsheets are a start. Google Earth can help: create hyperlinks and drop KMZ pins and see the physical locations of your infrastructure.

One of the limitations I always hear from people using Google Earth, is its inability to track and manage fiber strands. Is this something that is important for you to manage? With spreadsheets, you can create and have the documentation in hand, but it is hard to manage the strands and connections, without a visual representation.

Again, this may all work if you don’t have that much to manage and it’s easy to keep up with. If it’s not, however, and you need to stay on top of your outside plant IT documentation, you should avoid a hodgepodge of tools and look for a solution that has it all under one roof (including the ability to import from and integrate with your various tools).
Outside Plant software should be easy to use to foster adopt-ability to use for your fiber plant documentation.

A centralized, web-based solution such as netTerrain OSP is key for stakeholders within other departments to use one system for collaboration, planning, troubleshooting, and managing capacity to align with your business objectives.

Fred Koh
Fred Koh
As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.

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