Creating Efficiency with Adaptation
Rob Hamlin, Director Solutions Engineering, VOSS
As a follow on to my June 30 blog post Working Outside the Box, I would like to highlight a seemingly minor adaptation that had a significant impact on the efficient use of VOSS-4-UC for a provider.
Working together with our customer, we tuned their UC management system to suit their business practices. Once complete, we explored areas where further improvements could be made. One statement stuck out from the rest. The customer expressed frustration that number management as a whole was "really slowing them down". This comment really got me thinking about how we could help improve their process.
Let's set the stage so the situation may be better understood. In the last blog post I mentioned the need to take the +E164 number that is mapped to the associated Internal Number Inventory directory number, then bind that +E164 number to the phone line and elements in Cisco Unity. For these reasons, there is an easily specified groundrule that the administrators will always map each E164 number to one directory number. This was a very important detail that helped define a VOSS-4-UC adaptation that would streamline their frustratingly slow process.
The Customer Process
To achieve their desired number association in the out-of-the-box system, the customer performed the following steps:
1. Add Internal Number Inventory via the range add tool:
2. Add E164 Number Inventory via the range add tool:
3. Associate the E164 to Directory Number one by one using this tool:
For the first two steps in the process, the out-of-the-box functionality works well. The internal number inventory and E164 inventory can be added in ranges with a single step each. The association of E164 to directory number is not so efficient. The numbers have to be mapped one per transaction because of the nature of the tool and the requirement for one-to-one mapping. If you have 100 numbers to associate, the steps required to achieve the end goal would be 102.
What we needed was a way to do associations in ranges. I set out in my lab with the problem firmly in my sights, and after a day or two, returned to the customer with the following solution.
I utilized the VOSS-4-UC Adaptation capability that is simple to use but very broad in its functionality within the context of the requirement. To keep the process simple I ensured the input data was as minimal as possible, resolving to use four core fields.
- Start DN: Designates the beginning of the directory number range
- End DN: Designates the end of the directory number range
- Start E164: Designates the beginning of the E164 number range
- Country of E164 Number Range: Designates the country for the E164 numbers which is required in the E164 table
All of the fields may be used as dropdowns to map existing E164 and internal number inventory directory numbers. Should the number inventories not exist at run-time, the administrator can simply add, in free text, the number information, and at launch, the tool will provision the internal number inventory numbers as well as the corresponding E164 range into their perspective tables.
How Does It Work?
Behind the scenes in VOSS-4-UC, a workflow analyzes the input data of the Start DN to End DN and builds a range of numbers. If the input were Start DN: 5010 and End DN: 5014, the workflow would build a list of 5010, 5011, 5012, 5013, 5014. The workflow then does a count on those directory numbers and applies that count to build a range of corresponding E164 numbers in order, starting with the Start E164 number. This of course implies that the E164 number to DN map is in a sequential order which in the case of this carrier, most are.
In this adaptation, the range of numbers that can be built are not fixed; the start DN and end DN can range anywhere between 1 and 1000. A ceiling of 1000 was introduced just as a safety net to ensure the tool does not monopolize system resources for too long.
The new tool is also enabled to fill gaps in existing inventories. For argument’s sake, say you had a range in the number inventory of 1024 to 1033 and you want to add 1000-1099, the tool will simply skip over the existing entries and add the missing inventory numbers around or in between them. This is also true of the E164 inventories.
The solution to the process inefficiency turned out to be quite elegant. With the introduction of the new tooling, the customer gains a “one stop shop” for number managment. In the case of a 100 directory number association, we took the 102 step process and turned that into a one step process. For this customer and their administrators this represents a major leap in efficiency and productivity.
Let us know if there is a UC management process causing frustration in your organization.