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Field Tech Dashboard

Field Tech Dashboard

Well, as promised from my previous post, I am here to unveil the new module that will CHANGE THE WAY WE INSTALL FIBER CUSTOMERS (not really, but I like to think so).

So naturally, after a fiber project is completely built out and operational, the time and effort needed to build a system is finally found and put to good use. During our initial build out, we hired contractors to assist in the deployment of ONT’s for our new fiber customers. Being contractors, they would show up late for work, leave early, put in poor effort and often just caused a lot of issues. This issue resolved itself once we discontinued our relationship with the contracting company, and took some of their employees (the good ones). So given that we no longer have an issue with getting ONT’s installed in people’s houses, this module has lost some of it luster. But hey, I am a college student getting paid to write code right now, so I gotta find something productive to do!

In reality, this module will actually solve some other issues that we currently are facing, but able to manage.

Purpose

The field tech console is web interface that allows technicians, installers and contractors, manage and track their appointments. In the past, we have used Google Calendar to push out appointments to contractors and installers. While this has worked, see my calendar post for information as to why I chose to leave Google and move my calendar system in house.

ftd-appt

So just looking at the screenshot, it is easy to see now what this page does. Appointments are stacked, and the appointment details are provided to techs.

So, nothing really fancy, Google calendar does the same thing, only looks fancier. Not true!

The ability for calendar events to tie into customer records is helpful, since it can allow for appointments to be assigned to customers or tax lots for later reference. For example, I can look at a customer record and see who has visited them in the past.

event

Not only that, but these events have statuses. Depending on how the repair/install/pizza run went, it is recorded if it was successful, incomplete, or the customer failed to show up.

Location tracking

Now this feature is probably the most ideal for managers, and least ideal for really bad contractors that lie on their time cards. There are stages built within an event that tracks the progress.

location-update

Allowing for updated statues during an event utilizes the device and it GPS. Coordinates of the device are recorded under the record, along with the time stamp. From the last post, the result is a map on the final report for the event.

event-report

So now we can know when and where a status was updated, and how much time it took between each task. Now, one issue we thought of was that the numbers would just be fudged. While true, if a manager were closely watching each event, it would be apparent when times did not match up, or locations looked off. Apart from that, time stamps on when ONT’s arrived and departed are recorded, which can be compared to the time that it was provisioned.

ONT Provisioning

One of the coolest features that the field tech console allow for, is real time provisioning of ONT’s Not to get too much into detail, but if you read my previous post on the Calix NBI, you know that I used to provision units using the FSAN on each ONT. That FSAN is assigned to the customer and used for numerous things. One big issue that we have just dealt with in the past, was that ONT’s are assigned to customers now, instead of using a registration id. This means the ONT’s are provisioned in the morning, and handed to the installers. This resulted in the wrong ONT getting assigned to the wrong customer sometimes. We no longer really have this issue, but we can use this new feature to our advantage.

Usually on the day of an installation, a customer record is created, and a configuration for the ONT is made. This prevents techs from providing the wrong service package to the customer, or messing up other options.

ONT’s are assigned from inventory to installers. Those installers can then take batches of ONT’s to their vehicles and not requiring them to check into the office every morning. Since the FMS tracks ONT’s, it presents a list of assigned ONT’s to an installer.

console

Then, once an appointment has been set to the proper status, the ONT can be provisioned!

ftc-provision

ftc-verifty


ftc-result

Obviously this is where the happy green success message would show up, if the ONT wasn’t already provisioned elsewhere. But you can see how an installer has more autonomy to do their job now, and we can actually collect more information than before! This module is going live this Friday, and we will begin to see first hand how well it works. Of course there is more to this module, but I have shown you a good portion of it. There is room in the future for expansion and addition of new features.

City of Sandy and XenServer

City of Sandy and XenServer

While I personally moved back over to VMware for my personal servers, the City of Sandy still uses Citrix for it’s virtual platform. While I had a dislike for it before, it is becoming more bearable and easier to deal with. The past few months have been me learning how to really work this hyper-visor properly. Along with XenDesktop, it has been quite a ride.

Mixed thoughts about NetApp – We have a small NetApp setup in our datacenter that is used for our file storage for the Xen environment. While it was hot stuff when we got it, it just doesn’t seem to have the performance that was promised. Heck, our small 18TB homemade storage server has more I/O capacity than the NetApp, even though it lacks more spindles. It is hard to say whether the NetApp is to blame, or the Citrix environment, but either way something is not operating as it should.

XenDesktop5 to 7 – A few months ago, XenDesktop7 was released, and boy was it about time. Our XenDesktop5 environment was falling apart, and we had users connecting through storefront, access gateway, secure access and some other web interface for only 35 virtual desktops. With XenDesktop7, there was a focus on more mobile and WAN usage, so maybe it could benefit our patrol officers, whom are using crappy MiFi’s on a crappy 3G Verizon connection. The transition was anything but smooth… At least for the first week. It took me about a week to find our why every XenDesktop conversion was failing, and it turns out my user profile name was too long, and the installer fatally errored and kicked me out, breaking the machine. I don’t know who puts a user profile length in place for a string that needs a user profile, but way to go Citrix! Anyway after that, the conversion took only another week and was much smoother. Now that everyone is moved over to storefront and XenDesktop7, things have settled down and are returning to normal.

XenServer 6.2 Upgrade – This is yet to happen. As of right now, one of my coworkers is on vacation, and we are waiting for him to return so we can finish this upgrade. Because XenServer 6.1 broke all of the XenDesktop environments, we had to wait for XenDesktop7 to come out and then upgrade XenServer. But since all of the desktops are now moved, we can continue with our upgrade plan and see if we get any performance boost. I am hoping that we will see dramatically higher I/O and VM performance. I would also like to see XenDesktop video quality increase, but that may just be a dream.

Other than that, not much has happened in the past few months. I have been accepted into OSU and I move down to Corvallis late September. But until I move, I will continue to work at the City and see what I can do to make things better…