Here's the schematic capability Granite was originally after
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Granite's software helps their Telco customers manage network capacity, circuit assignments, ordering, scheduling and troubleshooting.The raw material of their core product, Xpercom, is database records; its function is to track the inventory of everything in the network, and the connectivity of that network: switch to cell site, customer to customer.Granite's clients asked them for schematic diagrams as a part of the Xpercom output.In an effort to keep their own development team focused, Granite looked outside for software partners to supply that capability.
According to Jay Borden, President of Granite Systems, "We looked at Dataview, Ilog, Smallworld, and others.In fact, we were pretty far down the road with one of these before we heard about Object/FX.We switched to Object/FX; more than anything, the consulting and development assistance they offered was determining; it was far and away better than their competitors."
Object/FX's mapping is now embedded in Granite's Xpercom Visual Edition
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Object/FX is a St.Paul, Minnesota software development company founded in 1993.Their goal: to bring the benefits of spatial visualization and analysis to a wider audience of software users.While their orientation is GIS, anything that requires a visual, graphic display is fair game for their software tools.
"Object/FX did a nice job of melding the schematics requirement with additional geographic benefits.They had a relatively high level of functionality already within their platform, so we were able to develop our application quicker," said Borden."We were also getting pressure from many of our customers to develop in the Java environment." (This telecommunications industry preference for Java bodes well for other mapping tools companies such as Sedona and Formida.)
Object/FX provided the Spatial FX client and server to Granite Systems."We used these tools to develop an add-on module to our core Xpercom product, called Visual Edition (VE)," said Borden. "VE gives our users an easy way to view both the schematics and the geography of their infrastructure."
According to Mr.Borden, Granite's Xpercom, integrating Object/FX's capability, was released less than six months after the development effort began, with less than 4 man-years of development hours deployed.
In the course of the collaboration, Granite realized they were getting capabilities for their customers far beyond the original specification."It was really cool the way we could take a data-intensive app and give it a visually exciting front end.And to make that front end so dynamic and closely coupled in the product in such a short time was remarkable," said Granite President Borden.
A radius select operation in Xpercom Visual Edition
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Granite and its customers have been very pleased with the geographic capabilities of their Object/FX-enabled product.On the drawing board, according to Granite President Borden, are "building floor plans, rack face equipment drawings, more granular mapping and outside plant display."
When asked what stumbling blocks his team encountered, Borden responded "It took some time to get our heads around the best way to configure things so that the response time needed from map rendering was acceptable.Object/FX helped in this regard as well, suggesting anapproach which turned out to be workable."
Granite Systems customers who use the Visual Edition of Xpercom, with Object/FX technology, include Bell Atlantic Mobile and PowerTel.
Object/FX is one of those exciting "small" companies working on leading edge Java browser-based technologies.Its list of partners is very impressive, including such powerhouses as Computer Associates, Inprise, Microsoft, Netscape, and Oracle.
Object/FX is a core technology partner of Granite, along with the likes of Oracle, Sun, and Platinum Technology (a division of Computer Associates).Granite Systems is a five year old business with 65 employees.It has been venture-backed since October of 1998, and serves the wireless, CLED, and ICPS market.Its principal competitors are Architel, Lucent, and Accugraph.