I found this LightReading article a few days ago, about a product that enables better automation of tasks that are usually GUI-driven in Granite.
Sincera, a Granite ‘boutique’ system integrator, has shipped their SASI (Simple Automated Service Interface) product to Time Warner Cable. The PR extols the virtues of using the Granite APIs rather than hacking the database directly. Well, yeah. It doesn’t go in to much detail beyond saying it reduces time and effort for data entry and data change tasks.
My assumption is that this is a type of ‘macro’ functionality. OSS vendor all have their own technical automation, and sometimes business (BPEL-style) workflow, but tend to lack user automation tasks. For example, if I wanted to find, check and rename a field in all my customer edge router records, I either do a lot of manual changes or I have to write a fairly inflexible piece of automation code. The platform to enable automation can also be quite expensive.
Sincera have spotted that its relatively easy to query the database of an OSS inventory, apply a bit of logic, then fire off API calls to make bulk changes. It’s A Good Thing, and I bet it wasn’t more than a couple of man-months of development on their part.
The risk with This Sort of Thing is that you over-empower the user. A simple front end that allows users to quickly find and modify many thousands of objects in the inventory can lead to some big mistakes being made. Does SASI or Granite have enough checks to limit run-away edits, or set the scope of a user modification? Hope so.
‘Undo’ in a large-scale, multi-user environment is not an easy thing to get right.
Concerns aside, I like this. OSS automation has not seen much development lately, other than in service catalog solutions. This addresses a basic requirement. Furthermore, its great to see third-parties releasing productized add-ons.