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The Last Byte, Inc. Quality software since 1982.


Client Clearnet PCS Inc.

Project SQLKnife
Circa 1998 05

Statement of Problem
The main client tracking and billing application, BSCS, had a number of bugs and problems, which manifested themselves in a variety of ways. While we waited for the vendor of the billing application to fix these bugs, it was the support department's job to analyze each problem, identify the type of bug and find a way to resolve it.

It quickly became evident that 99% of the problems came from a limited number of bugs (about a dozen, or so); and that there were set ways of fixing these issues. That was the good news.

The bad news was that the procedures for fixing these issues required write access to the main database. This, combined with high turnover in the support department, meant we were entrusting our main database to junior people, with limited training in what database access actually meant.

Our challenge, then, was to find a way to assist the support team in fulfilling their mandate of analyzing, identifying and fixing database problems, while limiting their direct access to the database.

The Last Byte designed and developed a plugin-based framework which allowed us to easily add or remove plugins to support specific issues. To add a given plugin to any number of users, we simply added a DLL to a specific directory on the network. When users started the SQLKnife application on their desktops, it would automatically check the network directory; if there were new or updated DLL's, it would copy them to the local drive.

The plugin concept proved so effective, we expanded it from database issues to network elements. Using automated telnet tools, and screen scraping techniques, we created plugins which analyzed, identified and resolved issues on the servers actually running the cellular network.

At this point it became necessary to restrict given plugins, to given users. So we developed a security module, which allowed us to assign users passwords, and rights to certain plugins.

Features Benefits
Plugin-based framework. Easy reconfiguration of the application's purpose and capabilities.
Plugins can be created to do just about anything.
Increase productivity. Reduce staffing requirements.
Reduce training costs.
Reduce likelihood of corrupted data and compromised servers.
Track changes to databases and servers through audit trails.
Central plugin repository. Simple deployment of new functionality.
Easily deploy modifications to existing plugins.
Security module. Restrict access to sensitive plugins, to qualified personnel.
Reduce risk of corporate espionage and sabotage.

Tools and Technologies
Delphi 3/5, Oracle 7.3, Advantage Database Server

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Created 2002 04 26; last modified 2006-05-03 1:30 .
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