TCG meets C/S challenge

COMPANY: Teleport Communications Group (TCG)
PURPOSE: Provide a distributed client/server infrastructure using open systems and relational database technology.

APPLICATION: TCG Enterprise -- Teleport Communications Group (TCG), Staten Island, N.Y., is a telephone company aggressively trying to stay ahead of the competition. Since 1989, TCG's revenue has grown 50% to 60% each year -- from $25 million to $600 million annually in less than 10 years. In an effort to maintain this growth rate and offer services priced below the competition, Robert Annunziata, the company's CEO, and John Scarpati, CFO, sponsored the development of an enterprise system. The goal was to design an open system that would be highly scalable and would require minimum I/S maintenance expense. This would allow cost savings to be passed on to customers through low telephone rates, in effect giving TCG a competitive advantage.

A development committee of system engineers, user administrators and system administrators coordinated the development of functional requirements. Using RAD techniques, system modules were prototyped and approved, finally being passed on (with design documentation) to developers, where they were completed and unit tested. Users performed acceptance testing prior to implementing the production system. The project would have taken 20 person years to finish, but was completed in three calendar years.

TCG Enterprise, a Unix-based system, was built using PowerBuilder from Sybase Inc., Emeryville Calif., and Passport from Passport Corp., Paramus, N.J. Sybase is the database standard, but the system is designed to be open to Oracle and Informix databases as well. Unix was selected for "its immediate and long-term flexibility and scalability," according to Patrick Socci, vice president of MIS at TCG.

The biggest challenge, according to Socci, was not technical but human. For instance, TCG wanted to encourage end users to not only be proficient with the new system but also to be creative in working with it. This requirement was met by hiring creative power users to work with the telephone company's departmental staff; they passed their "tricks-of-the-trade" on to the end-user community within TCG.

- Rich Seeley


PATRICK SOCCI vice president, MIS

DOUG LIEU director of Olap development

YOUNG HAHN director of OLTP development

STEVE PAYNE director of in house systems engineering & process development

MARTIN DENOIA director of third party systems engineering & process development.

Provides scalable enterprise system, which will allow rapid restructuring with re-coding. Holds I/S costs below 5%, giving TCG a competitive advantage by allowing it to beat competitors pricing by 10%.

APT Workbench (now discontinued) Sybase Inc., Emeryville, Calif.

Passport Corp. (formerly InSync Software) Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

PowerBuilder, Sybase

S-Designor, Sybase

Microsoft Project, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.

Open Plan, Welcom Software, Houston Texas

SERVERS: Integrated Sun, HP, IBM, DEC, NCR and Tandem in SMP Unix environment.

NETWORK: National frame relay WAN binding more than 60 LANs using PC NFS Pro, NIS+ and DNS names services and 110-base T wiring. Area routing uses Cisco routers.

CLIENTS: 15% RISC clients from Sun, HP, IBM, and DEC. 85% PCs (486s and Pentiums).

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.