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O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention

July 17-20, 2000 in Monterey, California


Open Source Development of an Automated Technical Support Tool

Allan Miller

Track: Bonus Business
Date: Thursday, July 20
Time: 2:15pm - 3:00pm

HandsFree Networks leverages open source development to provide technology that is designed to embed automated problem resolution in software and hardware products. The initial product based on this technology is an automated technical support for small business and home networks. The first level of customer support encompasses detecting and resolving the vast majority of problems, the ones whose causes and resolutions are already known, though perhaps not to the end-user. Problems not handled this way are escalated to higher levels involving sophisticated problem solving. Most first-level customer support can be automated, with the Internet serving as the delivery infrastructure. In this presentation, we describe a system for detecting, resolving, and escalating such problems automatically. The architecture of the system makes it ideal for open source development because symptom/solution sets are stored in the knowledge base as independent executable code modules. We discuss the innovative design features of the system along with examples of symptom/solution actions and how to use it. Finally, we describe our development environment, and review some early results with developers and customers.

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