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Best Job Schedulers for IT: Features and Capabilities Guide

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Enterprise Job Scheduling Overview

Job schedulers enable users to schedule jobs and processes to run at specific times. Job scheduling goes back to the 1960s when batch schedulers were used to execute jobs in overnight batch windows. Most of these early schedulers were designed to operate in homogeneous mainframe environments.

Today, IT environments are far from homogeneous, composed of tools and technologies that are as disparate as they are often incompatible. Enterprise job schedulers offer a range of features and capabilities that help IT teams meet these new and growing demands, which we cover below.

Top Features and Capabilities of Market-Leading Enterprise Job Schedulers

Enterprise job scheduling tools enable users to automate cross-platform IT and business processes by providing a range of features and capabilities that streamline the development, simplify the operation, and reduce the complexity of cross-platform processes.

As we’ll see below, enterprise job scheduling solutions are extensible and scalable, enabling IT to unify the management of jobs and workloads across the organization. Enterprise scheduling solutions can be used to automate:

  • Business processes
  • IT operations (monitoring, high availability)
  • Data centers (big data/Hadoop ecosystem, workload automation)
  • IT infrastructure
  • Secure file transfers (MFT, FTP, batch processes)

Flexible Date/Time Scheduling

If it doesn’t support date and time scheduling, it’s not a job scheduler. Basic task schedulers can provide functionality to schedule jobs based on calendar days, while enterprise-level scheduling platforms provide more granular scheduling capabilities that include fiscal year dates, custom tags, and time zones, which helps simplify scheduling across geographic locations. Users can also schedule workflows based on custom business days for additional flexibility.

Event-Based Automation

Event automation enables IT to initiate jobs and processes when specified IT or business events occur, for example, email events, file events, system startups, or the completion of predecessor jobs.

Event-based automation can drastically reduce delays in day-to-day and end-to-end processes, by making it easier for IT to string together long-running workflows that do not require manual hand-offs or human intervention.

Prebuilt Connectors

Many job schedulers today provide prebuilt, universal tasks for commonly scripted actions and functions, for example, file system operations, database operations, backups, and flow control. These prebuilt tasks can be added to workflows regardless of the underlying tools or technologies being used.

Additionally, enterprise job schedulers can include a wide variety of direct integrations with popular vendors and platforms, providing prebuilt, reusable tasks that can be added into workflows without having to create custom scripts.

API Adapters

Job scheduling platforms provide low-code REST API adapters that enable IT to integrate virtually any tool or technology. API functions (including RESTful Services, WSDLs, SOAP Web Services, and more) can be loaded and turned into reusable tasks that can then be assembled into cross-platform workflows. This enables users to incorporate real-time data, dependencies, and business rules from any application or technology with an API.

Because they provide near-limitless extensibility, market-leading job schedulers function as orchestration hubs that enable IT to coordinate workflows across the enterprise.

Drag-and-Drop Workflow Designer

Market-leading schedulers are built around intuitive user interfaces that graphically display workflows, providing drag-and-drop functionality to simplify the development of complex processes. Prebuilt and user-defined tasks can be reused and templated, and quickly assembled into workflows without the need for custom scripting.

Monitoring and Alerting

In some cases, enterprise job schedulers provide real-time monitoring of jobs and workloads to help prevent failures and breached service level agreements (SLAs). Proactive monitoring enables scheduling platforms to take appropriate, automated actions if a workflow overruns, underruns, displays exit codes, fails, or is in danger of breaching an SLA. Automated remediation workflows can be triggered without human intervention, and additional compute resources can be reserved for workloads at risk of delay.

Additionally, real-time monitoring enables support for different types of alerts that notify team members or systems when specified conditions are fulfilled. Alerts can be delivered via email, JMS, SMS texts, Skype, and more, allowing IT operators to respond quickly to prevent or remediate pending issues.

Resource Provisioning

Enterprise job schedulers enable IT to integrate the management of infrastructure resources into end-to-end processes. When a job or workload is scheduled to run, users can manually select what server will execute the job, or they can associate that job with a collection of servers that provide workload balancing, reducing delays.

Advanced scheduling platforms take workload management a step further by providing resource provisioning capabilities. Users can specify the number and type of servers to be provisioned at the time of execution, and the scheduler will then deprovision those servers when the workload is complete, helping to control operational costs by reducing idle resources.

Additionally, some scheduling platforms collect vast amounts of runtime data by default, and will apply machine learning algorithms to this historical (and real-time) data in order to manage and optimize the use of virtual machines, intelligently distributing workloads to minimize slack time and reduce idle machine resources.

Self-Service Portals

Self-service portals provide a user-friendly, web-based application that allows help desk and business teams to execute daily and ad hoc processes. IT sets up the environment and empowers various business units to run and monitor specific jobs and plans based upon departmental or individual requirements. This allows end-users to run and monitor processes as needed, such as provisioning virtual machines or producing end-of-day reports, without waiting for IT.

Enterprise Job Scheduler Comparisons

Job scheduling software is a broad category that includes everything from native point-solutions (Microsoft Windows Task Scheduler, cron jobs in Linux/UNIX, Oracle Scheduler, etc.) to enterprise schedulers that provide cross-platform orchestration.

Today’s business and IT environments are complex, increasingly distributed, and composed of divergent technologies. Because of this, many organizations are moving away from point solutions, in order to avoid siloed operations, and towards enterprise scheduling platforms that unify the management of workflows across the enterprise.

Traditional wisdom for procuring software solutions hinges on whether or not a solution can integrate with existing IT systems. By providing nearly infinite extensibility, market-leading enterprise job schedulers can guarantee integration with any technologies being used today or in the future. Because of this, the differentiating factors between enterprise schedulers lies mainly in the features and capabilities the scheduling system provides.

As an example, we’ve put together a features and capabilities chart comparing ActiveBatch with multiple competitors.

You can also view a comprehensive list of features and capabilities to help guide your decision process.


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Brian is a staff writer for the IT Automation Without Boundaries blog, where he covers IT news, events, and thought leadership. He has written for several publications around the New York City-metro area, both in print and online, and received his B.A. in journalism from Rowan University. When he’s not writing about IT orchestration and modernization, he’s nose-deep in a good book or building Lego spaceships with his kids.

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