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Perspectives on Enterprise Job Scheduling

Editorial Staff Written by

Enterprise job scheduling is a mature technology field, dating back to before today’s generation of IT professionals was even born. The technology for scheduling and automating IT workloads is constantly evolving, however, and IT departments have an abundance of solution choices.

In this article, members of IT Central Station who use ActiveBatch’s workload automation software offer their perspectives on what constitutes an effective enterprise job scheduling solution.

Enterprise Job Scheduling Use Cases

IT Central Station members are finding many inventive uses for ActiveBatch. For example, as a Client Service Manager/Programmer at a small tech vendor explained, “In our company we deal with a lot of data processing. Clients will send us extract files that we load into our system so that we can run calculations. And all of that is orchestrated using ActiveBatch automation.”

According to Bob O., Supervisor IT Operations at an insurance company with more than 500 employees, “ActiveBatch controls just about everything in our organization. We do server monitoring with our EDI feeds being inbound and outbound. And we do Oracle processing with it.”

“We execute over 20,000 jobs daily,” said an Operations Manager at Statkraft AS, offering a glimpse of the scale that some departments are handling. Statkraft AS is a renewables and environment company with over 1,000 employees.

“Most of the jobs are for the automation of processes, but we also use it for IT operations, including monitoring.”

Peter M., a Senior IT Architect at a pharma/biotech company with over 5,000 employees, explained, “We use [ActiveBatch] for a variety of different tasks, most of which are related to data management tasks, such as scheduling, processes related to updating business intelligence reporting, or general data management stuff. It’s also used for some low level file transfers and mergers in some cases.”

The Importance of Saving Time

Saving time is a core benefit of job scheduling software. According to Bob O, for instance, “… with the automation efforts that we have done over the years, we have gotten our money back. We save thousands of man-hours annually.”

His use of ActiveBatch has also resulted in a 90% improvement in job successes. Peter M. likewise estimated that ActiveBatch has saved hundreds of hours of development time for his team and others in his organization.

Mike S., a Data Warehouse Operations Analyst at a leisure/travel company with over 1,000 employees, also found that Active Batch saved his team over a dozen hours per month.

“The biggest issue we were having was the timing of all of the downstream applications from the warehouse, and [ActiveBatch] has greatly improved that.”

“It has saved man-hours in that situation when we would have issues and our old scheduling solution would break down because of them. This allows us to not have to worry about how to start the downstream applications, based on the warehouse. I would estimate it saves us about 20 hours per month.”

“The breakthrough for us was when we were able to take completely different software tools and integrate them into one long flow of data. We have our Informatica jobs which then trigger some PLC to SQL jobs in ActiveBatch, but they also trigger Alteryx jobs, which is its own software tool. It can integrate and execute iCEDQ, which is its own software, as well as Tableau. The ability to trigger those jobs from completely different software tools, in one flow, has saved us a lot of time and a lot of headaches.”

An Emphasis on Efficient IT Automation

IT Central Station members want new tools to deliver more efficient automation. This emphasis came through in remarks made by a Client Service Manager/Programmer, who said:

“The biggest example of the way it has improved things —and this is actually why we moved to ActiveBatch— is that most of our jobs are our processes that run overnight. That’s the critical time for us because we have to load and calculate this data overnight so that the clients can have it in the morning.”

“Our old automation tool would frequently have jobs that just failed, with no reason given. It would not track the history, so there was no way to determine if there was a pattern of failure. And it was difficult to restart jobs. That’s what moved us to ActiveBatch: knowing that the job is going to run, and that if it does fail it’s going to give adequate information as to why it failed.”

This Client Service Manager/Programmer takes advantage of ActiveBatch’s scheduling capabilities to run jobs at specific dates and times. As he noted, “These abilities have definitely increased efficiency and reduced delays. It’s mainly from the stability of the automation. Even with the old software … it just wasn’t as reliable. It would just have odd failures that we never could quite explain, and the vendor could not either.”

As Peter M. explained, “We found that [ActiveBatch] created simplicity for us with our workflows and process automation. It gives me the folder and job name, then I’m done. I don’t have to remember a plethora of things and that makes life a lot easier. Once you get it setup and have it configured, you don’t have to remember it anymore. It allows you to focus on doing the right thing.”

The Need for Flexibility and Support for Multiple Platforms

Job scheduling requirements are seldom static, and IT departments are expected to keep up with a steady stream of changes in system management routines. For this reason, users like Bob O. express appreciation that ActiveBatch’s console is “extremely flexible.”

“We have incorporated things into ActiveBatch that a lot of people never thought possible, e.g., a lot of the server monitoring stuff and we have over a 1000 jobs that run out of it on a nightly basis.”

“I find it super flexible,” said Peter M. “Every time that I ask if the solution can do something, they say, ‘Yes.’ I have not been able to come up with a challenge so far that they have not been able to do.”

Shaun G., a Senior Operations Administrator at Illinois Mutual, a small insurance company, echoed this sentiment, saying, “It’s a very flexible product. We’re just over a year in and we’re still getting our feet wet and realizing its potential.”

For Georg J., ActiveBatch’s value came from the fact that it’s “quite customizable because it supports many different platforms and technologies, and it covers almost everything we need to set up different jobs in our environment.”

In his case, this means supporting Windows and Unix servers as well as Apache ActiveMQ, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server databases and Microsoft Active Directory.

A Desire for Ease of Management

Job scheduling solutions need to be easy to manage. That was the consensus of IT Central members.

As Mike S. explained, “ActiveBatch also provides us with a single pane of glass for end-to-end visibility of workflows. That simplifies the process when we check to see if things have run or how they’re running. The Map View feature makes it easy to see what the dependencies are. It’s helpful to have a visual, top-down look, from start to finish, at what flows are running when you need to look into that.”

To learn more about what real users think about ActiveBatch, visit IT Central Station.


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