Sidebar: Workload automation tools
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There’s never enough time in the day, even more so if the organization is growing and operates across multiple time zones.

That was the problem faced by the IT department of B.C.’s Graymont Services, which says it’s the second largest supplier of lime and lime-based products in North America.

The material is used in a wide variety of industries, from the processing of gold and copper to making steel to municipal water treatment plants.

Paul Epp, the company’s business analytics manager, recalled that until seven years ago was able to cope with manually scheduling overnight jobs including backing up data from its J.D. Edwards enterprise resource management suite and processing reports through Cognos BI and Enterprise Planning applications.

But with some 400 data movements a night that had to be choreographed over six hours and offices across the country, time was a problem

“We had built up a very complex ETL process to pull all of our data into our data warehouses,” he said. But “it was becoming very difficult to manage when there are errors, difficult to make changes without introducing errors. And we definitely had a constraint with the systems we had — there wasn’t enough time in our night window to get all the jobs done.”

Eventually the company turned to one of the many job scheduling suites on the market, ActiveBatch from Advanced Systems Concepts Incd.

It gave Graymont the capability to scale our other systems across multiple servers, and scale the data integrations across many of the company’s applications, including JDE and Cognos, Epp said. It would also give much needed logging and error checking, as well as daily reports.

ActiveBatch, now on version 9, offers a wide range of extensions that work with Microsoft applications including System Center Operations Manager and related components, Active Directory, SQL Server, Exchange, and the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

There’s no shortage of workload automation software vendors, including BMC Control-M, CA Workload Automation, Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler, Stonebranch, and IBM Tivoli Workload Scheduler.

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In looking for the right solution IT managers have to remember that the cloud has had a big impact on scheduling jobs, notes Steve Brassen, managing research director of Enterprise Management Associates. Solutions have take into account that workloads are placed in increasingly dynamic environments, with options including virtual servers, private/public/hybrid clouds.

A solution may also have to be able to take into account whether the infrastructure can support all these options, whether the organization tiers workloads and scheduling requirements that may change week to week.

Some include workload analytics that can aggregate jobs into streams, and connect those streams to business goals.

Remember, too, that these days for some organizations there is no night window for processing jobs – staff may be accessing apps from around the world at any time “so placing those workloads has to be more meticulous than it was before.”

And while solutions feature sets are increasing, enterprises should also consider how easy a suite is to deploy, how much maintenance it requires and price.

Robin Reddick of BMC’s solutions marketing team, mentioned in an interview that giving members of business units rather that operations the power to self service the running of reports is increasingly important.



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