- About Us
One question new customers often ask is, “How do we start our automation project?" Should they start in the area that provides the greatest “pain relief," the area with the fastest return on investment, or the area with the greatest chance of success?
Step 1. Look To Your Run Book
In a perfect world, those would all be the same. So, we usually recommend starting with your run book. Over the years, the run book of operator procedures typically expands into a massive "piece of work," containing all the knowledge needed to run your daily, weekly, and monthly job schedules, and manage your report processing. As a result, your run book is a great place to start automating your job scheduling and system monitoring.
Automating your run book brings a great ROI and helps manage your pain as you:
- Reduce errors (Pain Point 1)
- Streamline processing time (Pain Point 2)
- Increase system availability (Pain Point 3)
- Avoid corrupted data (Pain Point 4)
- Prevent missed Service Level Agreements (Pain Point 5)
Step 2: Divide and Conquer
The best way to begin is to treat automation as a full-blown project and break it into manageable pieces. Start with daily tasks as a pilot project and organize them by company (in a multi-company environment) or by functional areas such as manufacturing, inventory management, accounts payable, financials, and so on. After you've targeted a company or functional area, assign someone to implement and own the project. (Don't forget to train on automation tools and have a software support line or consultant available for questions and help with special hurdles.)
Once you’ve decided on the first target area for automation and are working through the details, you might find that parts of you manual processes still seem too complex to automate. Again, break them into pieces. No task is so complicated, big, or important that it can't be broken down and implemented in stages.
Step 3: Spread Out and Finish Strong
After you’ve started automating your daily, weekly, and monthly job streams, apply the same project management techniques to begin automating system monitoring, backup and recovery procedures, report processing, and disk space analysis. Stick to the plan and you'll be successful, on time, and under budget.
By Chuck Losinski, Director of Automation Technology
Have you tried the Robot/SCHEDULE Schedule Activity Monitor, or SAM? SAM shows your Robot job schedule status for any system in your environment (both IBM i and non-IBM i). Its display refreshes automatically to give you an up-to-the-minute picture of your processes, and contains three columns of information:
- A 24-hour forecast of your job schedule. The forecast runs automatically at 1100 and 2300 hours (or on demand).
- Jobs that are currently active and jobs that have been submitted to a job queue.
- Completed jobs, including normal and abnormal terminations.
In SAM, simply right-click on a job to access:
- Job logs and spooled files
- Job setup properties and run history
- Override options to hold, run, or omit a job
Figure 1: Using SAM right-click options
The icon in the upper right-hand corner () allows you to display and modify your SAM preferences. Use the Activity Monitor Preferences window to customize the display:
- Exclude EVERY-type jobs from the forecast to remove clutter
- Color code completed jobs in the forecasted column
- Show only IBM i jobs, non-IBM i agent jobs, or both
- Exclude user jobs (non-Robot/SCHEDULE jobs) from the display
Figure 2: Specifying SAM preferences
If you haven't already, give SAM a try. You can access a lot of useful job information and manage your jobs, without ever having to look at a green screen.
By Chuck Losinski, Director of Automation Technology
Q1: What tools are available to help me convert Robot/CLIENT jobs to Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise Agent jobs?
A1: There are three very useful commands:
RBTRCLRPT (Convert RCLEXEC Jobs Report) Command
This command creates a series of reports that show how each Robot/SCHEDULE job that contains the RCLEXEC command will be converted to an Agent job.
RBTCVTRCL (Convert Jobs with RCLEXEC Cmd) Command
This command converts existing Robot/SCHEDULE jobs that use the Robot/CLIENT RCLEXEC command to Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise Agent jobs.
These commands let you specify selection criteria that identify the jobs to report on and/or convert. Note that the original jobs are not changed by these commands or the conversion process. The commands generate the following reports to help with your conversion:
- Successful Report (RBTRCLXP1)
- Warning Report (RBTRCLXP2)
- Error Report (RBTRCLXP3)
- Ineligible Jobs Report (RBTRCLXP4)
RBEANZRCL (Analyze Robot/CLIENT Usage) Command
This command searches for all (or specific) Robot/CLIENT commands, and Robot/SCHEDULE jobs or command sets that contain AUTORUN, RBTBCHUPD, or SNDRBTDTA commands. You can search Robot/SCHEDULE private and shared command sets, and CL source code in source files for these commands.
The command generates a report (RBE4091P) listing all jobs containing the RCLEXEC command. These jobs are not converted when you run the RBTCVTRCL command, so you must modify them manually.
Q2: Is there a way to back up or restore a specific IFS directory or group of directories?
A2: Yes, Robot/SAVE 12 offers IFS Groups that you can use to back up or restore the entire IFS, or specific IFS directories. For example, you could back up just the data you need for critical software applications like SAP.
Purchase any software solution from Help/Systems (Robot Automated Operations Solution); PowerTech (IBM i security solutions); SEQUEL Software (data access/analysis and productivity software); Bytware (anti-virus and monitoring solutions for IBM i) and enjoy big discounts on training, services, and IBM POWER7 systems. For details, contact your local IBM Business Partner, or visit our IBM i Solution Edition web page.