For budding companies, server sprawl may be just one of many growing pains—a temporary inconvenience for a greater good. But if you’re struggling to complete processes on time, stalling with the auditors, and jumping from server to server whenever an error occurs, it’s time to ask the tough questions.
With these 9 questions (plus a little time tracking and patience), your server farm will justify the cost of an enterprise job scheduler and get your team back on track.
1. How much time do your developers and/or system administrators spend writing scripts for schedule dependencies? What is the cost of that time?
2. What projects and innovations are being delayed because your developers are writing scripts to manage your scheduled tasks?
3. How much time does Operations spend managing resources, like file movements, that are needed for tasks to complete successfully? What is the cost?
4. How much application downtime has been caused because tasks became active before resources were available? What is the cost of that downtime?
Justification: An enterprise scheduler makes it easy to build job streams that check for resources before it starts. An enterprise scheduler also automates dependencies across multiple applications, servers, or platforms. With the time they save as a result, your developers will be free to take on more challenging projects.
5. How much time does your Operations staff spend monitoring the status of tasks across your servers? What is the cost of that time?
6.How are you notified of errors? Is the notification immediate or does it cause delays or gaps in the schedule?
Justification: It’s important to be in control of your data center processing. Having to log in to many servers to view or change the schedule of tasks can be time consuming and prone to error.
An enterprise scheduler's central console lets you manage the schedules across all your servers. You can see the status of all active processes, see forecasted processes, and change schedules on any server in your network. If the change affects a process on another server, you’ll see that too. Plus, it's easy to set up automatic notification whenever an error or scheduling discrepancy does occur.
7. When preparing an audit report, how long does it take you to gather information like job history and error codes, schedule downtime, delayed jobs, and schedule changes?
8. Are you taking hits from your auditors because you can't track changes to scheduled tasks?
9. Are your auditors unhappy because you can't easily manage access to the schedules across your servers and applications?
Justification: Having multiple servers makes it hard to audit changes and control access to your schedules. Built-in and free schedulers may track changes to the schedule for the single server it's installed on, but they won't let you see the big picture across your network of servers. Especially if you need to comply with data security requirements like PCI or Sarbanes-Oxley, you could spend way too much time collecting that data and getting it in a form that is usable for your auditors.
An enterprise scheduler should audit all changes to the schedule and each job across your network. The ideal enterprise scheduler will centralize all changes and history records are in a database on one server to make reporting quick and easy.
Why Answer Them?
Answering these questions may not earn you popularity points at first. But in time, your team will appreciate the many benefits of using an enterprise job scheduler.
Lessons from IBM's Former CEO
December marks a year since Sam Palmisano retired as CEO of IBM. Palmisano has been credited with transforming IBM from a good company to a great one and, more specifically, increasing company profits by 400% in 8 years.
When Palmisano took over in 2002, IBM had four separately managed businesses. Profits were $3.07 a share and the company’s return on equity was 16%. By 2010, IBM had become a single globally-integrated enterprise with profits $13.06 a share and return on equity 70%1.
Here’s Palmisano’s management philosophy summarized in 5 steps by Harvard Business School professor, Joseph Bower.
1. Harvard Business Review; “Sam Palmisano's Transformation of IBM,” in Harvard Business Review, blog post by Joseph L. Bower. 11:00 AM January 20, 2012.