When it comes to IT software, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a popular philosophy. Pat Cameron, Director of Automation Technology at HelpSystems, gets this—she’s a big believer in being cautious about making changes to your production environment. She used to work in operations, so she knows that you want to weigh the risks when you replace the systems and applications that keep your business running.
But she also knows that there comes a time to evaluate the costs of maintaining your legacy job scheduling software. In a recent webinar, Pat explained how to know when it’s time to replace your batch scheduler and how to migrate to a better option.
Do You Need to Replace Your Batch Job Scheduler?
Your job scheduling tool—or tools—were a good investment when you bought them. But maintenance costs tend to go up over time. Plus, new workload automation solutions have features that your scheduler may not have. Can your software execute both cloud and on-premise job schedules? Can it integrate with all of your existing business applications? Are you able to find out about potential problems in the job schedule from your mobile device while you’re away from the office?
If not, your job scheduling solution may be a bit outdated.
The biggest sign that your current job scheduler needs to be replaced is if you don’t have central control over all of your jobs. Most companies have jobs running on basic schedulers like cron or Windows Task Scheduler, jobs being executed by individual applications, and jobs automated by custom scripts. Your enterprise job scheduler should be able to consolidate all of these workflows under a central management console.
This means it needs support for cross-platform dependencies. A file arrival or change on one system should be able to kick off a job on a different system. This kind of functionality speeds up runtimes, reduces errors, and eliminates the need for your programmers to waste time writing custom scripts.
There are other features you’ll probably want to have in a modern job scheduler, including detailed audit logs and automatic notifications.
Choosing a New Job Scheduler
Evaluating enterprise software is a complex process. Pat recommends dividing your requirements into four categories: business requirements, functional requirements, technical requirements, and budget requirements. Gather these before you start evaluating software—don’t let vendors push you into features that aren’t beneficial or talk you out of features that are essential.
Your list should include both “need to have” and “nice to have” features.
Need help determining your unique job scheduling requirements? Download the Enterprise Scheduler Decision Toolkit.
Business Requirements: Make sure you know what business applications are running in your organization. What tasks do you currently have running and when to they run—weekly, daily, or ad-hoc? Even the ad-hoc jobs can be streamlined if, for example, you set them up to start running at the click of a button.
Functional Requirements: This list should come from the operations team. They have a broader view of the organization than business teams. Consider factors like how easy the product should be to use, what kind of event triggers it should have, and what systems it needs to support. Don’t forget to talk to the night shift operators if you have them.
Technical Requirements: Does your scheduler need to support development, test, or QA environments? What technical requirements do your auditors need you to meet? Do you need to get automatic notifications of problems?
Budget Requirements: You probably already know that you should consider software costs, maintenance costs, implementation costs, training costs, and support costs. But don’t forget to also consider the areas where your new scheduler will save you money. For example, you may have less downtime. You don’t have to pay your developers to write custom automation scripts. And eliminating human error will save you time and money as well.
Migrating to Automate Schedule
Once you’ve determined your job scheduling requirements, you can start talking to vendors about how their products meet your needs. We offer a comparison checklist for our enterprise job scheduler, Automate Schedule, to help you with your decision.
Automate Schedule provides many of the modern workload automation capabilities Pat talked about in the webinar, including:
- Central control and management
- Multi-platform support
- Automatic notifications
- Interface with help desk software
- Detailed audit logs
- Role-based security
- The Universal Connector
Automate Schedule makes migrating from a legacy scheduler easy, and we can even help you out with our migration services. You just export your schedules to a text file, send it to HelpSystems, and we’ll format it to be imported to Automate Schedule. For a small effort up front, modernizing your job scheduling solution will increase efficiency, save money, and support organizational growth.