Job Scheduling Options from HelpSystems

June 27, 2016

You’ve known for years that you need a more sophisticated scheduling tool for automating the applications and administrative tasks running on the servers in your data center. Cron, Windows Task Scheduler, and the built-in, native IBM i job schedule entries don’t allow dependencies, have no reporting or notification options, and allow no flexibility around dynamically calculating parameter values.

At HelpSystems, we have three job scheduling solutions that can be used individually or in combination, depending on your needs or what you may already have in place.

Solution #1: Robot SCHEDULE and Robot SCHEDULE Enterprise

What Is It?

Robot SCHEDULE has been automating IBM i batch work for over 30 years. With the Enterprise plug-in to Robot SCHEDULE, you have the added ability to incorporate cross-platform dependencies; task, process, and service monitoring; and file and directory event monitoring on multiple servers. 

All the features you expect for flexible scheduling, parameter calculation, interfaces to popular ERP applications, and notification if a task ends abnormally or runs too long or too short are there. Many tools are incorporated from the graphical interface, including a monitoring dashboard, job and event completion history, auditing of job changes, and several built-in reports.

Job scheduling with Robot also gives you the ability to incorporate FTP, FTPS, and MS SQL jobs, and with the SAP and Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne interfaces, you can incorporate true completion status dependencies into your schedule.

Figure 1: Robot SCHEDULE Job Flow Diagram

Is Robot Right for Me?

You will want to use Robot SCHEDULE and Robot SCHEDULE Enterprise if your needs match any of the following scenarios:

  1. You are primarily an IBM i shop and don’t have a need to automate distributed systems.
  2. IBM i is the cornerstone of your business and you don’t want to rely on a scheduling tool from an external platform for job and task management on your i.
  3. You are IBM i-centric, it is your primary business application machine, but you have distributed systems Linux, Windows, and UNIX tasks to run, some cross-platform.
  4. You already own Robot SCHEDULE and want to incorporate Windows, UNIX, and Linux dependencies or simply leverage your investment by adding a centralized scheduler for all platforms.

Solution #2: Skybot Scheduler

What Is It?

Skybot Scheduler is an enterprise job scheduler that is hosted on Windows, AIX, or Linux and has agents for those platforms and IBM i. Skybot is easy to deploy and offers a browser interface and integrated monitoring dashboard. 

Skybot also has many robust scheduling and event dependency scheduling options, parameter calculation features, and a web services API. It has interfaces into popular applications such as SAP NetWeaver, Oracle E-Business Suite, and Informatica.

If you already own Robot SCHEDULE, you can also trigger Robot jobs from Skybot and vice versa.

Figure 2: Skybot Dashboard

Is Skybot Right for Me?

You will want to use Skybot Scheduler if your needs match any of the following scenarios:

  1. You don’t have IBM i in your data center.
  2. You already have Robot SCHEDULE, your distributed systems are managed separately, and you don’t mind having two distinct schedulers to maintain.
  3. You want a scheduler that is optimized for the distributed systems environment.
  4. You use AIX, Linux, or Windows as your primary application server and have very few IBM i jobs to incorporate into a schedule, but you still want a centralized scheduler.
  5. You may be transitioning away from IBM i and don’t want to invest in a scheduler based on that platform, but you still want to have a centralized scheduler that also can handle IBM i tasks. 

When Would I Combine Skybot with Robot SCHEDULE?

You want to have a tool that is optimized for applications running on distributed systems (e.g., Informatica and Web Services) and are also a heavy IBM i user with some cross-platform dependencies. In this scenario, it’s best to use the combination of Robot SCHEDULE on IBM i and Skybot with their built-in cross-schedule interfaces.

Solution #3: AutoMate and AutoMate BPA Server

What Is It?

When you need to automate complex business and IT processes across distributed servers but don’t want to build scripts or batch files, AutoMate has hundreds of built-in task automation functions for the Windows environment and triggers that allow reaction to many Windows events.

Tasks can be triggered through a schedule, through a file event, at a CPU or memory performance threshold, when an SNMP trap is received, during server startup or login, from the Windows event log, a keyboard shortcut, or many other events. You can also monitor MS SQL Server or Oracle databases and fire off task execution when a specific command is performed in the database.

AutoMate offers a built-in library of over 600 drag-and-drop actions and activities, including tasks for Microsoft Exchange, MS Dynamics CRM, Amazon Web Services, Active Directory, and SharePoint. Even Facebook, PDF, OCR, Image, PowerShell, and WMI actions are included. 

AutoMate BPA has a server-client architecture and offers the additional capability of visual workflow creation, centralized management, and cross-system dependencies.

Figure 3: AutoMate BPA Server Workflow Designer

Is AutoMate Right for Me?

You will want to use AutoMate or AutoMate BPA Server if your needs match any of the following scenarios:

  1. Windows is your primary application server and you do not have IBM i, Linux, or UNIX automation needs.
  2. You do not want to write scripts or batch files.
  3. Your automation requirements for Windows are complex.

When Would I Combine AutoMate and Skybot?

You have multiple open systems platforms outside of Windows to coordinate the scheduling. Your Windows automation needs are complex and require more than command line automation. In this scenario, it’s best to use Skybot to trigger an AutoMate process and return control to Skybot when the AutoMate task in Windows is complete. Skybot will control the overall task scheduling for your entire data center.

When Would I Combine AutoMate and Robot SCHEDULE Enterprise?

You are IBM i-centric but have complex Windows automation needs that must be coordinated with IBM i tasks. Trigger AutoMate tasks through the Robot SCHEDULE Enterprise agent and return control to IBM i when the task is complete. Robot SCHEDULE will ultimately control the overall needs of your data center scheduling and reporting, but AutoMate will execute your complex Windows tasks.

Whatever your strategic platform, HelpSystems can automate your workload. For help determining whether a single scheduling solution is right for you or if your data center complexity demands a combination, don’t miss the HelpSystems enterprise job scheduling webinar.

Our automation experts are also available for personal consultations and live product demonstrations. Email us to discuss your specific needs with a technical solutions team member. 


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