The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Enterprise Job Schedulers

Windows, UNIX, Linux
March 20, 2017

Enterprise automation is increasingly critical, but it can be hard to sift through all the available information to figure out what kind of tool your business needs. That’s why we compiled answers to the most important questions about enterprise job schedulers, like: Just what is enterprise job scheduling (also known as workload automation) and how does it differ from the job schedulers I’m familiar with? Or, how do I know if I need an enterprise job scheduler?

What is Enterprise Job Scheduling?

Job scheduling software runs IT tasks automatically. Basic job schedulers—the kind that launch jobs on a single server at a certain time of day--have been around a long time. When we talk about enterprise-class job scheduling, we mean something a lot more advanced.

An enterprise job scheduler manages complex workflows across multiple servers and business applications. For example, rather than schedule a job to start at 3:00 every Monday, with an enterprise scheduler you could set it up to launch when a file arrives in a folder on another server. All the jobs running across your entire enterprise can be monitored from the job scheduler’s central console.

Usually enterprise job schedulers also have a variety of other features to keep business running smoothly, like notification and reporting abilities. 

Who Needs an Enterprise Scheduler?

There are a few industries where automation is especially indispensable. For example, banking and financial services. These companies process high volumes of file transfers that can’t realistically be managed manually or with any tool that lacks event-driven scheduling. Enterprise job schedulers are perfect for keeping files moving quickly and securely.

Retailers can also benefit greatly from enterprise scheduling. Say that every night you pull sales information from all your stores and send it to an ERP system. A basic automation tool could schedule this to happen for all stores at the same time each night. But what if no information is received from one of the stores? An enterprise job scheduler can allow for alternate paths in the job schedule. If the store in question is scheduled to be closed that day, the workflow will continue without that store’s information. If the store was open, a different next-step can be triggered, perhaps an error notification to the operator or a delay to wait for the data.

Like banks, hospitals have a great need for robust file transfer automation, as orders are constantly being sent to pharmacies and labs. Furthermore, hospitals run day and night and any downtime is unacceptable. A job scheduler monitors and manages important tasks 24/7.   

Regardless of industry, there are certain business processes that ought to be automated. For example, if you are using an ETL tool like Informatica to move large quantities of data, you are the perfect candidate for an enterprise job scheduler.  A built-in basic scheduler manages workflows within Informatica, but Informatica is usually just one part of an enterprise’s infrastructure. If a company wants to schedule their Informatica workflows together with their business intelligence applications, or if they want to sync Informatica data replication with their file transfers, they need an enterprise job scheduler.  

When Should You Invest in an Enterprise Job Scheduler?

A small business operating in a very simple environment might not need a comprehensive tool. Maybe you only have a server or two, no applications in the cloud, and a low volume of daily IT tasks. But modern enterprise environments are complex, and as your business grows it will become increasingly difficult to manage complex processes without workload automation.

The number one sign that you need enterprise job scheduling software is that you have cross-system dependencies--tasks that depend on things happening on another server. Regardless of what system a particular job is running on, you need it to be able to interact with any other job scheduled in the company.

A lot of businesses should invest in an enterprise-class automation tool, but they find workarounds that let them continue with inadequate software. For example, sometimes launching a process depends on the arrival of a certain file, but the basic tool the company is using doesn’t support event-driven job schedules. The operator schedules a delay in the workflow to give the file a chance to arrive before the next step of the process executes. However, if the file doesn’t arrive within the allotted time, the entire process will fail, and if it arrives early it will sit there wasting valuable time for the length of the delay.

If this scenario sounds familiar to you, it’s time for enterprise scheduling.

Where is Enterprise Scheduling Useful?

You can probably already see the value of an enterprise job scheduler to the IT department, but don’t neglect to examine how automation could benefit other parts of the company. Processes used by HR, accounting, sales, and more can be streamlined with the right software. Many departments are probably already automating within department-specific applications, and an enterprise scheduler can integrate those workflows with processes across the entire company.

Why Do You Need Enterprise Job Scheduling?

There’s no end to the specific problems that can be solved with an enterprise job scheduler, but there are a few themes that come up again and again:

Cost reduction: According to EMA survey research, the number one area where automation delivers the most business value is in reducing operational costs. Automating business processes minimizes the number of operators needed for each task, making the entire process less expensive. Once those employees are freed from their tedious manual tasks, they can engage in more productive, profitable work.

You’ve heard that time is money. One of the fundamental characteristics of workload automation is that it saves time for businesses. Besides eliminating time-consuming manual processes, an enterprise scheduler with event-driven scheduling reduces the time spent between each step of a workflow.

A huge cost for enterprises is unplanned downtime. An enterprise job scheduler with a high availability (HA) system protects you from downtime with real-time database replication to a standby server.

Peace of mind: Speaking of downtime, if there is a problem with your server, you want to know about it ASAP. An enterprise job scheduler will notify you of any issues immediately. It can also monitor your workflow on the job level or command level so you don’t have to.  

Simplicity: Your entire enterprise schedule is managed by one comprehensive tool that you can monitor from anywhere. What could be simpler than that?

For more details on the advantages of automation, take a look at this white paper on how workload automation benefits enterprises.

How to Get Started:

So you’ve decided you need an enterprise job scheduler. Now what? Here are some tips on how to implement your tool effectively:

If you aren’t automating at all yet, we recommend you start small. Automate all the jobs that run on a simple schedule, like files transferred daily or reports generated every Friday. Then move to the jobs with fairly easy dependencies and gradually work your way to the more complex processes, like those at month-end.

It’s more likely that you already have some basic automation software, but haven’t upgraded to an enterprise-class scheduler yet. A good enterprise job scheduler will be able to import your existing schedules from tools like cron or Windows Task Scheduler, and even run your custom scripts. The goal is to have every automated process in the enterprise integrated into a comprehensive job schedule.  



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