On-Demand Webinar

Next Generation Job Scheduling

Your Job Schedule Has Never Looked So Good!


Robot Schedule has gone mobile with a new browser interface featuring a responsive design that adjusts itself to fit your preferred device, from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones. It’s easy to deploy, allows secure mobile access, and has new functionality allowing greater insight into your critical processes.

Naturally, we can’t wait to show it to you!

During this 30-minute webinar, you’ll see all the bells and whistles available only in the web interface, including:

  • User-definable dashboards providing key metrics for critical jobs
  • Active job flow diagrams displaying everything running right now
  • Critical jobs lists showing a cross-partition view of critical job status
  • Guest dashboards offering visibility for executives, no user profile required

The Robot Schedule web user interface also contains current user favorites, including Schedule Activity Monitor (SAM), job schedule list, and ability to view all active jobs, job logs, and spooled files to help facilitate your work management without accessing a green screen or updating a desktop GUI.


A complete transcript of the webinar is below.


Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar, Next Generation Job Scheduling. Coming to you from beautiful Eden Prairie located right here in Minnesota in the USA. Thanks for joining us today and good afternoon or good evening if you're listening to us from Europe or somewhere in that direction.

Chuck Losinski:                So today we're going to be discussing with you the latest generation of job scheduling from HelpSystems. We've recently released a new mobile component for our robot schedule tool based on a responsive web design. It includes new features that make monitoring and analysis of your schedule easy and convenient wherever you are.

Chuck Losinski:                My name is Chuck Losinski and I am the Director of Automation Technology for the robot product line here at HelpSystems. And everyday I have the honor and privilege of speaking with our customers to discuss solutions we have for automation, business intelligence, and security on IBM i as well as other server technology.

Chuck Losinski:                And I'm joined today by both Sarah Williams and Patrick Toninato from our support staff. And good afternoon guys. How are you doing?

Sara Williams:                  Doing great, thank you.

Patrick T.:                         Doing good.

Chuck Losinski:                Awesome. Sarah, give us a short rundown on what is a research technical consultant? What do you do for HelpSystems and what products do you support?

Sara Williams:                  Okay, well research technical consultant is a second-level support person here. We do everything from testing customer issues, helping them with proof of concept, to testing defects in the product and the fixes before they go out in our masters. And the products that I support start at Robot Schedules, Schedule Enterprise, Robot Replay, Robot Council, Robot Alert, Auto-Tune, Robot Save Space. There's a few others in there but pretty much the entire robot product line.

Chuck Losinski:                Awesome. Awesome. And how long have you been with HelpSystems?

Sara Williams:                  I have been with HelpSystems a little over 21 years.

Chuck Losinski:                Holy moly. Okay. And Patrick. Okay. Patrick is a technical consultant for HelpSystems. What does a technical consultant do? And Patrick, what products do you support?

Patrick T.:                         All right. Hello everyone. I'm Patrick, the technical consultant. I'm basically the first line of support for robot products, so I support schedule alert, council, network, space, replay, report, schedule, enterprise. And I'm pretty much in the queue for everything else though. There's quite a good chance if you call about anything you'll get me.

Chuck Losinski:                And I believe Skybot Scheduler as well, right?

Patrick T.:                         Oh yes, yep. And Skybot.

Chuck Losinski:                Awesome. And how long have you been with HelpSystems?

Patrick T.:                         Years, Chuck. Two years.

Chuck Losinski:                Yeah. Not quite as long as Sarah. Okay, well let's get down to business here. What we're going to do is we're going to talk about this new modern interface that we have for Robot Schedule. It's actually based on browser architecture that we introduced more than a year ago for Robot Network. And you'll see today that we have much more in store for this tool across our brands. So let's get started.

Chuck Losinski:                So our plan today is, first of all, just to spend a minute talking about why a web interface for Robot Schedule. We're going to talk a little bit about the progression from green screen to web for Robots Schedule. And then we're going to jump right into a live demo and talk to you about some of the new features. And we're also going to show you what it looks like today on an iPhone.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. So one of the initiatives across the IBM i marketplace is application modernization. HelpSystems did a survey last year. We had a quite a few respondents to the survey. And the question was, or one of the questions was, what are your top concerns and what's your plan for your It environment over the next five to 10 years? And number one, not surprisingly, is application modernization.

Chuck Losinski:                Probably overriding over everything is probably security, right? Security is number one. But as far as other concerns, application modernization. So, of course, this effort by HelpSystems for the robot product line absolutely plugs into that very well.

Chuck Losinski:                So why a web interface? One of the concerns that we've had from customers is the fact that for instance, our graphical user interface has to be installed on each individual PC. And that in some cases might require a change management approval before you can actually install an update to our graphical interface.

Chuck Losinski:                So with the web interface we've got a lower administrative cost, easy to deploy, smaller footprint because there is nothing to install on the PC and all you need is a web browser. So easy to keep updated. You've only got one instance of the Robot Schedule interface to keep updated. And if you're sitting in a meeting and you still need to deal with something in the robot, whether it's performance-related with Robot Network or scheduling-related with Robot Schedule, you've got mobile access. And you're going to see today how you have very deep visibility into the processes there. I think you're going to be pretty impressed by what you see.

Chuck Losinski:                Totally new is the dashboard technology that we deployed with Robot Network is also being applied to Robot Schedule. So now you're going to see various metrics available for Robot. We'll be showing you how to set those up. And the interface, the web interface, supports Robots Schedule data from multiple instances of Robot Schedule across multiple servers. So job completion history, for instance. You can get that consolidated into one interface through the web, through this web interface.

Chuck Losinski:                And application modernization. So the folks that maybe don't really understand IBM i, but they could see a browser interface and they go, "Wow, that's a modern tool." Well, that absolutely is what we're driving for here. So the progression of Robot Schedule looks like this. Back in 1984, when the Robot Schedule was released, it was released for the System 38 predecessor to the AS400. So through the progression of System 38, AS400, I series, and IBM i, the robot schedule tool morphed from just a IBM i batch scheduling tool to an enterprise scheduling tool where the engine is still IBM i-based.

Chuck Losinski:                And, of course, through that time the interface changed from green screen to graphical and now of course to web. So when the product was first introduced, green screen of course reigned. Still a lot of people using green screen out there of course. And our green screen interface is still in place and available. Sara, you remember very well when the graphical interface was introduced in 2006.

Sara Williams:                  Yes, it was definitely-

Chuck Losinski:                I remember That was a while ago now. Yeah. And of course now the new operations console. So the new Robot Schedule web interface as part of a roadmap for this web architecture to become our operations console as it also includes our Robot Network operations interface and ultimately will include other products such as Robot Console, Robot Space, Robot Alert. And it's the same browser architecture being used for our Power Tech Security brand.

Chuck Losinski:                Now our next release of the tool will also incorporate mixed dashboard widgets, so you'll be able to see both Robot Network, system monitoring, and performance information as well as Robot Schedule metrics all in the same dashboard. Speaking of dashboards, they're completely new to Robots Schedule, as is the guest dashboard feature. Now you're able to configure a dashboard, for instance, for your CIO or some other interested party without the need for an IBM i profile. Also authentication to access the browser can either be directly to an IBM i user profile or through an LDAP server. And we're going to show you what that looks like today in the demonstration.

Chuck Losinski:                Another completely new feature is the business window. So if you're concerned about your day-end process or maybe processes that run 4:00 PM to midnight, what you can do is you can define a business window to track the activity during that time period. And for instance, if jobs don't run during the correct time, Robot's going to tell you. It's kind of like Robot ESP.

Chuck Losinski:                All right. The job flow diagram was completely redesigned in the web interface. And ultimately it shows you the same information as it did and the GUI interface where we had the blueprint. So you can drill down into job properties and job history and you can override jobs from this interface. But we've made some changes regarding the organization of the diagram and we've also added a play button that allows you to turn this diagram into an active job flow diagram.

Chuck Losinski:                So you can see there are some boxes here that look a little bit different than the other boxes. And that's showing you through animation and through highlighting the jobs that are currently active in your job schedule. And it also shows you the jobs that had completed, and that's this box here in the middle of the screen. So that's the active job flow diagram.

Chuck Losinski:                If you're currently using the GUI interface for robot schedule, this should look very familiar to you. It's got all the same functionality as the GUI for drill-down diagnostics and overrides, etc. However, you can also take the option on a job to launch directly into a diagram so that you can see the job dependencies. And how about accessing a job log from an iPhone or a tablet? If you're sitting in a meeting, you can absolutely do that from this interface. So it's very easy to access all this information. For instance, through Safari on an iPhone. And we're going to show you that today, we're going to actually do an iPhone demonstration for you live.

Chuck Losinski:                Another completely new feature is the idea of what's called a reactivity chain. Reactivity chains are very similar to job flow diagrams, but they're really laser-focused on diagramming only those jobs that are necessary for you to get from point A to point B. For instance, notice this nightly group job where on the previous diagram it was broken out into its individual opponents. But here you just see the group job definition itself because we're just showing you the critical path for getting from point A to point B. That is a reactivity chain.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. So let's jump into a live demo of the Robot Schedule web interface. okay, so I haven't logged in yet. I have entered in my name and password, and at the bottom it says my IBM i authentication is provided by Wisdom. Wisdom is one of my IBM i systems. I also said you could authenticate to an LDAP server. So Sarah, why don't you talk to us a little bit about how and where you would install the webserver component.

Sara Williams:                  The web server component's going to be installed either on a Windows server or on a Unix Linux-type server. That way we can make the most out of using Java on those platforms. And then we can connect to and authenticate to the IBM i.

Chuck Losinski:                Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. All right. I'm going to go ahead and log in. And first of all I'm going to show you my web dashboard. Now my web dashboard is preassigned, so this is automatically going to be popping up as the, there we go, as the web interface launches.

Chuck Losinski:                Now because this is based on browser technology, you can see that you can decrease or increase the size of the data inside of the browser. So if you're having a little bit of an issue with seeing the data on the screen or if you like to have a lot of data on the screen, you can certainly do that.

Chuck Losinski:                And also if you're working on a tablet or an iPhone, you can simply use the pinch to zoom. That absolutely works. Now these dashboard widgets that you see, they can expand. So for instance, if I expand my business window for my daily backups, okay, you can expand them. Or if it's a graph of some type. For instance, here's my statistics around job monitoring. I can expand that as well.

Chuck Losinski:                As far as some of the default settings, from a user standpoint, the user is going to define what IBM i systems that they want to connect to by associating a user ID to those systems. Also, you can define a default user profile and then assign that default profile to your various systems. And then there's the preferences themselves. So for instance, my default dashboard is my web user interface webinar dashboard. It could be something else. For instance, maybe I want my system summary or my status center or just my jobs list.

Chuck Losinski:                I've defined my default IBM i system, so you can see my Wisdom system is listed here. I can select the other systems and I'll show you what that looks like in just a second. I've got my schedule activity monitor scheduled to automatically refresh every five minutes. I'll see the latest and greatest data on the screen. And then further down you'll see my network preferences. So that's the Robot Network. If you're using Robot Network, that's also a component here that can be included in the web user interface so you can get information around system performance and a consolidated message center as well, known as the host center.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay, let's start with some familiar-looking things. First of all, I'm going to start with the homepage. Okay. So the homepage summarizes the schedule activity monitor first of all at the top. So the data from the schedule activity monitor shows you what's forecasted, what's active, as well as what's finished for the day. And if I click on one of these bars, it drills down into the recent activity and shows you what's included in that, in that graph bar. And then down below, it also summarizes information for 6, 12, 24, and 48 hours. So it shows you on my two Robot Schedule servers how many jobs ran, how many completed normally, abnormally, etc. And I can expand that out to be a 12 hour summary, a 24 hour summary, and so on.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Now let's jump into the individual jobs. So navigating around jobs is always sometimes kind of an issue. For instance, if you've got hundreds or thousands of jobs, you may need to look at a subset of your jobs. So for instance, if I want to look at all the jobs associated with my accounting application, I can simply type in accounting at the top and I see my jobs that are associated with that. Or for instance, maybe I want to look at all my jobs that are associated with a particular Robot Schedule enterprise agent, HF2128, these are my agent-type jobs.

Chuck Losinski:                Now, how does the web interface know what to search? Up here in the toolbar, it shows you your search and sort options, and it's showing you search by agent, search by application, search by job ... Search by description or search by job name.

Chuck Losinski:                So for instance, I might just want to search by CL. If CL is in my job name, then that's what's going to be displayed. Okay, now let's drill into one of these jobs. Over here on the right hand side, in fact, let's go full screen here for a moment. Over here on the right hand side, you'll see three little dots and that's our prompt area. So from here, for instance, you can see we have a do now option. So you could do an override of some kind. For instance, you might want to omit a job or place a job on hold or release the job.

Chuck Losinski:                You may want to look at job properties. So let's take a look at job properties next. Okay. Now something to keep in mind with job properties is that you're looking at this data in view only. There's not an edit mode in the web interface for changing a robot job. This is an operator console. You can override a job, you can look at diagnostic information, you can look at spool files, you can look at history, but you can't make a change to a job. For instance, I can't change the command in a job. I can't change the schedule of a job. But I can see, for instance, what are the dependencies associated with this particular job. And it says, robot job CL nightly status completed will trigger this particular job.

Chuck Losinski:                If I want to look at job completion history, I certainly can do that. And from here, I can see I have a warning here, but I'm going to look at the last instance of this job running. And I'm looking at the spool files associated with this job. Now just think of doing this with a tablet in a meeting, let's say, and you've got some analysis to do. Somebody sent you a text message or something with some questions or an issue and you're going to drill into your job to look for maybe information embedded in a spool file or possibly a job log. All right, I'm able to access all that information through this interface. Okay, next let's look at the schedule activity monitor.

Chuck Losinski:                So once again, you're in a meeting and somebody sends you a text message or an email saying, "Well, I've got this process. I'm waiting for these invoices to be processed." Well, here's my invoicing job. It's in the active column. So I could drill into that job and I could say, "Well, show me the job log." It's going to retrieve the active job log. And sure enough, there's my message that needs to be managed.

Chuck Losinski:                Or perhaps I might be interested in a report showing me this data kind of on an overall view. I could do that. I can create a report right from this interface and I can print that out. That could be used as some kind of a check sheet or a checklist or something like that, showing me all the jobs that are represented in the schedule activity monitor.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Another way I can look at this data is through group history. So if you use group jobs in Robot Schedule, you can see I have a number of group jobs that have ran today, my nightly process as well as my robot save group, I can drill down into the group and I can look at the individual jobs to see whether or not they ran normally or abnormally.

Chuck Losinski:                So any one of these can be expanded and once again I can drill down into the properties of the job spool files, job completion history, to see what it's done before. Maybe in previous weeks or previous months depending on how much data that you do keep.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Another very important enhancement that we've shipped with this is the idea of critical jobs. What you can do with critical jobs is you can tell Robot, "Okay, there are certain jobs in my system that I want to keep real close eye on." For instance, maybe my backup jobs. All right, so I've defined a list of critical jobs called backups, and the technology that this uses to identify the jobs in a robot that you're interested in is a robot query. If you've never created or used the robot query function that's built into Robot Schedule, feel free to call tech support.

Chuck Losinski:                Call Patrick or one of our other tech support folks that work on the Robot product line and they'll show you how to create a robot query. So once you've created the robot query on your individual systems that support Robot Schedule, you can then add it to this critical jobs list. As you can see, I've got two systems using this query called backups. So what can I do with that? Well, for instance, and I'm going to just pick on my accounting critical jobs list. I could, for instance, go into the schedule activity. And what that's going to do is it's going to show me now a subset of my job schedule activity. I'm only looking at my critical jobs now, I'm not looking at all those operational jobs, for instance.

Chuck Losinski:                So we've already looked at my invoicing job that's waiting for a reply, but I might be interested, for instance, in looking at what jobs this invoicing job affects or what were the prerequisites. Are there any downstream jobs? So from this interface, I can create a job flow diagram. As you can see, my invoicing job is at the very end of the job stream and it looks like my nightly process is what's actually triggering the invoicing process. But what I'm going to do now is I'm actually going to trigger my nightly process.

Chuck Losinski:                All right. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to watch the activity. And what's you're going to see now is that these two boxes are pulsing. Okay. The pulsing is indicating that these processes are active. Sarah, do you have any comments about this process, this active job flow diagram?

Sara Williams:                  Yeah, the big thing to remember when you're working with the live job flow diagram is that we are actually running, executing that job and all its commands and all of its programs, at that time. So the only way to see it actually running live is either by doing a do on the job that you want to start with or by making sure that you're coming into the live job flow diagram at a time when the job is scheduled to run. So this is not a simulation. And I think that's one of the things that we want to get through to people. Because we've been asked that several times. Is this really just a simulation? Nope, we're actually executing your jobs.

Chuck Losinski:                Right. So when I did a do on my job, it actually submitted it. So as you can see here, we've got some jobs that have completed. My nightly process has completed. And so every 30 seconds it's going out and it's getting the latest and greatest data from this interface.

Chuck Losinski:                Now also we've created something called a reactivity chain, and this is your starting point, my daily backup, and my ending point, which is my invoicing process. We're going to validate that. There has to be a relationship or a connection somewhere between these two jobs. And then what you can do here is you can, once again, you can diagram that entire process. So it's going from the beginning to the end of that critical path. And this can also be changed to a live process as well.

Chuck Losinski:                As far as the dashboard feature goes, if you want to create a dashboard, you simply give it a name. For instance, CIO dashboard. You can make this shared so other users of the interface can also use this dashboard. You can also make it a guest dashboard. Choose how many columns you want. In this case, we're going to make it three columns. And then you simply choose the information that you want to have included on the dashboard. And voilà, you have created your first dashboard.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Now what does this information look like on an iPhone? Let's take a look at that. There we go. Here is our Robot Schedule web interface on a dashboard. And we'll go ahead and log in.

Sara Williams:                  On an iPhone.

Chuck Losinski:                On an iPhone. This is an iPhone. You could also do this on an Android. So for instance, let's say that I wanted to navigate to the schedule activity. I could certainly do that. So here's my forecasted jobs. I'm just going to scroll up. Here's my active jobs. Here's my completed jobs. So if I want it to drill in, for instance, to a job log on this particular instance of this job running, I could certainly do that. And of course, I can go horizontal. So if I'm in a meeting and I need to do some diagnostics, I can definitely scroll through that information quick and easy. Possibly I might want to look at my reactivity chain, possibly.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. So let's see what that looks like. Okay. So here's my reactivity chain. Very easy to work with. And once again, I can drill into the properties of my job. I could override my job, I could execute a job, all from this single interface. As far as the dashboards go, there's my CIO dashboard. I just created that. And here's my statistics that are being displayed. Job history, jobs completed, job monitoring statistics, job metrics, and so on.

Chuck Losinski:                Very slick interface. I'm really impressed with how well it works on an iPhone. After all, after starting on a green screen like many of us, this is pretty cool technology. And cool thing is is you're looking at Robot Schedule stuff that's based on IBM i.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. So advantages to this technology, of course, we talked about lower administrative costs, smaller footprint, mobile, modern interface. Boy, a lot of good things that are available to you. And at this point, I'd like to open it up to questions. Patrick, what do we have for questions?

Patrick T.:                         All right. We had some good questions during the session. First, just to make it clear, this, it does work on more than just iPhone and iPad and Apple products. It's browser-based, so any devices you have a browser on, you should, as long as your network is configured correctly, you should be able to reach it and log in and see your jobs.

Patrick T.:                         Let's see here. A question from earlier, someone was asking, the browser can be opened in multiple tabs at a time, which you can take advantage of having your schedule activity monitor open in one tab, your completion history in the other. And that's absolutely possible with the web user interface. There's a lot of functionality there.

Chuck Losinski:                So you can also bookmark those pages, right?

Patrick T.:                         Yep. You can also bookmark them so you can get there fast. As far as the license fee goes for the web user interface, there is no license fee. Any current user for Schedule or Network can log into the website, download, install it, and get up and running pretty quickly. Well, they could do it right now if they wanted to. It is available right now. Let's see here. Okay. It also requires -

Sara Williams:                  So let's [crosstalk 00:29:22]. Excuse me, Patrick. I was just going to say, let's be clear, if you have a license already for Robot Schedule, then you can download the HelpSystems web server and install the Robot Schedule portion of that. And if you also have Robot Network then you can get the Robot Network portion also.

Patrick T.:                         Right.

Sara Williams:                  Okay, cool.

Patrick T.:                         Okay. I'm sorry Chuck?

Chuck Losinski:                Oh, I was just going to say any other questions? We've got about a one more minute.

Patrick T.:                         Okay. Just one more quick question. Someone is asking if there's any kind of configuration that needs to be done on the IBM i side for it to connect. And there's nothing that needs to be done on the IBM i side. You just install the web user interface on your server and then from the user interface you direct it to the IBM i to connect it.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. And we do have a question about security. Can you guys talk to that for a minute?

Sara Williams:                  Sure. As far as security goes, we are using Robots Schedule security and the IBM i security. So if a user is not allowed to get into a job via the GUI or via the green screen, they're going to have that same kind of security enforced in the web user interface.

Chuck Losinski:                Got it. And as far as versions of Robot Schedule or Robot Network, any restrictions there?

Sara Williams:                  No, with Robot Schedule, I believe it can be as low as 10 mod 32? I say questioningly. It is documented on the website. And I believe it is Network 11, and I don't know what mod level, again that's on the website also.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Okay, good. So if anybody really wants the detailed information about compatibility, they should contact technical support, or is that in the documentation on the website?

Sara Williams:                  That documentation's all on the website. If a user goes to, logs into our website and goes to their account and then selects Robot for the product line, then they'll be able to see the HelpSystems web server and they'll be able to download it from there. And when you download that, and as you install, you can choose Robot Schedule and Robot Network or just do one or the other.

Chuck Losinski:                Okay. Excellent. And that brings us to the end of our webinar time. Appreciate everybody joining us for the presentation. You'll be getting a link to the recording in the next day or two. I also want to thank my partners, Sarah and Patrick. Thank you for helping out with the webinar and answering those questions and providing some technical guidance. And everybody have a great day and a great weekend and we'll see you on a upcoming webinar. Bye-bye.

Sara Williams:                  Thanks everybody.

Patrick T.:                         Thanks, everyone.

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