Improving Enterprise Workload Automation

Enterprise workload automation and job scheduling represent a mature segment of the IT world. Batch processing of administrative tasks is a chore that dates back to the time when computers were made out of vacuum tubes. But no matter how established it may be, enterprise workload automation is still ripe for improvement—there are always new efficiencies to be gained.

This was the challenge facing Vincent K., a data architect at San Francisco Public Works. As he described on IT Central Station, deploying the JAMS enterprise scheduling and workload automation solution helped his team become more productive, while also improving the accuracy of the tasks they were performing.

Use Cases

Vincent initially brought in JAMS for his group’s main use case, which is scheduling SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) batch jobs. In his organization, JAMS is proving to be quite versatile.

As he explained, “There are other groups who are using it for SQL Server stored procedures, [but] we also have another group using it for a few Python scripts and [Feature Manipulation Engine] FME, which is a different type of [Extract-Transfer-Load] ETL tool. So, we are using JAMS to schedule those four types of jobs as well as a bunch of [File Transfer Protocol] FTP jobs.”

His application developers default any batch jobs to JAMS. They migrate older jobs, “like Python scripts and SQL stored procedures and FME jobs over to JAMS. Even though the developers are mostly involved with interactive online applications. However, on occasions where they do need batch processes, they just use JAMS,” he said.

The Value of a Single Job Scheduler

Organizing and scheduling are essential to Vincent’s supervisory responsibilities. Jobs need to be documented and assigned, which was not possible with their previous scheduling tool. San Francisco Public Works had been using SQL Server’s built-in scheduler, which was, per Vincent, “fine, but it was impossible to look at things practically or even determine dependencies. So everybody was just using spreadsheets.”

In his previous job, Vincent had used a dedicated scheduling solution. When he began his role at San Francisco Public Works, he started to look for a suitable solution, eventually selecting JAMS. Choosing JAMS added a useful, intuitive piece to streamlining the workload. As he put it, “We went from everybody trying to keep track of stuff on Excel spreadsheets to being able to see things graphically.” He was able to determine whether “this job should not continue or start unless another job begins.”

He also commented, “Plus, we have a bunch of jobs that are using File Watchers. So, the job doesn’t start up until a file is put on a shared drive, which is the automation that JAMS provides that the old SQL Server agent did not do at all. It provides notifications.”

JAMS, as a single scheduler, relieves Vincent’s group not only from the burden of Excel spreadsheets, but also from being in the dark regarding definitive information of who was doing which batch jobs. He elaborated, saying, “The fact that we no longer need to use Excel spreadsheets is huge. Before JAMS, every group was keeping track of their own batch jobs. Nobody really knew what the other jobs were. So, if jobs failed, other groups wouldn’t necessarily know. With JAMS, everything is done through a single scheduler. You can choose who to notify.”

The company is on track to have all of its batch jobs managed by JAMS. Indeed, as Vincent noted, “we want to have a single scheduling tool that manages all our batch jobs.” JAMS is a logical solution for his organization because most of its jobs run at night. Other daily jobs run every half an hour. So, according to Vincent, “It has not been a huge strain on the JAM server.”

Metrics are an added bonus. Vincent said, “The fact that JAMS provides metrics is actually nice. Before it was a lot harder to get metrics, whereas there are now metrics if we want them.”

The Importance of Ease of Deployment

JAMS is easy to deploy. In the case of San Francisco Public Works, the deployment took less than an hour. Vincent shared, “We went from nothing, (and) just deployed all the new tasks first. We didn’t really have anything to convert because it was already there. Once we were comfortable using it, we started to expand the use of JAMS to start converting some of the SQL Server agent jobs into JAMS.”

Once the system was up and running, they migrated from an on-prem JAMS to JAMS on a Microsoft Azure virtual machine (VM). “That went without a hitch,” Vincent said. “I was quite surprised and impressed by how easy it was. Support also said, ‘If you need us, we can be on the line.’ We scheduled some time with them, but we never really used them.”

The Necessity of Knowing Dependencies

“It is critical having a scheduling tool that will show you where all the jobs are and what their dependencies have been when you are doing batch jobs,” Vincent said. He added, “In the past, SQL Server Agent jobs allowed you to do it, but you really needed the ability to look at interdependencies between jobs. That is what JAMS gives you.”

Alternatively, a workload automation solution can reveal things that had been previously hidden. As Vincent explained, “We have had situations where we would hide things and could never figure out how to actually get things back. Then we literally have to reach out to JAMS support. As far as kudos, JAMS support is excellent. They are very responsive. There have been little things like, ‘We lost a window. How do we get that back?’ The fact that you had to hover over a specific area of the UI, then depending on where you hovered, you could get that particular windowpane back. That was the first thing that we ran into, because it was like, ‘We lost this. How do we get this back?’”

To learn more about what IT Central Station members think about JAMS workload automation, visit https://www.itcentralstation.com/products/jams-reviews

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