Ever wonder what the difference is between workload automation tools and job scheduling tools? Or, which option is right for your needs?
The terms workload automation and job scheduling are often used interchangeably. Workload automation and job scheduling are in fact closely related; however, workload automation tools cover a broader range of capabilities than traditional job scheduling tools.
In short, workload automation is an advanced, flexible form of a job scheduler.
Defining Workload Automation and Job Scheduling
A job scheduler is a tool for automating IT processes. In most cases, this is done on a platform-by-platform basis. For example, there are many native job schedulers built into operating systems. Microsoft Windows features Windows Task Scheduler, while Linux and UNIX platforms have cron as their native job scheduler. These job schedulers emerged as tools for executing tasks during the “batch window,”—that is, running batch jobs after hours when business processes are finished. Job scheduling tools take care of activities like database maintenance and prevent the need for operator intervention during the job schedule.
Workload automation is also a method for automating a series of background processes and back-office business systems. A workload automation tool may support multiple business applications and workflows that include cross-system dependencies. With the constant rise of new enterprise technologies, workload automation software satisfies the need to make sense of the many different (and traditionally siloed) schedulers used for disparate systems.
Workload Automation: A Transition to Broader Automation
Streamlining business processes is central to both workload automation and job scheduling, the difference being mainly one of scope. Workload automation can be thought of as a successor to job scheduling because it attempts to automate entire systems that may contain heterogeneous server environments and, by extension, disparate job schedulers.
Workload automation is very much a response to the rise of more complex business processes and diverse server and device platforms, as well as applications and web services that must support a broad cross-section of users. For these reasons, job scheduling on individual platforms is being woven into the larger process of workload automation. Workload automation extends the core benefits of job scheduling—automation and saving time by switching tasks from human to machine operators—to multiple platforms working in concert. Ultimately, this creates better compatibility with the huge set of third-party applications and operating systems now in use among businesses.
Workload Automation Trends
There has been plenty of incentive for businesses to adopt workload automation in recent years, especially as they continue to roll out complex ERP tools and other services that require coordination of operating systems and schedulers. Still, adoption of complete workload automation programs is in its early stages.
According to the HelpSystems Data Management Survey, less than half of enterprises feel that their applications and systems are fully integrated with data sources. This statistic reveals a pressing need for an automation solution that can work with any database or third-party application for centralized, enterprise-wide workload automation.
Using a workload automation tool like JAMS simplifies complex workflows and addresses some of the issues that might arise when using older or native job scheduling solutions. Some potential problems with more traditional scheduling tools are:
- Poor synchronization between different job schedulers
- No integrated or managed file transfer capabilities
- Difficulty of moving jobs across different platforms
- No compatibility with systems management solutions
- Limited ability to evaluate run times via service level management
Clearly, there’s a big opportunity for workload automation software to streamline activities like file transfers and data migration from one platform to another. In addition to those specific pain-points, enterprises have realized that sticking with siloed legacy job schedulers costs more in terms of personnel time and energy than implementing a modern solution.
Think you’re ready to choose a workload automation solution?
Use the WLA Buyer’s Guide to help you determine what questions to ask potential vendors, your budget, and more.