Workload Orchestration: The Next Evolution in IT

As IT environments grow in complexity, companies are looking for ways to get a better handle on their workflows. While batch processing emerged as an early way to process more data without maximizing resources, businesses and technology have evolved and a new type of software has emerged—workload orchestration. Learn how we’ve entered this next chapter, and how workload orchestration is more than a tool. 

What is Workload Orchestration? 

Workload orchestration is the automated management of the entirety of an IT environment’s processes. This goes beyond batch processes that previously just managed scripts, but now incorporates cross-platform workflows, jobs, and other tasks. Workload orchestration enables organizations to automate, manage, and monitor all of their IT workflows through a centralized console. By implementing a workload orchestration tool, organizations can improve the efficiency, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of their IT operations. 

The evolution of batch processing 

Batch processing has come a long way from the days of mainframes and punch cards. Throughout the evolution of batch processing, the goal has always been to find a simplified way to manage the execution of multiple processes. In the early days, batch processing allowed businesses to process large amounts of data overnight, as to not overwhelm their systems during working hours. This is still a common use, but as IT environments have grown more complex, batch processing has expanded to more areas of the business, and on to more platforms—including the cloud. 

Now, more data is processed in real time over a large number of applications throughout an enterprise, and batch processing is typically more time-based and static in its automation. But that doesn’t mean batch processing has gone away. Batch processing is still included as part of greater workload orchestration, allowing businesses to use batches and event-driven scheduling to optimize efficiency by running processes as soon as resources are available. More complex and cross-platform workflows can be orchestrated—like report generation, ETL, and more—thanks to capabilities like parallel processing, state-driven dependency, recovery actions, and unique prerequisites.   

Workload orchestration vs batch processing  

Think of workload orchestration as the next step of batch processing. The main difference being that workload orchestration can automate any type of workload—including batch jobs—and batch processing is for specific type of jobs that are processed all at once. Batch processing with a batch scheduler typically only leverages time-based scheduling to run batch jobs on a single system or application that can’t run parallel with other processes. Workload orchestration still uses time-based scheduling, but takes things to the next level with event-driven scheduling that orchestrates multiple parts of a processes in parallel, and can integrate with other systems and applications for more efficient, cross-platform automation. 

For example, batch processing can run a set of batch jobs at a set time. And then if the results are needed for another process, that would have to manually be kicked off. But with workload orchestration, you can kick off an entire workflow with many dependencies and differing schedules without human intervention. For example: 

  • A process starts when a file appears on System A AND it’s a Tuesday AND not a holiday AND another job has also completed with a status of satisfactory or better. 
  • When this process begins, another process starts to run on System B. 
  • If something fails on System B, jobs can run on System C, but otherwise do not run. 
  • If the entire workflow fails, a recovery workflow can run that resets the canvas, or sends a notification for human intervention.

Read a case study of a healthcare company using workload orchestration to streamline their billing, payroll, and accounting processes


Workload orchestration vs. workload automation  

Workload orchestration and workload automation are closely related concepts. The main difference is that workload automation is more commonly used to automate a single process, like the deployment of an application, execution of a script, or provisioning a server. Workload orchestration involves using workload automation to execute, monitor, and manage processes across the many systems, applications, and platforms in your IT environment more efficiently.  

An IT department might have started with workload automation to help streamline their IT tasks, but advanced to a workload orchestration strategy that is used across their enterprise to manage workloads in parallel across multiple computing resources. 

Transforming your company’s thinking around workload orchestration 

To better understand workload orchestration, think beyond the software. Workload orchestration can be viewed as a new way of thinking—a strategy for better operating your company’s IT resources and environment. Not only does this strategy transform IT and business processes, but it also should optimize the way you set up workflows. Here is how to best approach workload orchestration: 

  • Define Your Automation Goals
    Whether you’re looking to optimize resources, improve efficiency, or bring more value to existing applications and systems, defining your goals is the best place to start.  
  • Assess Your Current Environment
    Take stock of how you’re currently running batch processes, scripts, jobs, and other workloads. Can you spot the inefficiencies? Are there specific areas that are especially complex? This exercise can help you determine the best place to start with workload orchestration. 
  • Assemble Your Team
    To get the full benefits of workload orchestration, you’ll have to think enterprise-wide to enable a full end-to-end automation strategy. Find the automation champions in each department that know their processes well in order to make the best plan to optimize them. 
  • Think Long Term
    Workload orchestration should be a constant evolution of your processes. As technology changes and new requirements form across your business, always keep good workflow design top of mind to encourage continuous optimization. Monitor processes to spot and fix inefficiencies and employ a test environment to try out new strategies before implementation.  

“It’s allowed us to more easily and quickly create and schedule business-critical jobs, create sequences of jobs, and create efficacies throughout a line of business. It’s allowing us to create sequences of jobs that span multiple systems.” – Amedisys  

Choosing the Right Workload Orchestration Tool 

Even with the best strategy, implementing successful workload orchestration depends a lot on finding the right tool. As you begin your automation journey, here is what to look for in a workload orchestration tool: 

  • Centralization
    Workload orchestration is all about bring your IT processes together in a single console. Look for a tool that provides a single pane of glass to monitor every process running more easily throughout your environment. It should also provide cross-platform capabilities to ensure every piece of your workflows can be automated no matter if it’s on-premises or in the cloud, on Microsoft or on Linux, and so on. 
  • Scalability
    Taking an enterprise-wide approach is necessary for workload orchestration which means you need a tool that can easily—and cost effectively—scale. How many jobs and workloads can your tool handle? Can your automation be easily replicated across departments? 
  • Flexibility
    Your workload orchestration tool should run on your schedule and dependencies, not the other way around. Look for a code-driven tool that can be easily customized with low-code features—like native integrations and APIs—that make building automation easier. 
  • Ease of Integration
    Speaking of native integrations and APIs, workload orchestration tools need to be able to interact with all your applications—including legacy systems. Your new software should add value to existing apps and system and make them easy to integrate into your automated workflows. 
  • Robust Job Scheduling Capabilities
    Move beyond the limitations of simple batch processing with a tool that features event-based job scheduling. Look for enterprise features like job dependencies, resource-based scheduling, advanced calendaring, parameters, and load balancing. 


The Future of Batch Processing and Workload Orchestration  

As the way we work continues to change, one thing is clear: businesses will continue to generate more and more data. And as this data grows, companies will need more efficient and scalable ways to process the data and better handle complicated processes in a timely and cost-effective way. Here is what to expect in the workload orchestration space: 

  • Automation in Multi-Cloud Environments
    Businesses continue to look to the cloud for their computing needs. Whether it’s cloud-based applications or utilizing more cloud resources, workload orchestration will have to keep up with processing these types of workflows. 
  • Growing Need for Security and Compliance
    Data breaches are one of the biggest threats to organizations lately. To provide a safe environment, workflow orchestration tools will need to play their part in keeping data and workflows secure and within compliance. 
  • Decreasing IT Budgets
    IT teams are constantly being tasked with doing more for less. As companies focus on using fewer tools amid tighter budgets, workload orchestration tools can help streamline tech stacks and eliminate IT sprawl. 
  • Machine Learning and AI
    Tools with machine learning and AI capabilities are becoming the newest additions to IT environments. Workflow orchestration can benefit by this new frontier on processes that require more judgement and decision making. 


IT environments have come a long way from simple batch processing. Workload orchestration is here to go beyond streamlining a few processes with workload automation as a way to take a more enterprise-wide approach to automation. By orchestrating all the jobs, batches, and other workflows across various platforms and applications, workload orchestration is bringing more visibility, efficiency, and reliability to IT environments. And it’s helping companies stay competitive as they navigate the next chapter in the way we work. 


Want to See What Workload Orchestration Can Do for Your Organization? 

Take your automation across the enterprise. Get a personalized look at the workload orchestration capabilities of Fortra’s JAMS.