Strategic Automation Advantage – JAMS and GoAnywhere at Kansas City Public Schools

About the Organization

Kansas City Public Schools
Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) is a school district in Missouri comprised of 35 schools, centers, and programs with more than 2,100 staff serving over 15,000 students. KCPS’s purpose is to provide a quality education that prepares all of their students, regardless of background or circumstances, for success in college, career, and life.

The Challenges

Don McIntyre, Enterprise Integrations & Applications Developer, is the single developer at KCPS. Don writes a host of C# applications that connect KCPS to a suite of software and vendors.

At the turn of the century, KCPS ran into an all-too-common issue. “The mainframe system wasn’t Y2K compatible,” Don recalled. “We went to AS400 for Y2K.” With mainframe systems moving to AS400, Don needed to be able to securely move files between the AS400 system and a suite of new Windows systems and applications, including the district’s Student Information System (SIS). “Our Student Information System is Tyler SIS, a PC-based system,” Don noted. With the SIS on Windows, Don tried to use Windows Task Scheduler but quickly ran into the tool’s limitations. “I was using task scheduler and it just didn’t give me history, tracking, or flexibility.”

KCPS needed a Managed File Transfer solution that would be able to move files between Windows and the AS400, and a Job Scheduling solution with centralized visibility, flexibility, and tracking.

The solutions

When it came time for KCPS to find a true MFT solution compatible with the AS400, Don selected GoAnywhere. “I love the utility, I use it in my integrations. You know, there’s a whole lot of stuff you can do in there.” As a developer, Don has benefitted greatly from GoAnywhere’s robust APIs. “I have a C# project I can load, and I use the methods out of it,” Don noted. “Where I particularly like to use GoAnywhere is when I do PGP encryption.”

Don originally found JAMS while searching for a Windows Task Scheduler replacement. “I was using Windows Task Scheduler, I was getting too many jobs, couldn’t figure out why things were erroring, and I just wanted something more controlled where I could see things better.” Don started using JAMS to automate his SSIS packages, including C# calls to GoAnywhere. “I’m using JAMS for almost everything that’s scheduled.”

Don leverages JAMS and GoAnywhere to support his varied and complex applications. “I’ve got probably 70 or 80. I have a lot of stuff going on – and all of it scheduled. I have probably well over 100 some odd jobs that run every day. I’ve got quite a bit of development, especially user provisioning, that’s kind of a big deal.” Jobs running at KCPS include:

  • Active Directory Provisioning
  • Data Warehouse Loads
  • Transmitting Bank Files
  • Creating and Distributing CSV files and Reports
  • Database Backups
  • Photo Transfers for Badging Systems
  • Social Security Verifications
  • Report and CSV Creation and Distribution
  • Loading SQL Tables from Google Docs
  • Transportation and Bus Routing
  • Updating Fixed Asset (Inventory) Systems
  • Third-Party Data Retrieval

The Benefits

Don has used automation at KCPS to streamline business processes like inventory management and the onboarding process for new hires. “If you hire on here, as soon as you’re in the HR system, you have an active directory account the next day, you’ve got an email and several other accounts.”

The visibility provided by JAMS gives Don all the information he needs to quickly diagnose and address issues. “A lot of jobs send me an email to say they’re complete, or to say they’re at a certain level. I don’t have to hunt. JAMS will give you a percentage complete. It knows how long it should take, and it’ll give you a percentage according to that. I can tell when something’s awry, if I see that it’s 1000%. One thing nice about JAMS is it turns pink when it goes bad.” If something does go bad, Don leverages the logging in JAMS and GoAnywhere to make fast, accurate decisions.

JAMS makes it easy to manage complex IT environments, even when only a single IT admin is available. At KCPS, that lone JAMS Admin is Don. “My job isn’t scheduling,” Don noted. “I spend my time developing and when I’m all done, I put a script out there to call my integration package and then attach it to a JAMS job.” By leveraging JAMS, Don spends less time managing jobs and more time developing.

At Kansas City Public Schools, JAMS and GoAnywhere provide a strategic advantage – the velocity that comes with flawless, repetitive executions. By baking enterprise solutions directly into their applications, KCPS has turned a single developer into an application superhero. It’s no surprise then, that Don calls JAMS and GoAnywhere “My two favorite utilities.”