While Job Schedulers and Workload Automation solutions are closely related, they are designed for different goals.
What is Job Scheduling?
Job scheduling tools enable IT to automate repetitive tasks and manual processes. This helps organizations reduce human error and realize cost savings.
Job scheduling was originally developed to automate and schedule batch jobs to run on mainframes with a single operating system. This legacy continues today, as many job schedulers automate processes for a single application or platform (for example Windows Task Scheduler), and follow a date-and-time-based processing schedule. Job schedulers are point solutions with limited capabilities that can’t always address manual hand-offs when running processes across multiple platforms.
What is Workload Automation?
Workload automation enables IT to automate business processes across multiple platforms, such as data warehousing/ETL, business process management (BPM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence (BI), and more. Workload automation solutions are designed to integrate disparate technologies, and as a result, can reduce errors associated with cross-platform hand-offs.
Workload automation emphasizes end-to-end workflows that can accommodate real-time demands, including executing workflows based on external events or situational dependencies, like file transfers or database modifications, as well automatic resource provisioning. Additionally, workload automation solutions provide a wide range of capabilities that can’t be found in native scheduling tools, such as end-to-end monitoring, auto-remediation, change management, and reporting.
How Does Job Scheduling Fit into a Workload Automation Strategy?
Workload automation expands job scheduling capabilities, namely, by enabling users to schedule jobs across disparate platforms, creating a unified automation environment.
End-to-end automation requires advanced scheduling capabilities, including event-based triggers with granular date-time options and constraint-based scheduling to make sure the right jobs run at the right time, while also provisioning the necessary resources in real-time.
For example, SThree, a leading international staffing company, once relied on Windows Task Scheduler as their sole automation tool, until the company’s global expansion made for an increasingly complex IT environment. This prompted calls for a workload automation solution to automate their manual, script-driven processes and manage dependencies between diverse business applications, with flexible scheduling options that could orchestrate workloads across time-zones.
Trends in Workload Automation
Every business is a digital business and this means data, disparate applications, and incompatible systems are critical for day-to-day operations. This complexity isn’t going away and is likely to increase as IT environments become more distributed as new technologies mature.
Managing data, dependencies, and workloads across numerous environments is difficult. Doing this with limited-capability point-solutions (automation scripts, Windows Task Scheduler, home-grown solutions) is next to impossible.
For this reason, industry analysts expect basic IT process automation to evolve into broader automation strategies that unify and orchestrate silos across the enterprise.
From Gartner Predicts 2020: “[IT’s] traditional approach to managing complexity via siloed tooling and expertise is insufficient for optimizing the digital experience and the application workloads that enable that experience.”
This becomes especially important in the areas of DevOps and big data/Hadoop automation as businesses rely on real-time data management in order to optimize customer experiences and make faster business decisions.
Managing resources across virtual and cloud environments has also become an issue for many IT operations teams as cloud costs can quickly spiral out of control.
In order to better meet these needs, Gartner has identified a trend toward IT automation platforms that unify workload and infrastructure automation.
“By 2022, 20% of enterprises will use hybrid digital infrastructure management (HDIM) tools to optimize workload placement across on-premises, cloud and edge environments.”- Gartner Predicts 2020
These HDIM tools include business process automation and workload automation tools that can readily integrate with virtually all applications, systems, and technologies, allowing IT to orchestrate processes and resources across the data center, IT infrastructure, and business systems.
As new technologies and the need for data-driven solutions accelerate the pace of digital transformation, organizations will continue to move toward workload automation solutions that centralize and coordinate the automation of enterprise applications.
Workload Automation Software Capabilities
There are a number of workload automation solutions out there. But what key capabilities should you be on the lookout for?
Drag-and-Drop Workflow Designer
ActiveBatch offers hundreds of prebuilt integrations for commonly scripted actions so users can easily design and assemble end-to-end workflows and manage dependencies between disparate technologies and applications. ActiveBatch offers extensive support for key business technologies with integrations for third-party applications, databases, and platforms. Plus, with low-code API accessibility, ActiveBatch can seamlessly integrate virtually any tool or technology with an API.
Flexible Date/Time Scheduling
ActiveBatch incorporates granular date and time scheduling including calendars, fiscal year dates, time zones, custom tags, and more. ActiveBatch also supports scheduling workflows based on the business day, as defined by your organization.
IT needs to provision virtual/cloud machines on the fly in order to meet dynamic workload demands in real-time. To do this, ActiveBatch analyzes historical and real-time data to anticipate resource demands, intelligently distributing workloads to minimize slack time and reduce idle machine resources.
Monitoring and Alerting
ActiveBatch supports dozens of customizable alerts that notify appropriate parties or systems when a specified condition has been raised within a workflow.
ActiveBatch also supports the monitoring and alerting of workflows with completion tied to SLAs or business policies. Users can set warning and critical thresholds (based on absolute and relative deadlines) and establish customized Alert notifications and automated remediation actions for an impending SLA breach.
Self-Service Business Automation
Some workload automation solutions, including ActiveBatch, provide a user-friendly, web-based application that allows help desk and business teams to execute daily and ad hoc processes. IT sets up the environment and empowers various business units to run and monitor specific jobs and plans based upon departmental or individual requirements. This allows business users to run and monitor processes as needed, such as provisioning virtual machines or producing end-of-day reports, without waiting for IT.
Business is changing. Technology is changing. IT is changing.
Automate and monitor cross-platform processes with ActiveBatch Workload Automation and Enterprise Job Scheduling.
Cassie is a staff writer for the IT Automation without Boundaries blog, where she covers thought leadership in IT. She has written for several blogs and social media accounts around the Tristate area and received her B.A. in Communication and Theology from The University of Scranton (yes, like Scranton from The Office). When not making you question your IT strategy, you can find Cassie viewing life from behind the lens of her camera or belting out show tunes to her 7-month old.