An Energizing Solution for The Southern Co.
Kenneth McIntire, Senior Systems Analyst
The Southern Co.
Energy to Serve Your World. That's the motto for leading U.S. electricity
producer Southern Co. ( www.southernco.com ). But providing electricity for
the entire southeastern part of this country and other regions
internationally is no easy task. The Southern Co. runs hundreds of servers
company-wide, 24 hours a day seven days a week. The servers handle hundreds
of applications that support Southern Co. business, from the organization's
storm tracking system to its customer service management applications.
Those applications require constant support from batch processes. The
Southern Co. needed a simple, low-cost solution for providing flexible
batch-processing capabilities in a Windows NT environment.
After considering a number of other products, The Southern Co. chose
OpalisRobot for its user-friendly operation, functionality and competitive
price. It is currently installed on five servers: three in Atlanta and two
in Birmingham, Ala. Approximately 50 project developers across four states
use OpalisRobot to manage business applications.
"Instead of using OpalisRobot solely for its server monitoring, automation
and reporting capabilities, we use it in a unique way," said Kenneth
McIntire, senior systems analyst at The Southern Co. "OpalisRobot's
automated support for batch processing is what really attracted us to the
solution. It's the perfect fit for what we needed; it basically runs
Rather than use OpalisRobot from a purely server administration standpoint,
Southern Co. application project teams decided to utilize it as a
development tool. The developers create batch processes and schedules to run
programs needed to support business applications. Some of these processes
are small, performing daily tasks such as kicking off a database update
program when the input file arrives from a remote system at 2:00 a.m. Others
are more complex, such as the collection of procedures used to automate the
transfer and coordination of material orders from a mainframe materials
system to a PC-based central warehouse system.
From small file processes that update financial data, to mission critical
procedures that help line crews rebuild storm-ravaged transmission systems
after a hurricane, OpalisRobot has the flexibility to do it all. What's
more, the developers have been able to create a self-operating system.
According to McIntire, the administrators almost never have to perform any
support on OpalisRobot.
"There is minimal need to train new staff members on the intuitive
OpalisRobot tool," McIntire said. "We show them the very basics, and they're
off and running with little or no guidance. When we first started using the
tool, developers would often find new product capabilitites we didn't know
While OpalisRobot's easy administration feature is one of the main reasons
it was selected for the project, the Southern Company chose the product for
its powerful yet easy to use batch processing. Several benefits have
stemmed from this feature.
"OpalisRobot provides a standard, yet flexible framework for developing our
batch processes," said McIntire. "Our developers no longer have to deal with
the technical aspects of coding these processes from scratch and monitoring
them each day to make sure they work correctly."
McIntire also said when a client's schedules or processes change, the
developers can quickly make adjustments using OpalisRobot. What once took
days to program now takes a few minutes. The productivity gains are
significant and Southern Co.'s clients love the quick response to their
OpalisRobot provides The Southern Co. more of one of today's essential
resources: time. Its batch processing capabilities successfully manage the
company's mission-critical business applications seamlessly, and at a low
Software: OpalisRobot running on Windows NT 4.0 with SP3 installed and
Hardware: Dell servers.