Automate batch jobs on your network

If you could schedule your nightly or weekend batch-processing jobs to run automatically, would you pay a computer operator to do the job? Tivoli Systems'Tivoli Maestro is network-based job management software that supports Windows NT and several UNIX systems. The software can schedule jobs on any computer participating in the scheduling. Maestro's operation is simple: Each day, the software automatically selects the jobs that need to run and processes them according to various constraints (e.g., successful completion of a prior job or execution after a certain time).

The Installation Process
Installing and using Maestro is simple for seasoned administrators. I installed Maestro on my home-built, Micronics-based dual-Pentium II server. I completed the preinstallation steps, which Maestro's quick-start guide outlines. First, I created a special user and a local group for the software. Second, I granted several advanced rights to the NT domain group I created. Then I ran the setup program on my distribution CD-ROM and answered questions about the type of installation I wanted, the account name I created during preinstallation, and the name of my CPU.

Finally, I completed several post installation steps. After I logged on, I ran the Composer GUI program, which helps you tailor your Maestro environment and create job schedules. I added my CPU to the Maestro network, and defined a schedule to run a sales report from my order entry system. Screen 1 shows the Maestro Composer dialog box you use to set up a schedule.

During my test, Maestro recognized that the job couldn't start until the software closed the order entry master file. After I properly configured my job in Maestro's job queue, the software worked without a hitch.

Features and Flexibility
Systems administrators familiar with mainframe scheduling software will benefit from Maestro's features and flexibility. Maestro's schedules, which the quickstart guide calls calendars, let you control how your system executes jobs. The software recognizes different business schedules (e.g., holidays) and executes jobs appropriately. For example, if your business is closed on Christmas Day, Maestro cancels the sales report for that day. Maestro also uses time constraints to control how jobs run. For example, you can set a specific time to execute or end a job or a time to prevent a job from executing.

Error-free batch-processing environments don't exist. When you run batch jobs, one of them eventually generates an exception or an error that affects processing. Maestro has a recovery feature that detects abnormally terminated jobs. When a job terminates abnormally, Maestro analyzes the dependency tree (e.g., to run X, A and B must run first) and searches for other scheduled jobs that the terminating job affects. If Maestro finds dependent jobs, the software puts these jobs on hold and simultaneously performs a recovery action (e.g., alerts the operator that a job has terminated, automatically runs a recovery job, discontinues processing, reruns the offending job, or continues with the next job in the queue).

The Maestro Composer program includes several tools to help you customize how the software runs. For in-stance, the Options dialog box lets you control when the job executes and what priority it has. The Follows Sched/Job dialog box lets you specify a job or schedule that must complete successfully before the next job executes. Other tabs let you control how the software provides user input when it answers prompts from the job and which files and resources the job requires before it can execute.

Reasonable Pricing
Maestro's price is reasonable, considering the software's capabilities and the time and savings you gain from automating your nightly or weekend batch processing. Computer operators earn $20,000 or more per year, so Maestro saves you money in the long run.

Tivoli Maestro
Contact: Tivoli Systems * 408-988-2800
Web: http://www.tivoli.com
Price: $11,500 for the master scheduler; $2300 for each subsequent agent
System Requirements: Windows NT 3.51 with Service Pack 4 or Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 2, 32MB of RAM, 100MB of hard disk space, 128MB of swap space, NTFS partition