Applications that let you schedule batch jobs are easy to come by. But business processes frequently feed one another—for example, output from order entry jobs might become input to billing operations. Thus, manual work is often required between batch jobs, which slows down throughput and allows errors to be introduced. In a talk with Dan McCall, COO of AppWorx (http://www.appworx.com), I learned about how his company's namesake product evolved from its inception as a simple job scheduler to today's business process automator.

According to Dan, "All customers need to do is use our GUI to set up the way they want their business processes to occur, from order entry to collecting the bill, with a credit check in between." The AppWorx application can then "string together" any number of batch processes for a fully automated workflow. "We've never met a process we can't integrate," he said. Recently released AppWorx 7.0 is 100 percent Java, making it more portable, and includes a Web services interface, a Java messaging service, and a mainframe agent.