Bring job scheduling to your NT environment

If your company has downsized from an IBM mainframe to a Windows NT Server client/server environment, an item you'll miss from your systems administration toolset is a comprehensive job scheduling utility. Although NT's AT command lets you run batch jobs it lacks the comprehensive feature set of an enterprise-level scheduling package. If this scenario sounds familiar, AutoSys 3.4 from PLATINUM Technology might fill this void.

AutoSys is a full job scheduling and management system for NT systems. AutoSys lets you create simple or complex sets of instructions to automatically execute at regular intervals. AutoSys lets you trigger jobs by date and time, file arrival, and other criteria. If you decide to use AutoSys in a UNIX environment, it has a feature that lets you automatically convert cron job files for use on AutoSys.

Like a mainframe scheduling product, AutoSys automatically monitors your jobs. If necessary, AutoSys can automatically restart jobs that have failed, were cancelled, or were aborted for a variety of reasons. For mission critical enterprise environments, AutoSys also has a high availability option that will perform an unattended rollover to a backup server if your primary server fails.

AutoSys has numerous components that work in unison to provide comprehensive job scheduling. At the lowest level is a job, which is a collection of commands written in AutoSys' Job Information Language (JIL). JIL defines when, where, and how a job should be run, and contains numerous commands that let you create very complex job streams, including Boolean logic. After you submit a job, AutoSys stores it in a database that contains all of AutoSys' job information. This database is collectively known as the AutoSys Event Server.

A background server, the AutoSys Event Processor, monitors the database and executes jobs as necessary. When this monitoring occurs, the Event Processor sends a job to a machine running an AutoSys remote agent. AutoSys defines the exact machine either through its JIL or through workload balancing, in which the software automatically selects a machine to run the job. This assignment helps to equalize system load on your machines. PLATINUM has remote agents available for NT machines and 13 different UNIX systems.

Setting up AutoSys was simple. After you launch the setup program, you must select the database server you want to store AutoSys' database. The program supports Oracle, Sybase, and SQL Server. For my installation, I opted to use SQL Server. After making my database selection, the software automatically launched an InstallShield session to finish guiding me though the install. You must answer a series of questions to complete the installation; the accompanying installation documentation explains these questions so that you can properly establish your environment from the start. For my testing, I simply chose the default options presented in each of the dialogs.

After you complete installation, you are ready to start using the software. A good place to start is the AutoSys GUI. This program, available through the AutoSys NTM program group on the Start menu, provides a basic interface that contains a series of buttons you can click on to execute all of AutoSys' various programs. For instance, from this application switchboard you can launch the AutoSys Scheduler Console, Job Editor, Calendar Editor, and several other utilities. You can use these various programs to monitor and control your AutoSys environment. The Calendar Editor, for instance, lets you establish calendars that you can apply to jobs (e.g., a schedule that prevents jobs from executing on weekends or on holidays).

If you need to change any of your installation options after your installation is complete, you can use AutoSys Administrator to change how your system functions. This program, available from the Start Menu, presents you with a series of prompts and options that represent your AutoSys installation settings. Through the toolbar, you can select one of several different screens and set the appropriate options on it. Screen 1 shows the Event Processor screen within the AutoSys Administration.

Despite these features, the price for AutoSys 3.4 is high. Although the software is exceptionally well put together, unless PLATINUM's AutoSys has a specific feature you are looking for, your best bet would be to look at competing solutions at a lower cost.

AutoSys
Contact: Platinum Technology * 800-442-6861, Web: http://www.platinum.com, Email: info@platinum.com
Price: $10,500 (One time scheduling server charge)