Workload Automation vs. Job Scheduling

The terms “workload automation” and “job scheduling” are often used interchangeably and, truth be told, the terms do cover a lot of the same ground. In fact, a Google search for “workload automation” will usually return the Wikipedia entry for “job scheduler” within the first few results.

Broadly speaking, workload automation is a series of background processes for automating back-office business systems and may support multiple business applications and workflows that include many dependencies. More specifically, with the rise of new enterprise resource planning tools, as well as other packaged and bespoke solutions, workload automation software satisfies the growing need to make sense of the many different (and traditionally siloed) schedulers used for distributed systems with Linux- and UNIX-based servers.

Job scheduling also handles background automation, albeit on a more platform-by-platform basis, which is why there are Skybot pic
native job schedulers built in to many operating systems. For instance, Microsoft Windows features Windows Task Scheduler, while Linux and UNIX platforms have cron as their native job scheduler. These job schedulers emerged as tools for executing tasks during the “batch window,” i.e. running batch jobs after hours when business processes are finished. Job schedulers take care of activities like database maintenance and prevent the need for operator intervention during the job schedule.

As we can see, streamlining business processes is central to both workload automation and job scheduling. The difference, then, is mostly one of scope, which we can already see in the basic definitions above. Workload automation can be thought of as a successor to job scheduling because it attempts to automate entire systems that may contain heterogeneous server environments and, by extension, disparate job schedulers.

Moreover, workload automation is very much a response to the rise of more complex business processes and diverse server and device platforms, as well as applications and Web services that must support a broad cross-section of users. For these reasons, job scheduling on individual platforms is being woven into the larger process of workload automation.

Some IT experts consider the uptick of workload automation as heralding the end of job scheduling, but the reality is a bit more complex. Workload automation extends the core benefits of job scheduling, automation, saving time by switching tasks from human to machine operators, to multiple platforms working in concert. Ultimately, this creates better compatibility with the huge set of third-party applications and operating systems now in use among businesses.

“While some application providers did a good job integrating the constituent parts of their overall offering, most failed to address the key challenge customers faced, which was working with third-party applications,” explained Mark Nation of Automic. “Workload automation solves this through being able to reach into applications, drive activities based on external events and orchestrate complex process flows running on disparate operating system platforms.”

There has been plenty of incentive for businesses to adopt workload automation in recent years, especially as they continue to roll out complex ERP tools and other services that require coordination of operating systems and schedulers. Still, adoption of complete workload automation programs is in its early stages.

According to a Forrester Research survey of 448 IT decision makers from early 2012, only 17% of enterprises had taken up a single enterprise-wide workload automation solution by that time. Most enterprises still relied on a packaged solution, likely made up of multiple schedulers on different platforms in conjunction with a native scheduler like cron.

Using a workload automation tool such as Skybot Scheduler simplifies complex workflows and addresses some of the issues that might arise when using older or native job scheduling solutions. Forrester’s respondents cited potential problems such as:

  • Poor synchronisation between different job schedulers;
  • No integrated or managed file transfer capabilities;
  • Difficulty of moving jobs across different platforms;
  • No compatibility with systems management solutions; and,
  • Limited ability to evaluate run times via service level management

Clearly, there’s a big opportunity for workload automation software to streamline activities like file transfer and job migration from one platform to another. In addition to the specific pain-points cited above, enterprises have realised that sticking with siloed legacy job schedulers cost more in terms of personnel time and energy.

In the Forrester study cited above, IT decision makers considered workload automation software as a way to further reduce manual errors (cited as a benefit by 76% of respondents—more than any other category), batch job execution time (54%), and optimisation of server usage and available capacity (also 54%). The benefits of workload automation software are far reaching, especially when they allow companies to automate across the many platforms and systems that run their businesses.

Because workload automation envelops individual job schedulers, Skybot Scheduler is an intuitive, powerful job scheduling tool that can be deeply integrated with Windows, UNIX, and Linux server environments. Skybot Scheduler makes it easy to build complex schedules from a variety of business applications and separate job schedules running on different platforms, which brings the potential of workload automation to fruition.

Skybot Scheduler is a comprehensive solution to today’s primary challenges in business process automation. The IT team can take advantage of the following features in this affordable enterprise job scheduling tool:

  • Event-driven scheduling with more than 25 options for ensuring that tasks are completed on time and in desired order;
  • Custom notifications across the entire enterprise via email, SMS or SNMP trap;
  • Simple file transfer without the need to enter syntax (the user only has to define the FTP system, the relevant files and the target and source directories);
  • Central monitoring, including a dashboard that provides detailed data on job scheduling trends and forecasts schedules based on historical activity;
  • Real-time database replication to a standby server in order to prevent unplanned downtime; and,
  • Granular logging and auditing of job creation in order to make meeting regulatory compliance easier

Overall, Skybot Scheduler delivers the benefits of job scheduling in the era of workload automation with its cross-platform functionality and specific features (such as easy file transfer) that today’s complex business processes and IT systems require. Workload automation and job scheduling are not so much rivals as they are partners, and with Skybot Scheduler, enterprises can get the best of each automation


SPI, the African distributor for utility software products and services to the Open Systems segment of the IT industry and the sole sub-Saharan Africa distributor for Help/Systems, today announced


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