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ActiveBatch Workload Automation Valuable Features

Systems Architect at a insurance company with 201-500 employees

We can control the runtime of files, based on timing, by a file showing up. They can be controlled by an email being sent into the system. We get error codes back. Therefore, we have one centralized location where we can see how jobs are running. We have the ability to notify end users when jobs are finished or if there are problems with jobs. It's a very robust system, which allows for a lot of different functionality.

The system is very easy to use. In a short amount of time, we trained a couple people who have been able to create jobs on their own. For the two people whom I have trained so far, I spent about an hour or two with them. They were able to start creating minor jobs themselves by looking at existing jobs. We gave them minor jobs to work on. Then, within a couple hours, they were able to create jobs and processes that work correctly.

A lot of our processes are jobs that we know run one job after another, along with a hierarchical system, e.g., once this one job finishes, it triggers these three. Then, as soon as those three are done, it triggers a fifth job. The scheduling of those in that format is very easy to do. 

You can set up automated controls where as soon as one job finishes, then another one kicks off. You can put in constraints where a job won't start until other situations are met. It's very easy to use.

The console is very easy and flexible to use. Whenever we have come up with something that we wanted to try in ActiveBatch, we have managed to find a solution. When you're calling an application, you can call it through a batch job or script. You can also call the executable directly or through PowerShell. Depending on how it's running and how the security needs to pass through the system, there are many different ways to get the processes to work.

ActiveBatch provides a central automation hub for scheduling and monitoring, bringing everything together under a single pane of glass. There is a daily activity screen within ActiveBatch that shows you every job currently running. You can look in the past and future. I think you can set it all the way up to seven days in the future. So, if you have jobs scheduled to run on a timeframe, then those will show up. It will show everything that is on hold. You can limit it down to show only the stuff that has run in the last hour, if you are trying to deal with a specific problem. You can set the ranges, to say, "Okay, show me between 5:00 and 8:00 PM." It is very easy to use in that regard.

It handles a lot of different business-critical system for us. We have applications that our agents use out on the field which trigger other things that run in the office. Those run every five minutes looking for input to make sure that we can keep things running smoothly. Things that we would have needed to have the operators, or somebody, just running every couple of minutes, we have about a dozen of those run automatically looking for input to keep things running. It also allows our financial system to integrate with all our other systems without anybody having to do the work. Our whole nightly cycle is automated through this. We just did an inventory, and I think we have about 500 unique jobs that we run through ActiveBatch now. These are things that somebody would have had to run manually in the past.

You can keep history of run times, so you can start setting up SLAs on job performance. We have one job setup now where if that job takes more than 15 minutes to run, then it automatically aborts the job, sending an email saying, "This job needs to be looked at, as it's running past its run time."

The have done a pretty good job with the operator interface. There are a number of different screens which can be used to see what is going on. We have chosen the daily activity screen because it gives the most complete view of what's going on: what's finished, what's failed, and what's currently running.

The performance on ActiveBatch has been stellar.

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Sr Technical Engineer at Compeer Financial

The most valuable feature is being able to ingest some PowerShell scripting into variables that we can then utilize in loops. Our first rendition of doing PowerShell into variables was being able to pull some Active Directory computers using a PowerShell script and Active Directory PowerShell modules, then we were able to take that and dump it into a SharePoint list, because we keep inventory of all our servers. It was through the process of trying to understand how to get something out of PowerShell into an array and being able to process that out into something else that it would become useful down the road.

There are some things that ActiveBatch can't do natively, which is no fault to them. It's just the fact that we're trying to do things that just don't exist in ActiveBatch. With us being proficient in PowerShell scripting, we were able to extend the ActiveBatch environment to be able to say, "We'll run this PowerShell script and get the array that we're looking for, but then take that and do something native within ActiveBatch that can ultimately meet our goals."

The ease of use has been pretty good. I have been able to create workflows and utilize different modules within the job library, which has worked out really well. 

ActiveBatch's ability to automate predictable, repeatable processes is good. It does that very nicely. A lot of what we do is we pull files down from SFTP servers and put them onto our local file servers. Based on that, we are able to run a console app that developers have written, which is a lot more complicated, for doing various tasks. Our console apps are easy to set up because we have templates already drawn up. So, if we just right click into our task folder, we can quickly create an item in there that we can start up for doing an automation feature. Just being able to use PowerShell to drop variables into the ActiveBatch process has worked really well now that we understand it.

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Senior Operations Administrator at Illinois Mutual

A lot of the built-in processes are among the most valuable features because when just starting out, although I went through the ActiveBatch Boot Camp — and I've got a couple of other people who went through it as well — it was a little overwhelming, not having used the product.

We found it easier once we were using the product and then doing refreshers on the Boot Camp or doing the deep dives that ActiveBatch provides. Even the Knowledge Base articles allow us to grow and let us know what we can use in our environment.

We're able to use the Plans, rather than seeing individual jobs within all four of our environments. Seeing all of these jobs individually would be overwhelming to try to easily decipher workflows, whereas everything is nested nicely within each Plan for us. It makes it very easy to read the next day, and to look at how each cycle ran. It also helps with troubleshooting if there's an issue with one of them at night.

As far as centralization goes it's nice because we can see all these processes that are tied to this larger process. The commissions, FTP processing, the reporting, the file moves to the business users — all that is right there. It's very easy to read. It's easy to tie it together, visually, and see where each of these steps fits into the bigger picture.

Other important features for us are file triggers, file constraints, and job constraints, because of the sequential nature of the batch process. The file triggers have made our processes more efficient and reduced delays. It might be minimal at this point, but it would still be a manual process that would have had to be done. Our second-shift operator would have to wait each night for that mainframe cycle to finish and then manually trigger certain processes within each of our ActiveBatch cycles.

It's also a very flexible product. We're just over a year in and we're still getting our feet wet and realizing its potential. One thing I am anxious to roll out — and I've tried to push some business end-user meetings, but it's still a little early in the process as everyone has been so busy with the overall modernization effort — is the Self-Service Portal. It will allow the business users to run processes on-demand, rather than putting in a ticket to have IT do it for them. This would also allow other IT users to see any processes they may be testing, in the ActiveBatch environment.

In addition, the Jobs Library has been a tremendous asset. For the most part, that's what we use. There are some outliers, but we pretty much integrate those Jobs Library steps throughout the process, whether it's REST calls, FTP processes, or file copies and moves. We do use some process job steps to call out external batch processing through external scripts, but most of what we're using is what is built-in, at this point. That has helped us to build end-to-end workflows.

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Learn what your peers think about ActiveBatch Workload Automation. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
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Senior System Analyst at a insurance company with 5,001-10,000 employees

One of the valuable features is the ability to tie things in using API calls. The native integrations and REST API adapter for orchestrating the entire tech stack are really good and really easy. We have a product called ServiceNow, which is a call tracking system. If a problem occurs, ActiveBatch will send an API call into ServiceNow, and it will raise a ticket to say that there's a problem. That gives us an auditing process. We're also using API calls for Tableau and we're also using some API calls for SharePoint. We tie ActiveBatch into a lot of different applications.

Also, the overall ease of use is brilliant. It's easy to pick up. We can get a newbie up and running within a day, using ActiveBatch. It's not to the extent where that person will know some of the more complicated issues, but in terms of being able to build a job and export or run the job, it's within a couple of hours. Within a day, people are quite comfortable with the application. We've just signed an agreement with ActiveBatch which gives us all the education materials now. That means we'll be applying more advanced features. It's really good as far as ease of use goes.

We use the solution across all sorts of organizational branches. It's used for SaaS and SAP, which is finance. We have fraud and Salesforce, which is for the sales group. It's also used with marketing and major events because, when there's a storm, we need to know what's going on. We also have the ability to pull from external sources, meaning external vendors such as Guidewire. So ActiveBatch is widely utilized and probably more widely utilized than the executives realize. It's well embedded in our company.

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JM
Client Service Manager/Programmer at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees

We mostly use the fairly straightforward features of the solution:

  • copying and moving files from one location to another
  • FTP processes to send and receive files 
  • database queries to update certain data elements. 

It's nothing super-complex, but these are things we would not be able to do manually without adding a lot more time to the process.

It's also very easy to restart jobs at a certain point, in the event of a failure. Things like that are things that we didn't want to have with some of our former automation tools: overall ease of use.

In addition, you can go to one screen and see every job that is currently running and what the status of that job is. You can scroll up or down and see jobs that ran in the past jobs and jobs that are scheduled to run in the future. It makes it easier to monitor jobs. A lot of our processes run overnight. We have a team that monitors the automation jobs to make sure everything's running and to correct any failures that may happen. They are able to easily see the status of everything using ActiveBatch, without having to click on multiple jobs to see an individual status. They can get a summary of it on the summary view.

It's pretty customizable, from what I can tell. We haven't had a need to customize a lot of things because most of what we do is pretty straightforward. But you can script out a PowerShell script and use some of the internal functions and features of  ActiveBatch within the script. You could, theoretically, customize it pretty extensively. We just haven't had a need to do that very much.

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BO
Supervisor IT Operations at a insurance company with 501-1,000 employees

I find all the features valuable. 

A lot of our server monitoring has becoming more critical. We monitor CPU loads and disk space requirements. Those are becoming more helpful to us from an automation standpoint, where it makes business decisions on returns. It really helps out the entire IT department and the entire company, as it takes a lot of the manual effort away from a lot of people.

It takes a lot of the manual effort off a lot of people from having to continually look at information. We make business rules within jobs. If something is wrong, it will get somebody out of bed in the middle of the night and let them know there is a problem. Rather than people coming in the morning, we have people who get up in the middle of the night and start working. Because when there's a server issue, that just creates a whole problem. This eliminates a lot of that since we catch these problems. We're taking a proactive approach to our internal structures.

The solution provides us with a single pane of glass for end-to-end visibility of workflows. The nice thing about ActiveBatch is you can see at a glance what is running and what's going to run (future runs). It gives us a good snapshot of everything that's going on, which is something that was lacking for years. With our window pane, we can see exactly everything that will happen at a glance.

The console is extremely flexible. We have incorporated things into ActiveBatch that a lot of people never thought possible, e.g., a lot of the server monitoring stuff and we have over a 1000 jobs that run out of it on a nightly basis. From an automation standpoint, it is really reducing the need for so much manual effort, which creates its own problems because we have a thousand jobs. Somebody has to look to determine if there are any issues. So, we have business rules put in place in all our jobs which try to make it easier for everybody. We do banking information, EDIs, specific automation for other applications, service monitoring, and reporting. A lot of the stuff is called from other systems and imported into ActiveBatch, then manipulated. It's so comprehensive.

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Senior IT Architect at a pharma/biotech company with 5,001-10,000 employees

One of the great features that they have implemented is called Job Steps. It is a much more mechanical way to control processes. It allows us to connect to external providers. For example, we were a big Informatica shop. The development time to create a job that can execute a task or workflow (once you have the initial baseline set up) takes you about a minute to say, "I created this new job in Informatica. I have created an equivalent job to run the batch, then about a minute later, it was done." It improves the development time to market and getting things done.

What ActiveBatch allows you to do is develop a more efficient process. It gave me visibility into all my jobs so I could choose which jobs to run in parallel. This is much easier than when I have to try to do it through cron for Windows XP, where you really can't do things in parallel and know what is going on.

Improvement in workflow completion times has to do with optimization. The ability to do true parallel submittal of jobs, then be able to pay attention to the status of those job simultaneously to know when they are done, that is what creates the optimization.

The solution provides us with a single pane of glass for end-to-end visibility of workflows. It has a very broad, deep scale vision of what's going on. You can go down to an individual job level or see across the whole system and different groups. Because we roll out by project area, each project has their own root group folder that they use to manage their routines. We don't have a master operational group yet that is managing it. Therefore, each of group does its own operational support for it. However, if I look at things in it, there are a lot of shared things that we have put in there. If a machine is taking too long, I can go focus on that. E.g., why is it taking so long? Then, I can let people know that we have a particular routine that is running poorly.

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MS
Data Warehouse Operations Analyst at a leisure / travel company with 1,001-5,000 employees

One of the valuable features is the ability to trigger workflows, one after another, based on success, without having to worry about overlapping workflows. 

The ability to integrate our BI, analytics, and our data quality jobs is also valuable. We used to have everything set up just based on time: Run the data warehouse until five in the morning, run BI at 5:30 in the morning. There were times that we missed the deadline so that when the BI jobs would run, the data would be incomplete, or we had a big gap in time where we were missing out on starting early. It has really saved us a lot of man-hours compared to when we would have a data issue and we would have to manually restart all of the downstream jobs, after the warehouse.

ActiveBatch also provides us with a single pane of glass for end-to-end visibility of workflows. That simplifies the process when we check to see if things have run or how they're running. The Map View feature makes it easy to see what the dependencies are. It's helpful to have a visual, top-down look, from start to finish, at what flows are running when you need to look into that.

In terms of the unlimited bandwidth, as far as I can tell it's handled all of our volume without any issues whatsoever. For the analytics stuff and the business intelligence stuff, I don't keep track of how many jobs they have running each day. I can only really check the warehouse, but as far as I can tell it has handled the total volume of our needs without any issue whatsoever.

We use event triggers and file events, and one job we have uses email triggers. Especially for the business side, if they have a list of call center people or a list of promotions or some costing information that they need loaded into the warehouse, it allows us to say to them, "We don't need a dummy file and we don't need a blank file. Whenever you have a file ready to go, just put it on a shared drive and the job will automatically pick it up." So it simplifies our interactions with the business and allows them more flexibility to get their work done. The triggering doesn't so much reduce delays but it alleviates the need either to have the business create a dummy file or to code the job in such a way that if it doesn't find a file to run each day, it won't error-out or have to send an informational message. If we get a file a day, or if we get five files in a day, or if we only get one file every six months, the job just runs when the business has the data available, without our having to worry about it.

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BI Data Integration Developer - EIM at a healthcare company with 10,001+ employees

We do a lot of very specific scheduling. You could do it as simply as, "Hey, run this every day at six o'clock," or you could do something like an exact date and exclude bank holidays. It has a very robust scheduling aspect.

We use a lot of SFTP stuff. With version 11 and version 12 they came out with a managed file transfer. They have a lot of pre-programmed "job steps" so that you don't have to develop custom code. You can just say, "Copy file. SFTP file." They build up a lot of the common uses that you would be looking to develop yourself.

We leverage the solution's native integrations regularly. We have to get files from a remote server outside the organization, and even send things outside the organization. We use a lot of its file manipulation and SFTP functionality for contacting remote servers. 

ActiveBatch also has a lot of pre-built looping structures, reading files, looping-if-branch; basic programming concepts are pre-built for you and robust. That's definitely nice.

It's very easy to use. I was self-taught before any training was available for our company. It's very easy to learn to use yourself. I have a technical background but even some of our business users, with some light training, would be able to navigate and use the tool very easily. Things like the copy files or move files are very intuitive.

It's extremely flexible. In addition to that pre-built functionality and the ability to create API calls, it allows us to create our own service library. That wasn't default but they said "Hey, we have this package where you can build your own library." It also has some different scripting of job steps. If I want to use PowerShell to achieve something that might not be out-of-the-box, I've been able to leverage that utility to achieve whatever we're looking to do. If there's a problem that needs a solution that may not be available in our ETL products, my first go-to is ActiveBatch to do some scripting.

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JB
Production Control Manager at a tech services company with 51-200 employees

The combination of time scheduled events to running the import of data into our in-house databases is always critical, and that happens every day. Critical individual pieces for us are timed events.

ActiveBatch can automate predictable, repeatable processes very well. There is no real trick to what ActiveBatch does. ActiveBatch does exactly what you would expect a scheduling piece of software to do. It does it in a timely manner and does it with very little outside interference and fanfare. It runs when it is supposed to, and I don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops to double check it.

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Operations Manager at Statkraft AS

We use the main job-scheduling feature. It's the only thing we use in the tool. That's the reason we are using the tool: to reduce costs by replacing manual tasks with automated tasks and to perform regular, repetitive tasks in a more reliable way.

It's quite customizable because it supports many different platforms and technologies, and it covers almost everything we need to set up different jobs in our environment. We are using it mostly for our Windows and Unix servers and we are using different triggers, for example, Apache ActiveMQ. It is used by many different applications and systems. We use various databases, including Oracle, SQL Server, Microsoft, as well as Active Directory.

We are at the beginning of implementing agents in our Azure cloud. We haven't used that part very much yet but it will be used. We are moving more and more systems from on-prem to the cloud, so it will increase gradually.

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Manager at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees

One of the most valuable features of this solution is the versatility of the prebuilt jobs.

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NP
DBA at a venture capital & private equity firm with 11-50 employees

The schedule is good because you don't miss any issues. Let's say you reboot the server and there are still things pending, they will resume. From a scheduling point of view, it is pretty good.

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Learn what your peers think about ActiveBatch Workload Automation. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: January 2022.
566,121 professionals have used our research since 2012.