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OpCon OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

OpCon is #2 ranked solution in top Workload Automation tools. PeerSpot users give OpCon an average rating of 9.0 out of 10. OpCon is most commonly compared to Control-M: OpCon vs Control-M. OpCon is popular among the large enterprise segment, accounting for 76% of users researching this solution on PeerSpot. The top industry researching this solution are professionals from a financial services firm, accounting for 24% of all views.
OpCon Buyer's Guide

Download the OpCon Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: July 2022

What is OpCon?

OpCon is a robust and flexible platform capable of scaling up to meet the needs of clients running 140,000+ daily jobs across multiple environments and operating systems. Our proven migration framework helps clients painlessly transition from outdated or cost inefficient platforms thanks to our deep organizational expertise, REST API, and extensive library of legacy connectors. We have a variety of consulting options available for clients and offer no-cost training for the life of the contract.

OpCon Customers

LOHR, Carnival Cruise Lines, Herbalife, Digital Federal Credit Union, Synergent, Frandsen Bank & Trust

OpCon Video

OpCon Pricing Advice

What users are saying about OpCon pricing:
  • "OpCon cost us $80,000 in 2017 money, and that included everything: support, installation, onsite assistance during the conversion, etc. It's been a worthwhile investment by far."
  • "We currently renewed with one of their new technology bundles. It's around $36,000 annually. We run a query of our SQL in our SQL database to see how many jobs we run. They're charging us per usage and whatever add-ons you want to use with OpCon."
  • OpCon Reviews

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    Director of Core Application Services at a financial services firm with 201-500 employees
    Real User
    Four connectors work with KeyStone and allow us to automate every batch-processing task
    Pros and Cons
    • "There's also a self-service solution manager... that allows us to enable staff to run complex automation tasks by clicking a button and entering some information. They don't have to have access to the OpCon environment to kick off those kinds of events."
    • "It would be great if you could create physically separate "clients," as I call them. I wish I could have a production client and a testing client and that they would be separate."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it to run our core system, Corelation KeyStone, as well as all of our batch processing and file movement, automation, and extract processing. We also use it to automate custom Keystone updates with Infuzion, a third party tool which streamlines input to the Keystone API. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    It's important to keep in mind that OpCon and KeyStone, together, are a completely different animal than Spectrum and UC4. They are separate systems. They work differently. What we gained with OpCon was the ability to continue to automate everything. That was the real key for us. It's not that we got better at it. We were just able to continue that level of service, which was our goal. I can't tell you what it would be like if we switched from another automation tool to OpCon for the same core system. That's not what we did. It's just that OpCon happens to work so well with KeyStone. I don't think there's another automation tool out there that's going to be able to touch it, although other vendors have since entered this space. Automic now has connectors to KeyStone and offers a viable alternative.

    Total automation is our key and Corelation, which delivers the KeyStone product, is not looking at automation. I think they know they have a good partner with SMA, so they don't think about it too much. Their point of view is that they want you to do the batch processing from within the core. SMA's perspective is, "No, you want to automate all of that." Of course, that's what we wanted as well. SMA's vision was the same as ours. What OpCon really gains for you is the ability to have total, lights-out processing in a way that the core vendor doesn't quite understand or have experience around. And it's okay the core vendor doesn't have that experience because SMA does, and that's where its real value is. It will get you to the place where you can have complete, lights-out automation.

    We've automated everything that runs in the batch or customization-batch updates for KeyStone. A typical day for us has 70 schedules and 496 jobs. At our credit union, we haven't had an operator since 2003. An operator is in the role where, when someone at a certain time of a day is running a batch job through the system, they're watching to see what happens with it. They're making sure the files are in the right place and the output goes where it's supposed to. We replaced that in 2003 when UC4 it started doing all that for us. OpCon has just picked up where we left off. It handles everything. And whenever it comes time to implement something new at the credit union, we're going to make sure that OpCon's driving the batch-automation on the backend.

    If we're running 70 schedules and almost 500 jobs every day, we can't watch all that. There's no way. And we shouldn't have to. Automation tools are so robust, and they have been for 15 or 20 years now, that automation is a given. Any credit union is going to be automating as much as they can.

    In terms of freeing up employees through automation, we've also been automating processes for other departments, not entirely with OpCon but with other solutions as well. We haven't eliminated positions as a result, but we've helped free people up to do other work by taking away repetitive tasks. OpCon allowed us to do that. They have been freed to do more challenging tasks. We would never get rid of a position because their stuff has been automated. We would just free them to do other more valuable tasks. By using Solution Manager in OpCon, we've been able to automate tasks for seven departments. Each one of those represents a task that was repetitive that we were able to automate, at least somewhat. We don't look at it as individuals or FTEs, but rather as departments that have we helped become more efficient by our automation process.

    What is most valuable?

    It's the entire automation landscape that OpCon provides which is valuable. The way it works with Corelation KeyStone is probably unmatched for that core system in the credit union industry. SMA has created four connectors that work with KeyStone in a way that allows us to automate basically every batch-processing or back-office task. That's the true value.

    In addition to that, there's also a self-service solution manager, I believe it's called Solution Manager, that allows us to enable staff to run complex automation tasks by clicking a button and entering some information. They don't have to have access to the OpCon environment to kick off those kinds of events.

    What needs improvement?

    It would be great if you could create physically separate "clients," as I call them. I wish I could have a production client and a testing client and that they would be separate. We have since upgraded our license model with SMA which allows us to license a test server, which will give us better flexibility for separating prod from dev.

    I know that SMA is making a push to move everything into Solution Manager, a web-based interface with OpCon. Frankly, I will be sad to see the Enterprise Manager go away. Enterprise Manager is difficult to learn at first, but once you learn it, it's very powerful and very quick to get solutions in place, to troubleshoot, and to observe your production. I really like it.

    Buyer's Guide
    OpCon
    July 2022
    Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
    619,967 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    In a production environment, at our credit union, we've been using it since October 2017.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    OpCon has been rock-solid. It works day in and day out and is very robust. It runs on Windows Servers, but it is a very high-availability, robust scheduler automation engine.

    In two years, we've had one OpCon database issue that woke people up overnight. It halted production and SMA had a fix for it pretty quickly. That's one time in two years.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I haven't seen any concerns about scaling OpCon to automate what we need. It's been very robust and it can handle whatever we throw at it. I'm confident that as we continue to add processes into our core system, OpCon will be available to drive whatever automation we need.

    We don't really plan to increase usage, but as we add new products to our core system, by default, we'll use OpCon to automate whatever we can. For example, we added mobile check deposit last summer as a product for our consumers. I realize that most financial institutions have had that for a long time. On KeyStone, our new core system, that became possible. OpCon has automated quite a few pieces of that for us, such as eligibility and sending restriction lists to the different vendors, picking up posting files, etc. We never thought otherwise, that we were going to use something else. We just said, "Okay, how are we going to get this into OpCon?" 

    That's how we approach every new product that we add to our KeyStone system for our members. How are we going to automate it? Anything we can put into the automation tool, we're going to.

    How are customer service and support?

    Their support is excellent. It's one of the best I've worked with, for an automation tool, in my career. They'll pick up the phone when you call them. If you've got a simple question they'll answer it. If it's more complex, they pass it along to the right people. If you have a technical production issue, they jump on that really quickly. They do have after-hours support that we've taken advantage of. All of those things have been very valuable for us.

    With UC4, our prior core system, we had to go through a core vendor and, if there was a software issue, it would take a little while for UC4 to have a fix. I don't know if that's changed with Automic, but support definitely felt once or twice removed, whereas with SMA it's very immediate.

    In addition to that, SMA's development is also aggressive. They're very good. If you've got something that you want to automate, they will help you get there. They'll make a connector for it. They will enhance the connectors they do have. They will come up with a solution. That's where I think they are definitely best-in-class: their support and their development.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I wanted to see if Automic was going to work with KeyStone, our core system that we were converting to. Automic pledged to help us support that and come up with a connector for it. But in doing my due diligence, I read over what OpCon provided for KeyStone and, just by reading the documentation, I realized that we probably should go with OpCon, even though it wasn't something that I knew and it wasn't a bench strength for our organization. I realized that we weren't going to find a better partner, with robust features for KeyStone, and that we should switch.

    How was the initial setup?

    If I had been coming into automation cold, and OpCon was the first thing I had seen, I think I would have found it a little complex to understand. But since this is the third automation tool in my career, it was a matter of just applying what I already knew, as fundamentals, to how OpCon does things.

    One thing that really helps is that SMA sends a technical account manager onsite to help you do the installation and do your configuration. They give you a block of days and you can split that up so that they will come back. Our technical account manager came out three times and, each time, we did something a little more complex with OpCon. By the time he left, the third time he was here, we had not only the basic stuff installed and ready to go, but the more sophisticated stuff, like LDAP integration, the Solution Manager, Self Service, Resource Manager — the different pieces of OpCon that were more complex or more subtle. The value is that SMA guides you through that. They provide that kind of onsite assistance.

    Our deployment started in February of 2017 and we went live in October of 2017. After the initial deployment, it took us just a couple of minutes to automate our first process.

    What was our ROI?

    We've definitely seen return on our investment by going with SMA. When we went live with KeyStone back in October of 2017, all of our batch production was automated. In fact, we had to convince Corelation, our core vendor, to let us turn it on. They wanted us to run things manually and I said, "No. We're ready. Let's turn this on and let it do what it's supposed to do."

    These are ballpark figures and the ones for Automic are pretty old. Back in UC4, we converted to version 8 in 2012, and that cost us on the order of $50,000 to upgrade. 

    OpCon cost us $80,000 in 2017 money, and that included everything: support, installation, onsite assistance during the conversion, etc. It's been a worthwhile investment by far. I don't recall how much our yearly maintenance is, but it is worth the money because, when it comes time to do an upgrade, we can do it ourselves and they'll support it. We don't have to pay anything extra for it. And training is included. If I want to send some of my team members to go to training, I just have to pay for travel and expenses. So the cost of ownership has been very worthwhile.

    The only additional cost with SMA would be if we need additional licenses for agents. They provide 10 licenses with the standard installation. We're using seven of them. We have three left to use. After that, we'll need to buy additional licenses for agents. We haven't gotten there yet.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    In my career I've used three automation tools, going back to something called Maestro made by a company called Tivoli, and then UC4, which is now called Automic, and now OpCon. Of the three of those, UC4 was probably the most intuitive and easy to use. OpCon, once you learn it, is easy to use, but it's a little bit of a harder interface at first. If you've come from an environment like UC4 or Automic, you don't quite have that ease of adoption that you might have had with that tool.

    Once you get to know OpCon, you realize that it does all the fundamental things an automation tool should do. It does all the things that UC4 does. The fundamentals are there, and it's the same thing with Maestro.

    Something that UC4 does better is something I've told our technical account manager at SMA when he came up to visit. During our implementation, our technical account manager asked, "What does UC4 do that OpCon doesn't?" One of those things is that it offers logically separate clients for doing production. UC4 allows you to set up a production client and a test client and a training client and a development client. These are all physically separate logins with separate containers. What that means is you can point your production environment to entirely production agents, and you can point your testing client to entirely testing agents. And then you can make a logon such that you can't ever cross over between areas. So there's greater safety when it comes to non-live environments.

    OpCon is one database. Everything exists in one bucket, so testing schedules are there alongside development and production. So we have to be much more careful about where a given schedule is running. SMA's solution to that is that you buy a separate server and separate licensing and do that same thing. Why? I could do that with UC4 by spinning up a separate client. That's one area that UC4 has a better design than SMA, in its architecture for the system. This isn't going to change anytime soon, so we have since upgraded our license model with SMA which allows us to license a test server. This will give us better flexibility for separating prod from dev, and is something we'll work towards this year. 

    Another area is running processes in an ad hoc fashion. UC4 was better at that. I could execute a job plan or a job any time I wanted to, outside of regular production and it was not a big deal. I could execute it and say, "Don't run until two days in the future at 1:30 p.m.," and it would sit out there and wait and then run. UC4 did that better.

    On OpCon's side, it does all the same things that UC4 will do but its connectors to KeyStone are the real keys for us in our environment. That's what makes it so valuable for us. The best differentiator is SMA's support. Their support is unlike any support I've had with an automation tool in my career, so that is the real advantage.

    It's been a while since I've used UC4/Automic. That was the last automation system we used with our prior core system. It matched our core system, at the time, very well. It was all script-based, script-driven, so if you are comfortable writing scripts that drive programs, UC4 was the solution for you. We were very adept at writing script-based solutions with it. That's definitely one of is pros. I have no idea about its support. We didn't really have to contact them very much, but then, of course, we were using a static version of UC4 for five or six years. Whereas with OpCon, we can take advantage of what they're developing every year if we choose to. Some of those advantages would be such things as connectors directly into the SQL database. That's something that's new that SMA is working on. It's a pretty valuable connector.

    What other advice do I have?

    The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is that it is perfectly suited to Corelation KeyStone. Automic entered the KeyStone arena in 2020 with their product, which has the same connectors now that OpCon has. Although I haven't seen it in action I know of one credit union who coordinated the integration and uses it in production. I'm sure for 
    CUs converting to KeyStone who already are enterprise with Automic, this will be welcome news. For us, though, we decided to go all in with OpCon for KeyStone and do not regret the choice.

    On my team, we have seven people and all seven are at least familiar with logging in and observing production with OpCon. Three of them are tasked with implementing new solutions into OpCon and supporting configuration and troubleshooting of existing solutions. We've also got seven departments using it through Self Service, with multiple people in each department using OpCon. One department has almost everyone in there. That's a lot.

    SMA has a real vision and they support it. They've got the development team and the support team behind it.

    I give it a nine out of 10. That one issue about a blurry line between production and development and test is the one thing that might slow us down a little bit when we are testing. We have to be very careful. Otherwise, the product itself is rock-solid. It's got everything in there that you need. Their support is excellent. Their development is aggressive. There's really nothing more that you could want from this vendor. It really is one of the best out there that I've seen in my career. It's perfectly suited for KeyStone. Now, if I looked at Automic for DNA, I might have a different opinion, but those are completely different systems.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
    PeerSpot user
    Cynthia LaRue - PeerSpot reviewer
    Cynthia LaRueChief Marketing Officer at SMA Technologies
    Vendor

    Thank you for your feedback, we appreciate you as a client!

    Janice Scott - PeerSpot reviewer
    Associate Dean of Enterprise Systems at Pasco-Hernando State College
    Real User
    Top 5
    Enabled us to run a dark data center and reassign staff to other projects, and our productivity has increased with automation
    Pros and Cons
    • "The whole product is valuable to us because of the integrations that it has with the MCP and the Windows environments. You have to have the agent on each one of them that you want to monitor. The integrations that we have created are along the lines of extracting files and sending them through SFTP to another vendor. Those are the things that were taking a lot of time away from my staff."
    • "Stability is an area for improvement. There are FTP agents that run on the MCP and they are there so that we can transfer a file from the MCP to the Windows environment or vice versa. Sometimes, and nobody has been able to figure out why, it just goes down, and all of my jobs that need it are hanging or failing... It would be very helpful if they could figure out what in the world is happening with that FTP client that's on the MCP."

    What is our primary use case?

    We have a very small IT shop. I have two helpdesk people, and four functional analysts. We were running all of our jobs manually. I had a nighttime operator and a daytime person in the operations area, and we started getting into more integrations and it was taking a lot of time away from staff to upload data to other vendors.

    We also use it for resource monitoring when we are waiting for files to come in from other departments. As soon as they come in, we pick them up and process them and that's been a lifesaver, as well, for both the user department and for our department. 

    We also use it to monitor emails.

    We have the dependency with the Unisys MCP product and two Windows boxes that we have the agent on. So it's for multi-platform dependencies. We're trying to use it to the hilt and get as much bang for the buck from it as we can.

    How has it helped my organization?

    We now run a dark data center. All of our processing is done at night without anybody there. The majority of our jobs are automated. We couldn't do without it.

    We had a sister institution that is on the same platform, the Unisys platform for MCP. I tried to get them to understand the benefits of it because it was just so hard not to have it. If we were to do away with it, it would be crippling.

    It has enabled us to do other things. By not having to run jobs and submit data to other vendors, it leaves us with all of that free time so we can work on other projects. For instance, a person who was an operator can now start helping us with developing forms online, with workflows, or with some other integrations. It has changed the nuances of people's jobs. And it really has benefited the college because we don't have to have a nighttime person. We can reallocate those resources in another area.

    It has saved IT staff time. It's also monitoring if a job fails and we get notifications immediately so that we can react, rather than having somebody sitting here watching the machine run and worry, "Did I miss something? Did that job fail?" It's actually monitoring all of those jobs, and letting us know if they succeeded or failed. And if you think about the nighttime staff that we don't have anymore, and the other monitoring that we would be doing during the day, it's probably saving us a good eight hours a day.

    The automation of manual tasks using the solution reduces human error. Nobody has to think about, "Oh, did I do this check?" It's all within the workflows that we created. If there's an error, it could cost two hours of time in the morning to research and correct the problem. There still are errors, but they're more along the lines of, "I forgot to put it in the correct date," or something like that in the parameters. In making sure that everything runs step by step by step, it probably saves a good two hours, as far as error checking goes.

    The Self Service feature is used by the payroll department. When they're ready for a payroll, they have a product called SMA Selector, a little dashboard we created to run payroll proof, and run the final. They can run it themselves when they're ready. That has helped a lot because they don't have to call us up and say, "Okay, we're ready for payroll." 

    We also have a document management system and the reports go right into it through OpCon, after they finish, because of the automation of moving files back and forth. It's really saved on the payroll process as well. In terms of the Self Service feature reducing the complexity of the technical aspects of the workload automation, we still had to set it up, although that was very simple. And it has eliminated that hand-holding with the payroll department. They have everything at their fingertips. They can create the payroll and then they can run the payroll. Having everything there, they're in total control. They're self-sufficient.

    OpCon has increased my department's overall productivity because of all of the things that we're doing through automation, and with all of the integrations with our LMS, our learning management system. We would not have been able to do what we are doing today if it wasn't for OpCon because things were so manual. Users outside my department don't know that prior to having OpCon, back in 2002, I had to have an operator run a job and then submit a file or files to a company every two hours. And each time it would take 15 minutes of their time. The users just knew that we had a schedule of things we we're doing. Now, since 2004 or 2005 with OpCon, that schedule has been automated and they don't know the efficiencies that we had in the IT department. The productivity increase was a good 50 percent.

    What is most valuable?

    The whole product is valuable to us because of the integrations that it has with the MCP and the Windows environments. You have to have the agent on each one of them that you want to monitor. The integrations that we have created are along the lines of extracting files and sending them through SFTP to another vendor. Those are the things that were taking a lot of time away from my staff.

    Also, being able to push files through in different ways to different vendors, including FTP, is helpful.

    One of the other features that we have is a smart starter so that users can start their own jobs from a little GUI pad that we developed for them.

    But really, the whole product is valuable. If it lost any of the functionality we're using it for, it would be sad. Everything is beneficial to us. Everything that we need is here. There's already functionality for the things that we've wanted to do.

    What needs improvement?

    All the features that we need are a part of the Opconxps solution.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We have been using OpCon since about 2004. We're a long-time customer.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Stability is an area for improvement. We just went to the new release. You have an agent that runs on the MCP, and you have an agent that runs on each Windows environment. You have SAM which is the manager of all of them, and it has to communicate with all of them.

    There are FTP agents that run on the MCP and they are there so that we can transfer a file from the MCP to the Windows environment or vice versa. Sometimes, and nobody has been able to figure out why, it just goes down, and all of my jobs that need it are hanging or failing. It happens about once a week. They have not been able to resolve whatever the problem is. If we see that the job failed, we have to restart it. If it happens in the middle of the night, we're not going to know about it until the next morning. It would be very helpful if they could figure out what in the world is happening with that FTP client that's on the MCP.

    Also, every now and again, the schedule builder, which builds out your schedule for the next day or however many days you're building it out for, fails. It has something to do with our virus protection. Because their customer service is so good, we're working with them and trying to figure out what the actual problem is, to get a resolution to that. They know about it and have been trying to figure it out, but it's been years and it's just one of those difficult things to troubleshoot.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We have not scaled it. We haven't needed to add anything to the system. But you can add multiple agents. You have one main server that's monitoring all these other servers. The scalability is there but, of course, it's going to cost you to get additional licenses and to have other servers being monitored.

    How are customer service and support?

    Their customer service is really good. If we have any issues we can email them or we can call for support and they're there. They're our partner. They want us to be successful. Their turnaround time and knowledge are very good.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    I was at a Unite Conference and SMA was there. I went over to their booth and started talking to them and learned that it was cross-platform, which I really liked. We gave it a trial for free for three months. They came out, they installed it, and they trained us. And we found that, wow, this is really great.

    I report to the VP of finance. I don't even remember what the cost was back then, but I had to sell him on it. I was going to have to sell him on anything that was going to cost over $10,000. I told him about it and I told him what we were going to be doing with it and he said, "Yeah, let's do it. Let's see what it's like." After the initial three months I said to him, "We have to have this product because of all of the benefits that it has." I shared all of the benefits with him and that's when we purchased it. We were then able to move forward with automating all of our jobs on a daily and monthly schedule, or whatever schedule was needed.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was a learning curve. We had that three month trial and SMA sent somebody for three days to come out and train us and to do our initial setup. We told him this is what we want to do and these are the jobs that we want to automate. He sat with us and mapped out a solution. We worked with him and got hands-on knowledge of it.

    It was pretty straightforward after we got through the learning curve. I'm a mainframe person and I come from a world where there is a terminal emulator and you're setting up workflows that are writing code, and that's how you would set up your job. When you go to something where you can just point, click, point, click, and add a few lines, that's totally different. So we had to be retrained and retooled when we first went to this product.

    They have extensive documentation and training materials, right down to error codes and troubleshooting.

    Our initial deployment was a matter of a week and we were running automations. As we moved forward, after we purchased the product, we expanded it and put more automation into the tool.

    Our implementation strategy was based on the use cases that we wanted to solve. I saw how bogged down the operations staff were. When we were looking at the strategy of what we were going to put in the automation for the trial period, we focused on our biggest jobs and the ones that were most time-consuming.

    What about the implementation team?

    SMA provided a free evaluation period where the software was installed by SMA and we were trained by an SMA expert.  We saw, through the evaluation period, how the software would benefit us.  

    What was our ROI?

    We have definitely seen ROI. Being a dark data center, we don't have to have nighttime staff and we can reallocate our resources. That's significant, especially when you're talking about a small organization. Our organization has 500 permanent employees and we span five campuses spread out within a 30-mile radius. Running a multi-campus facility is very expensive. Over the past 25 years I have added two employees to the MIS staff. That's it. Having SMA, which costs me $10,000 a year, means I can shut down my nighttime staff and run that dark data center. Then, the people that were doing that night work can move to day and be more productive for me and do other things and improve their skill sets as well. The return on investment is definitely there.

    And I had to prove it to my finance officers, too, before we purchased it.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    In my last contract with Unisys, they tried to put SMA underneath my contract with them and I told them I do not want that. I want to deal with SMA by myself. I feel that I can negotiate better with them.

    The price is the price. They offer architects and other people to come and install upgrades and such for you. What that has done for us is that it has helped us maintain a good relationship with them and also to get at their technical expertise and ask a lot of questions and such while they're on campus doing the installation and training.

    The only cost beyond the standard licensing fees is when we need them to come out and do an install. We have to pay travel costs and for their technical expertise. But I do want that because we get their expertise.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    I did evaluate another option. It was not at the scale of SMA because it was more an automation tool for just the MCP environment. It didn't take into consideration cross-platform dependencies. OpCon was unique in that it not only worked on the MCP environment, but also on the Windows environments, which made it a much richer solution for us.

    We haven't evaluated solutions since then. In Florida, you can stay with the same vendor. You don't have to go outside and look for other vendors. Just because the contract may end, say, every two years, you don't have to go out and search for another product. And there has been no reason for me to switch. I'm not unhappy.

    What other advice do I have?

    Make sure that you know what you want and that you understand what the product does so that you don't purchase more agents than you need or, on the other hand, that you don't purchase fewer agents than you need. Understand what you're trying to solve before you purchase the solution. That way, you know what you want to do. And if they still offer the trial periods or the pilots, take them up on that offer.

    The biggest take away from using the solution is, "Why didn't I do it sooner?" when I think about all the time that was wasted. If I had known about it sooner, I would have purchased it sooner and saved even more.

    As for integrations with our own products, such as our ERP, those are with our ERP. They don't have to come out of SMA at all. One of the things that we're currently doing is extracting the enrollment information for our LMS and that's through flat CSV files. We create user files, enrollment files, and course files and send them up through SFTP or cURL. Now that we're moving to a new ERP, that integration is going to be more real-time, so we're not going to necessarily need those within the SMA product anymore. It's going to be real-time to the LMS. I'm not saying that OpCon is going away, because it's not. We're still going to need other things that it provides, that our new ERP is not going to provide for us.

    What we're going to be using OpCon for will be a little bit different than what we're using it for now. Payroll won't be using the Self Service anymore, once we go live with the new HR payroll system. It's going to be totally different. What we're going to be using OpCon for is more the integrations with other vendors that are not going to be out-of-the-box with the ERP. We're going to be creating command jobs to extract data using their APIs to create CSV files to then send to the vendor through SFTP. It's not going to be as significant on the running of jobs. It's going to be more of an assistance with the integrations that we're going to be running through the new ERP.

    Overall, I can't say enough about the company and the product. It's amazing.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
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    Buyer's Guide
    OpCon
    July 2022
    Learn what your peers think about OpCon. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: July 2022.
    619,967 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    System Analyst at a financial services firm with 51-200 employees
    Real User
    Enables users to check the results, review, work any exceptions, and then continue the process just by clicking a button
    Pros and Cons
    • "The biggest example in which OpCon has improved my organization is that we have to download and process files from the federal reserve several times a day. If we don't do it in a certain timeframe, we can be penalized. It's the fact that we can download these files, process them, get our accounting teams the information they need to work the exceptions that is one of the most important roles."
    • "The initial setup is very complex, but that's not necessarily something that needs to be improved. I'm told that in the next version they're improving the upgrade process. So that's in the works already."

    What is our primary use case?

    We host OpCon on a virtual server onsite. We do not replicate to a backup database. There are some other redundancies built-in, but we just have a single production server.

    Working at a credit union, it does all of our back-office processing. We have a smallish IT staff and we wanted to relieve the IT staff from having to do the daily manual processes that were in place at the time.

    OpCon handles all of our automated loads, uploads, and integration with our core financial application. We have expanded it to use their self-service options so that users may generate reports on the fly, or they might have manual steps along the way in their process. It allows them to check the results, review, work any exceptions and then continue the process just by clicking a button. They really like that part. It also has given us the opportunity to allow users that don't have access to the core to generate reports from the core and have it usually placed in a network share for them or emailed to them.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The biggest example in which OpCon has improved my organization is that we have to download and process files from the federal reserve several times a day. If we don't do it in a certain timeframe, we can be penalized. It's the fact that we can download these files, process them, get our accounting teams the information they need to work the exceptions that is one of the most important roles.

    It's also nightly processing. When we do our overnight processing, if there is a delay to a job, we can set up alerts to let us know that a particular job is running longer and the person on-call can log in, take a look at it, and see if everything is progressing normally or if there's a problem before it becomes a big issue the next day.

    Having the ability to monitor the process along the way with checks on a job when it's too long, it didn't finish on time, or a dependency is missing has been very helpful.

    OpCon saves our IT time. We eliminated our backroom processing, which would be all of the IT-related functions. So most definitely it saves IT time. Conservatively, it has saved two and a half hours daily just because of some of the things that we were doing for other departments and now the other departments can do that themselves. 

    Since we implemented it in 2016, a lot of other tasks have been incorporated into it. So if those other areas would have wanted us to do those tasks, it would have added to our burden. If we have free time, they're going to find a way to fill it. It does free our time to do other things, to concentrate on things that require brain power rather than just entry.

    Our overall productivity has also increased.

    What is most valuable?

    At its core, OpCon is a scheduler, but it can do so much more than that. The fact that it integrates with the core was the primary motivator in choosing this product. I was recruited for the position I'm at because of my experience with OpCon and my current company wanted to implement it.

    Its flexibility would be the greatest benefit to it. You can really come up with some creative scheduling solutions. You're only limited by your imagination with some of the stuff. There are some limitations to it, of course, but I would say the biggest plus is the flexibility that it offers and its integration to the core. 

    We use the self-service feature. We use it in our IT department, our mortgage department uses it, and our accounting department uses it. We're slowly introducing the features to other areas. As more users see it, I'm hoping more users will embrace it so that we can expand it even further.

    Our mortgage servicing users use it to run their daily processes. We have an integration with FICS, which is the product we use for our mortgage servicing. So they're able to utilize it to generate reports and do their daily postings.

    Our accounting department uses it for ACH and even to set the prompts to close the general monthly general ledger. Our lending department also uses it for some of their jobs to process uploads that go to other vendors.

    It's very helpful for reducing the complexity of the technical aspects of workload automation. It can be used as a simple checklist where you click the button. There are some things about it that might be improved upon as far as adding some features. That would be some nice things. SMA has always been very responsive to those types of input.

    The self-service feature increases users' productivity because some of the tasks that they still have to do manually are automated, but those manual checks give them a place to stop the process rather than having to do each step along the way annually. They still have those manual interventions that they have to do, but the self-service button allows them to put that check-in there so that they can do what they need to do and then begin a certain process rather than having to do the whole thing.

    It has also reduced calls to our IT department with the way we're using it. Previously a process might require the user to email IT staff to have us do the next step, to upload a file, something like that. Now we're removed from that situation and they just do it themselves.

    The same goes for the closing of the general ledger. It used to require notifying IT and then we'd have to set the job accordingly. Now IT is taken out of the mix. So the end-user department has control over that process.

    The automation of manual tasks has without a doubt reduced human error. Whenever you can automate something, as long as you have it set up correctly, to begin with, you totally reduce the chances of transposing a number or something like that.

    At my previous employment, once we implemented OpCon we pretty much eliminated one FTE position. The person didn't lose their job, but he had other tasks that he took on. They reduced the amount of workload by one person. That was a much larger credit union.

    If we had to do all of this manually, it would add up because we've added more tasks than what we originally had.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using OpCon at my current employer for about five years and at my previous company for another four or five years as well.

    We're on version 18.3 and we're looking to upgrade to the 20.0 version in the next month or so.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    In the time that I've worked on it, I've had one problem where the transaction log locked up. That was seven years ago. It was a while ago. It's solid. You have to do your due diligence with your typical maintenance and paying attention to things, but it's a solid product.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It seems to scale well, but then again we're limited. We only have one server.

    We have people in our indirect lending who use OpCon. They deal with our auto loans. We have our mortgage department servicing mortgages. We have our accounting people that manage the ACH and they rely on it also for downloading reports from various vendors that we use. Our contact center uses it to run reports and retrieve reports from the core.

    IT, of course, uses it. We manage everything for it. I use it for a variety of things from downloading reports to emailing to notifications. Most of our stuff is centered around the core. Most of our usage is centered on the core, but we're slowly branching out.

    We have plans to deploy a failover server, and we also anticipate doing more with our order servicing software, automating more processes for that.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support has been great. They've come up with solutions and they're very timely. They seem to be good people too.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is very complex, but that's not necessarily something that needs to be improved. I'm told that in the next version they're improving the upgrade process. So that's in the works already. 

    It integrates fairly well with things like basic scripting programs which is good. 

    OpCon is very powerful. That means it tends to be very complex. It doesn't always translate to usability. You can do anything in any way if you have the time and the knowledge, but it can be tricky figuring out how it's done. I haven't used much of the APIs other than some of the connectors, but I hear they've got some good support that way. I don't have any one thing that I'd say would be an improvement upon it except for perhaps making the calendar, the scheduling functionality a bit more intuitive. Some of the ways that they implement the calendar functions aren't as intuitive as they could be.

    For some jobs, the setup is very straightforward. For others, they required more complexity. I have some that when we first set it up, the complex ones were downloading our federal reserve files and processing those, but the technical account manager that assisted was great with working with us on that. 

    Having them there with implementing it certainly is required. But beyond that, the people that I've encountered, even when I was at a previous employer, were always very good at helping us get through what we needed to do.

    There have been times that I've sent in a question to their support and I'll get a couple of different people emailing me back saying, "Oh yeah, I heard about this. Have you tried this?" Everyone's very active in trying to assist clients if they have some expertise there.

    We worked with both our SMA technical account managers and then we were assigned someone through Jack Henry Symitar Episys, through their automation group. 

    Once we got everything implemented, I had time with my technical account manager to set things up, but prior, I had time with our core provider and their implementation specialist to go through our nightly processing the critical stuff and making sure we had everything set up. That was the baseline process to get us started. After that, it was up to us what we wanted it to automate.

    They took care of our nightly processing and then our account manager helped me do some of the daily processes. Since I already had previous experience, there were a lot of things I felt that I could do. He'd come up with solutions for the things I didn't feel that way for.

    The deployment took a week.

    What about the implementation team?

    It was through our core provider that we got the product. Since we went through them, that was the primary thing to get automated and they provided it in collaboration with SMA.

    The people at SMA have been great as far as working with them. They're responsive. When I've interacted with them, they've always been great. The company has been very good.

    What was our ROI?

    ROI has been great. It does keep me busy because I'm the one who manages it, but it eliminates work for a lot of others. And my goal is to automate a lot of stuff so people can spend their time thinking about how to fix the complex stuff, not remembering that they have to do the little stuff.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The licensing has just changed recently. They just moved over to a new tiered pricing model and so I'm waiting to see what shakes out with that.

    When we got ours, we had bought add-ons at the time, but with the tiered pricing, a lot of those add-ons are included. I'm not aware of any additional costs at this time.

    The company had been recently sold and there were some hiccups with their new pricing, their tier pricing, but our salesman worked with us. Our account rep worked with us and got us something that both sides are agreeable to. OpCon does very well trying to do right by its client base. I can't fault that.

    What other advice do I have?

    Advice that I would give to people considering OpCon would be to really understand what your needs are, understand how OpCon can fit into your environment, and realize that it can be very complex and can become very cumbersome if you're not careful. You can automate a lot of things and have a lot of different processes automated, but you still need to document and have a clear goal as to what you're doing and why you're doing it.

    Take the free training that they have. Go to the biannual conference they have. You can pick up a lot of information that way. Immerse yourself in the product, in the documentation, and understand what's going on with it.

    Have a clear plan before you start doing anything on how you want to handle it if a job fails. Do you want to have it restarted? Do you want to have it notify someone? You have to have a clear plan on what you hope to accomplish with an automated task before you put it into production.

    The biggest lesson I have learned is that error checking is important. When you have a failure, you need to know. You should have a plan on how to handle job failures so that, if the primary person is available, the backup can either take care of it or the process will automatically self-recover.

    I would rate OpCon a nine out of ten. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good.

    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
    PeerSpot user
    Data Center Manager at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Enabled us to go from manual scheduling to automating it, resulting in considerably fewer errors and time savings
    Pros and Cons
    • "We're also starting to use its Self Service and Solution Manager. My team in the data center and some of the development team use the Self Service. Developers are using the Self Service for upon-request jobs for their testing. They used to have to go through us to schedule testing and now they can just go on and kick it off all they want. They have also really appreciated that they have access to view and/or submit jobs."
    • "Of course they have a RESTful API within OpCon, but they have that new web services agent that we installed because we have some SOAP APIs and we had to interact with SMA to get things running. Our developers did do some tweaks, but we have now been able to get some test jobs running, and understand how the workflow goes back and forth."

    What is our primary use case?

    Our use cases for OpCon are expanding. We initially went with it because we're a Unisys mainframe company and they were the only scheduler that did what we wanted it to, and that also supports Unisys. But we have branched out into running Windows SQL jobs, and we will soon be starting up API interaction. Hopefully at some point, because we are going cloud and the mainframe is going away, we'll start interacting with that also. We'll start doing that change within the next three to six months.

    How has it helped my organization?

    I've been here from day one, and it has gone from us manually writing out schedules, and operators having to remember pre's and posts, etc.—all done manually—to getting that automated. Once that was all automated, it was a huge improvement for us because there were considerably fewer errors. The errors are very minimal now. When someone implements a job, if they have a typo or copied a similar job and forgot to change something, those would be about the only errors that we have now. We're down to hardly any. We now have less than one a week.

    The improvement with the Solution Manager, so that the programmers can become more aware of what's going on within the scheduler, has really helped us.

    OpCon has also saved our IT department time. There is a lot less interaction with the developers. Developers are aware of the information they need to give us to place something into the scheduler. We've set up a template, they send in that information, we get it implemented for them, and they're up and running. We used to ask them to give us two workday weeks to get something implemented for them and, depending on the complexity, that's down to a day or less, at times.

    With IT time freed up, we've been able to move forward with other business needs, especially now because of the switchover and the mainframe going away. It has enabled my staff to start studying other aspects of our IT areas.

    With the Self Service feature, person-hours have decreased. We still don't use it to its full potential, but it's helped on the development side for testing. It has definitely sped up the developers' testing processes, and it enables them to get things to production a lot quicker. They're happy with that. The Self Service has also reduced calls to our IT department when it comes to testing, for sure. As a result, my staff has a little more time to work on other things, rather than fielding calls left and right from the programmers. That helps a lot.

    What is most valuable?

    Now that we can get into the API and we're starting to learn that, it's really nice. 

    We're also starting to use its Self Service and Solution Manager. My team in the data center and some of the development team use the Self Service. Developers are using the Self Service for upon-request jobs for their testing. They used to have to go through us to schedule testing and now they can just go on and kick it off all they want. They have also really appreciated that they have access to view and/or submit jobs.

    Working with the various APIs has actually allowed us to keep the scheduler, because there were those in our company who were thinking about looking for something else, given that they were considering it to only be a mainframe scheduler. As new options and agents and connectors have come along, that's opened their eyes a little bit more.

    What needs improvement?

    It's been a while since we've asked for tweaks. Because we're a little bit of a slower company, they have something out by the time we start checking into, "Hey, can you give us an idea on how this works?" or "This is how we want to use it."

    An example is the API. Of course they have a RESTful API within OpCon, but they have that new web services agent that we installed because we have some SOAP APIs and we had to interact with SMA to get things running. Our developers did do some tweaks, but we have now been able to get some test jobs running, and understand how the workflow goes back and forth. 

    When they initially set up SQL agents, they helped us set up that too.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using the OpCon for 16 to 18 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability has been very good.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We haven't had any issues with scalability. I've been to a few of their conferences where there are banks that are OpCon customers and they have thousands of jobs that they run, or even hundreds of thousands of jobs. We've got plenty of room to expand.

    I'm hoping, with our moving off the mainframe, that we will have a chance to really branch out. Initially, the company just looked at it as the mainframe scheduler, so we weren't really able to ask for additional instances. Hopefully, as we go along, we may be able to grab some of the other options.

    We're running on the order of thousands of jobs monthly. Our future usage depends on how well we can get everybody to jump on the bandwagon, but I see it staying at that amount, if not increasing, as we move towards the cloud and other options.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    From our dealings with them, I think they've done an excellent job when we're in a crunch. They get more than one person on the phone and we haven't ever had any bad experiences with them. When new levels come out they've helped us. And the marketing guy, Christian, he checks in all the time.

    How was the initial setup?

    Deployment would not take very long now, with the way they have the install set up.

    We usually do a test server to start with, just to make sure everything went well before we do production. This last one took about an hour or two on the test side. We ran into something with updating the database. It was something on our side that the database administrators had locked down, so it wasn't working quite right between when we installed in test and installed in production; they had tightened the permissions down. Other than that, it takes us about an hour to get through what we need done.

    My implementation strategy for deploying it for the first time would be to put it to test in our test database, and then grab a few jobs from each type of job we run and see how it works with the test database. I would then check with the developers that everything looks like it ran okay and then we would take a weekend and deploy it to production. Of course, we would do testing there as well. Since it's VM, we just have the VM guys ramp up a new server, so it's always a new install and, if it doesn't work, we can always fall back to the old version and the old server.

    For deployment, we usually bring two of us in, and that's it. For maintenance of OpCon, we only have one or two people, as backup. We have operators per shift who actually run it, but for maintenance there are only a couple of people. One of them is me, in my role as a data center manager, and the second individual is part of my staff.

    In terms of the number of users of OpCon, the numbers have dropped now that we're moving off of mainframe, but we'll be picking back up. Currently there are about 100 programmers that could possibly have access. We don't have that many yet in Self Service. And there are 12 on our staff that use it, including a couple of admins, a couple of implementation people, and the rest are operators.

    What about the implementation team?

    When we first had it installed, there was a really great guy who came in, who doesn't work with them anymore. We had some training onsite while he was here. We weren't really involved at that point in time in installing it ourselves. It was always an OpCon representative showing up. Now, it's more the case that we install and get a hold of them if we have any issues.

    What was our ROI?

    We've always been on our own with this scheduler, so it's helped out our department and I feel it's helped out the programmers quite a bit. It has automated a lot of things, which should help our IT as a whole, because we haven't had to have the largest staff.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    At the same time that I'm trying to keep it in our company, everybody thinks it's very expensive. We haven't looked at other schedulers or what they can do for us, but that's what I'm always told.

    Aside from the standard licensing fee, there aren't any other costs that come with it. We have the enterprise option so it's one annual fee for whatever we can do with it. You have to have the enterprise level for the mainframe, and that gives us room to grow.

    What other advice do I have?

    It's awesome to have the automation and to let it do things for you, but you need to stick with it and really figure out how to optimize it.

    I'm still working on trying to explain to others in our organization that when it comes to server reboots and things like that, OpCon can do that for them too. They may not be interested in that as they have their own third-party software. I haven't gotten a lot of them to hop on the bandwagon yet. Our VMware guys are still stuck to their guns. We'll have to find out how much we do go into the cloud or on-prem to see if we can't help them out in those areas.

    We don't use OpCon's Vision feature yet. Our company is very conservative, so it's a slow process. Unless you can get a lot of people onboard, it's hard to get things pushed through. I'm hoping others will see how well it interacts with the various types of systems and how it processes the jobs back and forth, through the various versions, and that they'll see a little more use for it. Another aspect is budget, because right now we're trying to move to the cloud and a lot of people are being trained at the moment and having to run legacy, side-by-side, versus new. So there's a money-crunch thing.

    It's a good product. They can run almost anything you need to run, as far as I am aware. And the staff is really great to work with. It's a plus on all sides, in my opinion.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
    PeerSpot user
    Rani Jackson - PeerSpot reviewer
    Manager, Computer Operations at a financial services firm with 501-1,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Keeps business flowing and with proactivity
    Pros and Cons
    • "There are a lot of valuable features. The version that we're currently casting, Self Service, is going to be the most valuable to us. It is going to allow us to open up the doors, broaden our automation capability and help other business units to be able to automate a lot of the little things that they do from day to day. I'm really looking forward to being able to help other areas with their automation needs. Self Service is really key."
    • "Enterprise Manager is a little clunky which I know they're addressing in the solution's manager."

    What is our primary use case?

    We have OpCon in our test environment, we're testing that right now and putting it into production next month.

    Our primary use cases are for our core system that does batch processing for our core system, which is Symitar. We have automated about 90% of our daily processing. And we have started to branch out to utilize it more for Self Service where our other business units can automate some of their processing as well.

    How has it helped my organization?

    The fact that if you automate your core processing, in our case, alleviates the need to make sure that if somebody is running late or somebody calls in sick, your jobs are still going to run, they're still going to be on time. It has notifications built-in to let you know if something has failed or has missed the start time. It really keeps your business flowing and with proactivity. That's been the biggest example for my institution. It's the fact that we're a 24-hour shop. There's no downtime. It keeps us running and moving. We're about 90% automated if we look at our core processing. 

    The automation of manual tasks has reduced human error by at least 40 hours a week. It's essentially saving another person. 

    It has saved our IT team time by automating things a lot less wait time for people waiting for my team to actually run processes or transfer things. There's no delay in between the time when something is supposed to happen and when it happens.

    We are able to move forward with business needs. My team is now able to learn, do additional training and other facets of IT. Rather than spending the time blending jobs, transferring, and doing things manually, they're now able to work on other projects within the organization. They're learning more about different areas of how other things function within IT. We become more project-oriented than process-oriented. We're able to identify things within the business that we can automate or that could be changed. We've gone from reactive to proactive

    We are at least 80% more productive. 

    What is most valuable?

    There are a lot of valuable features. The version that we're currently casting, Self Service, is going to be the most valuable to us. It is going to allow us to open up the doors, broaden our automation capability and help other business units to be able to automate a lot of the little things that they do from day to day. I'm really looking forward to being able to help other areas with their automation needs. Self Service is really key.

    OpCon is pretty easy to use. I'm not a programmer, I had no formal training. They offer some basic training courses. They also have a lot of documentation online and their support staff is super helpful. So it's pretty easy as long as you can take the time to familiarize yourself. It's a pretty easy application.

    For the Enterprise Manager, the UI is okay. It puts your processing in alphabetical order instead of the actual processing order, but they are building a new UI. They really are on track to make it even more user-friendly. It's like they're listening to some of the common complaints from their customers, or they started to build out what we need or what we are looking for.

    We are setting up the Self Service feature right now. That's going to be our biggest list in our organization. We just installed it and went through our training a few weeks ago. My team is building Self Service buttons in our testing environment right now.

    What needs improvement?

    Enterprise Manager is a little clunky which I know they're addressing in the solution's manager. 

    It's annoying that our processes are listed alphabetically. It should be listed in dependency order or order of processing. That's one thing that drives me crazy. That's my biggest issue.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I have been using OpCon since October of 2010.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    They've gone through some changes recently with the owner, but I know that they're on the right track. I feel that they're very stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    They see that there are other competitors out in the market that do what they do. So they want to make sure that they stay relevant and are able to keep up with changing technology. They put a lot of stuff in the new release from 19 to 20. The team has been working really hard to take that stuff into account, like how to future-proof and make this more flexible. I think it's very scalable.

    Currently, six of the admin users are me and my team. And we are primary users of OpCon, which means that we are monitoring and setting up. And then we have our Symitar administrative, our core host system administrative who's also involved. We also have our payments team who used to do ACH and draft returns. They are primary users as well.

    For deployment, you really only need a couple of people, but I'd like to ensure that my entire team is well trained. You don't necessarily need seven people, if one or two people have a backup is plenty. My team's official title is Computer Operators. They're basically responsible for batch processing and file transfers within the credit union.

    Right now 90% of the usage is my team with a small bit with our payments team. So one thing we've been able to do is learn more about the product, go out to our business and see what their needs are. With the new version and the Self Service features, we plan on branching out because Self Service allows business partners not to have to log in to either our core system or the OpCon system, it's through a UI or URL. And so the thought there is that we will be able to branch this out to accounting collections. The payments team has the other items and the card services team as well. There are certain processes in the run in our core and we would like to automate those so that they can just either run automatically or they control when they run them through.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    We will start with Symitar and sometimes Symitar will refer us back to SMA. They work really well together and we're able to come to a resolution, but sometimes it's both systems in OpCon and Symitar that have an issue.

    SMA support is super helpful. They're a great team.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We also looked at DMC. OpCon has a relationship with Symitar. That was a selling point for us because they have a close relationship and they already have several Symitar clients using OpCon and they came with great reviews. DMC had several other core systems that they were automating but Symitar wasn't the main system. So we just felt more comfortable going with SMA.

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We had a great team. We had both SMA and Jack Henry, which is our core vendor. They were both on-site. They worked really well together. They were very hands-on in training and had me and my team involved in the whole process.

    The deployment took us two weeks. We wanted to implement it in the test first so that we could see how it interacted with our core and our other systems within our network. So that's where we first installed it so that we could do our basic setup and testing. And then once those testing passed, then we set aside some time to set it up in a production environment. Because we obviously didn't just didn't want to gung ho and go back into production.

    What about the implementation team?

    We use Jack Henry. They are our Symitar, which is our core processor, our integrator.

    They told us about SMA because SMA has a relationship with Jack Henry as a core processor. They did a lot of their automation. Jack Henry told us about SMA, which is how I came to bring them on board. Because they had already built a lot of automation for our core processing. They already had a business relationship. 

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    We currently renewed with one of their new technology bundles. It's around $36,000 annually. We run a query of our SQL in our SQL database to see how many jobs we run. They're charging us per usage and whatever add-ons you want to use with OpCon.

    What other advice do I have?

    My advice would be to ask a lot of questions. Make sure that you involve your entire staff from beginning to end. OpCon was a really easy experience. Having them on-site, sitting next to you with hands-on experience, you can't beat it. They're not hiding anything. I really appreciated the amount of effort that they put into showing up, training, and following through as well. Whenever something did go wrong, they're always there to support you.

    We consider OpCon to be one of our tier-one applications, meaning it's almost as critical and important as our core host system. We haven't done any vendor comparisons in ten years because we're very happy with them. 

    Typing matters. A lot of what you enter is manually typed. So watch your spacing, watch your fat fingers and copy and paste or copy schedules wherever possible. And then the other trick is eventually you always have a frequency. Those are the few things that I mess up on that really make my whole deployment delayed because I can't find why it's not working and it's always usually because I have an extra space somewhere or character I didn't need. Watch your typing and have a second set of eyes.

    I would rate OpCon a ten out of ten. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
    PeerSpot user
    Tom Gibson - PeerSpot reviewer
    IT Analyst I at REDWOOD CREDIT UNION
    Real User
    Top 10
    Easily scalable with excellent technical support and good stability
    Pros and Cons
    • "Last year, we added a second environment and the OpCon Deploy product. This has allowed us to build a testing environment. This has been a great addition for us as we can work through our workflows without disrupting our production environment."
    • "Upgrading to newer versions remains complex."

    What is our primary use case?

    We primarily use OpCon to manage daily activities, generate reports, and handle FTP jobs for our full-service credit union.

    How has it helped my organization?

    OpCon improves our daily operations by automating many manual functions. OpCon's ability to run jobs in our host system allows us to create simple, effective automation that requires minimal employee interaction - thus helping improve our efficiency and reducing errors. We also use it for many other systems and also to trigger various scripts such as PowerShell and Python.

    The automation of manual tasks using OpCon has reduced human error. In any place that we implement OpCon Automation, it removes the ability for inputting something incorrectly, and/or it will throw out an error. If we are asking for input, if they put it in incorrectly, it doesn't then attempt to run the process. It stops and says, "You did this wrong." We have that ability to kind of put those parameters in there as opposed to entering something incorrectly and then not finding out about it until the next day like, "Oh shoot, we updated a parameter and we missed a zero." OpCon definitely gives us a better feel for that. We have on my self-service alone probably 40 jobs in here. Then in our daily list running, we have over a hundred schedules running different things on a day-to-day basis. So I don't know how I can quantify how much it's reduced but it's over 50%.

    OpCon has saved time for our IT team overall. In just over the years that we've done it, we keep adding new things to it. As an example, we're getting better at writing scripts that we can then execute with OpCon to alert us to various things that might be happening either in a host system or something like that. Thereby that then reduces research time to try to figure out when something went wrong. You can get a little bit deeper into it if you start using the advanced failure criteria where you can then have it so that you can say, "Hey, if you see this exit code, do this." Doing a little job output parsing, finding some different ways to push out notifications that let us know that something's gone wrong well in advance of a department coming back to us and saying, "Hey, this report didn't print the way we wanted." Or, "This process seems to be off." It definitely reduces the time that we spend looking into these projects or into these problems.

    With IT time freed up, our organization has been able to move forward with other business needs. The company is learning that the ability to automate some of these things is freeing up time. Even if we're doing short-term stuff, for example with the PPP loans, the loans that financial institutions were giving out to businesses during the pandemic to help out. There's a ton of work and paperwork that goes along with that. I've been working with them to help them build some automation so that to flag loans on particular loans for particular reasons, or to pull data to send to our main house, to send out letters. That's a small example of what we're working on there.

    OpCon increased our organization's overall productivity. It's hard to quantify it from my position in a company of 758 people. I don't have the statistics for all the other departments.

    What is most valuable?

    Last year, we added a second environment and the OpCon Deploy product. This has allowed us to build a testing environment. This has been a great addition for us as we can work through our workflows without disrupting our production environment. 

    Our users use the self-service features. We have a number of them set up and their self-services are actually called Solution Manager. My accounting group uses it and my payments group probably uses it the heaviest. A lot of times we use it for daily postings, either GL postings or we have various different payroll postings that the payments group has to process based on some accounting groups that we work with and things like that, that have to be done a little bit separately than the regular payroll postings that we do. That's just the tip of the iceberg, I do have it set up for a few other groups just to do things like upload or actually transfer files via FTP to other vendors. It's a one-step process where they've created a file and that file needs to be consumed in some way, either via our host system or sent out to a vendor.

    The self-service feature reduces the complexity of the technical aspects of workload automation. We've been using OpCon since 2012. Being able to give somebody a self-service button that they can press to consume a file to run a process within our host system was a huge advantage. Before, somebody had to go into the host system, run a particular batch job, manually type some things in that could also then be typed in incorrectly and create problems. It's taken a lot of steps away from what used to be a very manual process. People in other departments are not always technically minded like we are in IT, it helps them to focus on what their job is as opposed to having to do their job and then understand how to run this whole major IT process.

    The self-service feature definitely increased our user's productivity. I can remember when we had an eight-page checklist that we had to go down each item and run each of these, "Step one, do this. Step two, do that." And when we brought OpCon and that clearly reduced all of that daily having to go through a checklist. We actually had one person in IT, and their job for the day was to run the checklist. Once we went to OpCon automation, whether self-service or just fully automating some things, it reduced that checklist to basically nothing at this point.

    What needs improvement?

    Upgrading to newer versions remains complex. I am not sure if this can be streamlined however, as when the enterprise needs to be updated, typically, all associated agents throughout the environment also need to be updated. Also, all agents, connectors, etc. all need to be on the same version for compatibility. Good documentation of your environment as it grows is very important.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We've been using OpCon since 2012.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    OpCon is a very stable enterprise. We have had very few downtime issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Due to the fact that OpCon works with Windows and UNIX commands, it can be expanded into many areas along with embedding PowerShell scripts, etc. We continue to find new ways to utilize OpCon.

    How are customer service and support?

    I have worked closely with many technicians at SMA and all have been excellent and committed to finding solutions that work.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    OpCon is an expensive and complex solution that will take time to learn. However, once it is in place, it removes many manual processes throughout the organization. It would be best to start small with the some of the main functions first and then build up from there.  

    What other advice do I have?

    We do not currently use OpCon's Vision features. Mainly because I've been doing it for so long and I learned through the older enterprise manager, that's where I spend most of my time. I do know that SMA has made a point of really moving the operational side of OpCon to their URL and more into the Solution Manager, which would then force us to really start using the Vision more.

    It's like any other enterprise system, as they grow and we move things more to a more visual GUI type interface, then you kind of have to just grow with however the vendor grows. I'm looking at Vision like, "Do I really look at this? No." I don't even know if this is connected. We're not really set up for Vision yet so it's probably a while. It's down the road before we start using this.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Information Systems Architect at Cornerstone Bank
    User
    Great self-service with a useful script repository error handling
    Pros and Cons
    • "The end code response allows us to evaluate how a process finished, set the termination/end code appropriately, and then trigger further processing based on how it ended."
    • "More functionality within self-service would be greatly appreciated."

    What is our primary use case?

    OpCon has primarily been used to automate our backend IBM and Windows processing. Largely, this involves file transfers, IBM i job submissions, Powershell scripts, and SQL queries. 

    We use OpCon to build workflows of related processes to ensure that things are run in the correct sequence. Logic is in place to ensure errors are handled appropriately, and often automatically. OpCon's Solution Manager is also used to empower other users to initiate processes, where previously tech involvement was needed. 

    OpCon is the glue that joins numerous processes and various systems into a single cohesive and centralized experience. 

    How has it helped my organization?

    In my department, OpCon has largely removed the human error from our nightly processing. Clicking or launching the wrong program is a thing of the past, now that OpCon has taken over the processing. When employee turnover occurs, items that have been handled by OpCon are no longer a concern, due to the fact that the process will continue to function as expected. 

    Error handling and reporting have also been a great benefit. Often when things in our environment break, OpCon will generate a notification to us of the diagnosed problem. We also heavily use OpCon's IBM Message Management system to identify messages displayed on our i Series and respond appropriately. This ensures critical messages are seen as well as tracked when required. 

    Self-service has also been a great benefit to us. We're able to build processes within OpCon and give the end-user the ability to initiate them with inputs. Where previously this couldn't be done due to the security concerns of giving the end user that capability, now we can grant a batch user used by OpCon those permissions. This enables us to keep tight control over permissions, but grant some extended functionality through Solution Manager. 

    What is most valuable?

    The self-service is great as it enables users to initiate processes within OpCon without giving them access to more functionality than required. It relieves stress off the technology department, as more users are able to facilitate their own processes without a call to tech.

    IBM LSAM has a very robust set of tools to monitor and run the various processes on an IBM i mainframe. It has the functionality to mimic operator input and capture data off of the screen for evaluation. The two most heavily used features of the LSAM in our environment are the Message Management and Scan Spoolfile functions. These allow us to capture information from message logs as well as spool files and launch further processing through the LSAM or OpCon itself. 

    The smart email allows us to retrieve emails from a specified account and triggers further processing. Again, it allows another avenue for external users to initiate processes without needing to contact us. 

    The script repository enables us to hold "scripts" that can be run on various machines - Windows in our case. It supports versioning and documentation.

    The end code response allows us to evaluate how a process finished, set the termination/end code appropriately, and then trigger further processing based on how it ended. 

    What needs improvement?

    It's a pricey product. The new license model gave us access to a lot of functionality that we're not likely to use any time soon. The cost of the product is now also determined by the number of jobs you run through the software. There are pros and cons to this method, but now I have to evaluate if a simple function is worth the cost to automate before doing so. 

    More functionality within self-service would be greatly appreciated. We're needing to look at other solutions in conjunction with OpCon as the number of user inputs available within self-service doesn't always meet our needs. If self-service could be improved to pull information from OpCon to "pre-fill" inputs, that would also create a much more seamless and powerful experience. 

    It would also be fantastic if we could create our own job subtypes. There are quite a few that come with the software, but being able to create your own would mean you could standardize how parameters are provided to executable programs/scripts. 

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've used the solution for more than 4 years.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Very rarely do we experience anything that would make me question OpCon's stability. 

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    It's very scalable, especially given the new license model which allows installation on "unlimited" Windows machines. However, detailed knowledge of the product may be required to make use of it properly. It takes time and experience to make great use of the software. 

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Usually, this is a positive experience, however, occasionally I feel like we're getting the run-around or being offered solutions that don't appear to be applicable to the issue. Very rarely is an issue not resolved within a week. 

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We did not look at anything else of this caliber. We made heavy use of Windows Task Scheduler and the IBM Job Scheduler. The process worked, but everything was scattered and we really needed a centralized point of contact for all our automation.

    How was the initial setup?

    SMA was onsite to implement the software initially. Largely, this was straightforward and any bugs or issues that came up we were able to work through shortly after SMA left. 

    What about the implementation team?

    We had an internal team that worked with our implementation team from SMA to set up the product. SMA was incredibly knowledgeable of the OpCon ins and outs. Particularly the IBM contact with SMA was extremely impressive in their ability to provide robust solutions and bug fixes to problems in a very quick manner (often within a few hours of reporting the issue). 

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    In our environment, OpCon is much more expensive than it used to be a year ago. Licensing changes no longer allow us to automate to our heart's content in our "small" environment. Now, the cost to automate needs to be evaluated as new items are put into the software because it's likely you will be charged for them. 

    Getting a good handle as to what SMA charges can also be helpful so that new processes can be created in a way that incurs a smaller expense. As an example, using a single script to accomplish what multiple jobs could do otherwise. 

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    Yes. We looked at Help Systems Robot.

    What other advice do I have?

    Overall, OpCon has been an amazing addition to our automation toolbelt. While current prices sting a little, given past pricing, it has been well worth the cost and peace of mind. 

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Systems Programmer at a insurance company with 1,001-5,000 employees
    Real User
    Top 20
    Great GUI, excellent technical support and very stable
    Pros and Cons
    • "Thus far we have only had a few minor problems, all of which the vendor addressed quickly. We have not encountered any major problems. The product is very stable and reliable."
    • "We are still in the early stages of our implementation, so at this point, I cannot see any needed improvements or features."

    What is our primary use case?

    We run thousands of processes/jobs on z/OS (mainframe), Unix/Linux, and Windows. In many cases, these processes have cross-platform dependencies. 

    We also have two separate OpCon databases - one for production and one for development. This is the usual case of implementing and testing new jobs/schedules in development prior to promoting them to production.

    We literally run our business on OpCon and as such OpCon needs to be, and is a 24/7 enterprise scheduling system. It cannot be down. Thus far, we have found it to be very resilient.

    How has it helped my organization?

    It is still early in our OpCon implementation, however, thus far it has shown its value in ease of use - both in terms of maintaining and implementing jobs/tasks and through its use of a relational database, which gives us enormous power in reporting and updating information.

    Change does not come easily to people. That said, due to OpCon being a modern, graphical system our schedulers and developers have enthusiastically embraced it and this has made the transition from our previous system much smoother than we had anticipated. 

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable aspects of the solution for us are:

    The GUI. Our previous scheduling software had a graphical user interface but this was nothing more than an add-on. It constantly had problems and eventually was abandoned due to its unreliability. Since migrating to OpCon we are now in a purely graphical environment. This provides more information in a smaller space and makes administration a point-and-click process.

    The Database. OpCon uses an SQL Server as its data repository. This has given us substantially more capability for reporting and updates.

    The deployment. OpCon has a deploy concept which is a methodology to implement change management to schedules.

    What needs improvement?

    We cutover to OpCon from a previous solution approximately six weeks ago so we are still in the early stages of our implementation. That said it is difficult to ascertain what improvements could be made at this early stage.

    If I had to select something I'd say that the web based interface, Solution Manager, should have more functionality. Enterprise Manager, the desktop interface is extremely powerful but SMA's strategic direction is Solution Manager. We have found it difficult to have people rely solely on Solution Manager.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    We recently migrated to OpCon from another vendor's scheduling system and have now been running our shop's tasks for approximately six weeks. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    Thus far we have only had a few minor problems, all of which the vendor addressed quickly. We have not encountered any major problems. The product is very stable and reliable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    Scalability is dependent on the underlying database. Given that OpCon uses SQL Server, we are very confident in its ability to scale.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Thus far, we have only had a few minor issues but the vendor's responses were quick - as were their solutions. We have no complaints.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We switched from a different vendor's scheduling system. We implemented a project that encompassed a requirements definition, a vendor questionnaire, demos, and finally a selection of a product.

    We switched from our old scheduler for multiple reasons. First, the vendor was asking far too much money for an upgrade. Also, we found this vendor's support weak at best. Finally, we wanted something that presented a modern user interface, which the old system tried to implement but it was a poor attempt.

    How was the initial setup?

    We migrated from a mainframe-based solution using a proprietary database to a Windows-based solution using a SQL Server database. Given the enormity of this level of change, the transition and setup were remarkably smooth. I consider this to have been a straightforward setup.

    What about the implementation team?

    As part of our migration to OpCon we contracted SMA Technologies, the OpCon vendor, to perform the migration in concert with our scheduling team.

    The SMA team was excellent. Their knowledge of SQL Server, z/OS and Windows was extraordinary. I cannot say enough good things about them.

    What was our ROI?

    As of right now, the ROI is undetermined.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    Be sure to consider post-implementation costs. In our case, we contracted with the vendor for ongoing assistance given our lack of experience and manpower with a Windows-based solution.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We considered CA's Workload Automation but they would not return our calls. They had recently been acquired by another company so perhaps that had something to do with it.

    We also considered Tidal Workload Automation but decided it was not a good fit for our environment.

    We had previously attempted to migrate to IBM Workload Scheduler but could not make this work.

    BMC's Control-M was given very serious consideration but we did not like the way BMC treated us. Control-M surely would have worked but the marketing team caused us concern.

    What other advice do I have?

    I highly recommend OpCon to any organization considering either a new implementation or a migration from a previous vendor's system. In our case we migrated from a previous system and SMA Technologies did what another vendor could not. It took six months and the cutover went remarkably smooth given the level of change.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    On-premises
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free OpCon Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.
    Updated: July 2022
    Product Categories
    Workload Automation
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free OpCon Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.