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Volume 9, Number 12 -- March 24, 2009

Help/Systems Extends i OS Job Scheduler to Linux and Unix

Published: March 24, 2009

by Alex Woodie

Interested in scheduling and controlling jobs for AIX, Solaris, and Linux servers from the comfort and security of your System i? Now you can, thanks to Help/Systems, which last week launched a new product called Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise. The new product extends to open systems (and soon Windows and HP-UX) the features that made the standard version of Robot/SCHEDULE so popular among AS/400 shops over the last decade, including event-driven job scheduling.

Open systems folks and AS/400 types are worlds apart when it comes to job scheduling and batch job management, says Tom Huntington, vice president of technical services for Help/Systems. AS/400 devotees see job scheduling as just another piece of software that runs on the AS/400, alongside everything else, whereas many open systems shops have been trained to provision and care for yet another X86 server to act as a cross-platform job scheduler.

With rack space at a premium in many data centers, Help/Systems--a vendor with a decidedly pro-AS/400 bias--decided to shake up their assumptions a bit, and give IT outfits the capability to run cross-platform job control software on what is most likely the most stable and secure system in their data center: the IBM Power Systems server (AKA, the AS/400). ("Then they say, 'Now we have to worry about all of our eggs being in one basket,'" Huntington muses. "Network guys don't get it.")

Robot/SCHEULE Enterprise is a special version of Help's i OS-based job scheduler that includes Java-based agents that deploy to AIX, Solaris, and Linux. These agents communicate with the primary Robot/SCHEDULE component, which still resides on the System i server, to receive jobs, which are executed via scripts on the Unix and Linux servers. The agents also send return codes back to Robot/SCHEDULE to let it know how and when jobs have been completed.

Customers can set up their Unix and Linux job schedule in various ways using the Windows-based Robot/SCHEDULE Explorer. Schedules can be set against the clock, providing a well-defined (if not necessarily efficient) schedule.

More advanced customers will undoubtedly use Robot/SCHEDULE's event-based job scheduling capabilities to connect their various servers into a cohesive unit. With event-based job scheduling, jobs on one platform can be executed in reaction to events occurring on other platforms, such as the creation, deletion, or modification of a file or directory; whether a file is growing; or when a process starts or ends.

The new product, which replaces the old Robot/CLIENT product, makes other Robot/SCHEDULE features, such as schedule forecasting, the Schedule Activity Monitor (SAM), and the Job Schedule List, available to Unix and Linux shops. System i shops that have already learned Robot/SCHEDULE's terminology and how to work with scheduling objects will have no problem applying those skills to other platforms, the company says.

Like other Help/Systems products, the new job scheduler also gains connections to other products in the Robot suite, including Robot/ALERT, the Robot/CONSOLE message center, and the Robot/NETWORK status center.

Customer demand for support for AIX, Solaris, and Red Hat and SuSE Linux was strong, although Help/Systems will expand the product to Windows and HP-UX by the middle of the quarter, Huntington says. "This new offering is very robust and will solve a lot of business issues with scheduling across platforms," he says.

Existing Robot/SCHEDULE customers will be offered an upgrade to Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise. Pricing for Robot/SCHEDULE was not disclosed. For more information, visit www.helpsystems.com.


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