UC4 Addresses IT Complexity with Enhanced Job Scheduler
April 7, 2009 Alex Woodie
In response to today’s increasingly complex enterprise computing environments, job scheduler developer UC4 has released the first iteration of its new “rapid automation” technology that it says can significantly ease the burden of developing integrated job schedules that touch multiple platforms and applications. The version 8.0 release of the Workload Automation Suite also includes a new graphical workload analyzer aimed at making it easier for users to understand what jobs are running and which resources are being consumed.
As the only software company focused entirely on job schedulers, UC4 is well positioned to understand the unique roles that job schedulers play in the data centers of mid size and large companies. According to Marc Carkeek, UC4’s vice president product development, job scheduling is becoming a more critical function as the result of the growing complexity of enterprise computer systems and the increasing reliance on IT to accomplish business tasks.
“Complexity is really driving it. Technology has become so central to everything we do,” Carkeek says. “We need to be sure everything is happening, from folks closing [books] to orders being processed. And not only does this need to happen on a schedule, but on a dynamic schedule that changes as the business grows.”
UC4 is responding to this increased complexity and enterprise reliance on IT by seeking to make job scheduling an easier and more intuitive task. To that end, the company released its Workload Automation Suite version 8.0, which begins a multi-year march to eventually unite the suite’s two main components, Operations Manager and Applications Manager.
Operations Manager is the UC4 heritage product that was first developed to support mainframe and data center operations at UC4’s headquarters in Austria. It is written primarily in C. Applications Manager is a newer product that UC4 obtained with its 2007 acquisition of Appworx. The product is written in Java, and provides deeper hooks into applications such as SAP and today’s database management systems.
With version 8.0 of the Automation Suite, UC4 has introduced a new scheduling development paradigm it calls rapid automation, or RA. This Java-based tool is designed to provide a common integration methodology across Operations Manager and Applications Manager, and to shield developers from the complexity of hooking specific applications or interfaces into the suite for enterprise scheduling.
“We’ve given them almost a programming model so they don’t have to worry about what’s doing the work behind it. They just know they have this job that can run and it does this function,” Carkeek says. “So all the technology behind it doesn’t matter as long as they know this is its place in the business or data center process.”
With this release, UC4 has delivered RA interfaces for a handful of applications, including FTP/sFTP, VMware‘s hypervisor, and SunGard Banner, an ERP application for schools. Future releases will bring more RA advances, including support for more virtualized environments, and cloud and SaaS computing.
Future releases of the Automation Suite will further integrate with virtualization offerings to provide rapid provisioning of virtual servers to handle new workloads, “on the fly, without thinking about it,” Carkeek says. “That’s where we’re expected to go, and we’re definitely poised for that.” UC4 is focused primarily on the X64 virtualization market, but could add support for IBM’s Power Systems LPAR virtualization if the need arose.
UC4 has a decent following on the System i (iSeries, AS/400), with more than 40 customers, including the Computer Research Institute (an implementation we covered last month), American Suzuki Motor Corp., Con-Way, and Cracker Barrel. However, Power Systems (eServer i5) shops account for just a fraction of UC4’s total installed base of 1,600.
Another timesaving device in the current version 8.0 release is the new Graphical Workload Analyzer. This interface is designed to provide a comprehensive view of all managed jobs, as well as critical path and predictive analysis capabilities to help users trace problems and anticipate resource demand. Gantt views are employed to give users a more nuanced view of their job scheduling environment.
Displaying this information visually can save customers a lot of time, Carkeek says. “Given that some companies are running thousands of jobs, they can’t parse through the information like that. They can’t read through it fast enough,” he says.
The Workload Automation Suite runs on Unix, Linux, or Windows servers, and deploys agents to all major operating systems, including IBM i (OS/400), mainframe, BS2000, OpenVMS, and others. The software allows users to schedule processing to occur in several ways, including by calendars, by events, by dynamic data changes, according to resource thresholds or resource availability, or when message queues, database triggers, or file arrivals occur.
Workload Automation Suite version 8.0 is available now. Pricing was not provided by the vendor. To contact UC4 for more information, go to www.uc4.com.