HelpSystems Launches Mobile Initiatives, Acquires NAI for Workflow Automation
April 22, 2014 Alex Woodie
HelpSystems last week debuted Robot/NETWORK Web UI, the first of what is expected to be many mobile interfaces for its extensive IBM i product suite. The company also announced the acquisition of Network Automation Inc. (NAI), which develops the AutoMate line of workflow mapping and automation software.
While it has been possible to access HelpSystems’ Web-based product screens from a smartphone or a tablet, the company hasn’t had a mobile strategy per se. That is changing with the launch of Robot/NETWORK Web UI, a new offering that allows users to see IBM i server performance information from the comfort of their iOS or Android device, or any other device with a Web browser.
The fact that HelpSystems chose to start its mobile enablement strategy with Robot/NETWORK is no coincidence because the product plays a very important role in the Robot scheme of things. In fact, the product has two key roles. First, it provides centralized performance monitoring and exception-based management for multiple IBM i LPARs or servers. Secondly, it serves as the digital “glue” that unites other products in the Robot family, including Robot/SCHEDULE, Robot/SAVE, and many others. Large HelpSystems customers with multiple IBM i servers and locations invariably end up using Robot/NETWORK to make everything work.
With the new Web mobile interface loaded on a tablet or a smartphone, an IBM i administrator can monitor the status of his entire IBM i network, the company says. This includes the capability to acknowledge issues sent from any node system and escalate and assign them to the expert. Notification options can also be combined to escalate issues, which can be triggered in succession or sent at the same time, the company says. You can also distribute automation instructions to a subset of your partitions or systems, it adds.
In its announcement, the company says the “mobile enablement initiative for the Robot product line begins with customizable, browser-based dashboards for the Robot/NETWORK performance management software.”
“We’re pleased to be taking Robot in this direction,” says Jody Dahl, the software development manager for HelpSystems, which recently dropped the slash from its name. “Mobile enablement provides a more manageable footprint and rolling out updates to users on the Web server is easy. Robot customers can soon look forward to accessing their Robot/SCHEDULE information from their mobile devices as well.”
We’ll also be waiting to see how HelpSystems positions the acquisition of NAI to its largely IBM i installed base. NAI is a 10-year-old company based in Los Angeles, California, that has won several awards for AutoMate, its Windows-based workflow automation software.
On the NAI website, the company says the product “transforms and combines on-premise servers [virtual and physical], cloud resources, and end-point devices into highly automated and integrated business processing engines, orchestrated and managed in dynamic, graphical workflows.” That includes “legacy” IBM i and mainframe applications, the company says.
HelpSystems says the AutoMate product will help its existing customers by providing “an intuitive drag-and-drop interface for non-programmers to manage cohesive, executable workflows across disparate applications and technologies.”
There could be some integration between AutoMate and the flagship Robot/SCHEDULE job scheduler, hinted HelpSystems CEO Janet Dryer. “AutoMate’s unique blend of intelligent technology, application integration, and ease of use helps us move our job scheduling offerings into the business process automation space,” Dryer says in a press release. “In turn, we plan to invest in the enhancement of AutoMate’s functionality and integration with current HelpSystems products.”
NAI, which had 8,000 clients in 60 countries, was HelpSystems’ first acquisition since it bought the ShowCase business intelligence products from IBM a year ago. Other acquisitions include Dartware, SafeStone, CCSS, PowerTech, Bytware, and SEQUEL Software. It has also launched the Skybot brand for open systems management tools. For more info see www.helpsystems.com.