Robot/SCHEDULE Learns More Tricks From MFT
July 28, 2014 Alex Woodie
The leading independent IBM i job scheduler is getting smarter with this month’s release of Robot/SCHEDULE version 12 from HelpSystems. The new file event monitoring features added in v12 allow the job scheduler to react to file and directory events occurring on the IFS and physical file changes on the DB2 database, just like managed file transfer (MFT) products can do.
Ensuring the smooth and orderly execution of jobs is not an easy thing to do, especially in larger organizations running dozens of applications across one or more IBM i servers. When the inter-dependencies of jobs, tasks, and processes gets too complicated to map out on the back of a napkin, IT managers often turn to a job scheduler to make things run on time.
For years, Robot/SCHEDULE has offered users the option of using either traditional time-based scheduling or event-driven scheduling, which has typically been driven through the company’s Operator Assistance Language (OPAL).
The new event monitors added with Robot/SCHEDULE version 12 give users more options for utilizing event-driven scheduling. According to the vendor, the monitors can be set to watch the IFS for the creation and deletion of files, and to watch for changes in sizes of certain files. The new monitors also look for any changes occurring with native physical file members in DB2 for i.
Previously, with OPAL driving things, the product could monitor the number of records in a library file and kick off jobs in reaction to changes in the number of records. But now users have much more fine-grained file monitoring capabilities to base event-based scheduling on, and they gain coverage for the IFS, too.
The new event-based scheduling features will make job scheduling more fluid and flexible, the HelpSystems says. For example, instead of waiting for weekly sales data to arrive in a particular folder before kicking off a batch reporting job, the operator can simply tell Robot/SCHEDULE to automatically start the reporting job after the file arrives.
The new event-based monitors work in much the same way that various MFT products work. Many organizations that have been deluged with files are turning to MFT products to help automate file-related processes. Many MFT products can also trigger jobs based on file movement activity, and in the process have become poor man’s job schedulers.
Robot/SCHEDULE has been under pressure from MFT products for several years. In 2010, HelpSystems responded by adding FTP and FTPS support to Robot/SCHEDULE, which enabled its customers to move toward more event-driven processing without requiring programming in OPAL. The feature was supported in the scripts that are executed by the Java agents that live on IBM i servers (for Robot/SCHEDULE) and Unix, Linux, and Windows servers (for Robot/SCHEDULE Enterprise).
With Robot/SCHEDULE 12, event-based scheduling can be configured from the product’s Windows GUI, which has also been updated with the latest Microsoft icons and fonts. The new event-based scheduling features can only be controlled from the Windows UI.
The new Windows look and feel is “great for those of us with aging eyes,” says HelpSystems software development manager Jody Dahl jokingly. “Really, we hope the refresh will encourage users to make the switch to GUI and take advantage of the product’s most robust scheduling options.”
Robot/SCHEDULE has been the flagship product for HelpSystems for years, with thousands of deployments under its utility belt. Today, it is still one of the most widely used (if not the most popular) product at Robot, the name of the new HelpSystems subsidiary set up to sell and support the Robot suite of products.