Enterprise Job Scheduling and workload automation are often used interchangeably. In fact, the different names used for this software class represent a development in digitalisation, which we would like to explain here in more detail.
Enterprise Job Scheduling systems were created in the era of monolithic mainframe computers and worked (and in some cases still work today) with a fixed schedule. Administrators must therefore obtain a free time slot when they want to start recurring IT or business processes, such as backup or billing routines, automatically and without any active intervention on the central computer.
Enterprise Job Scheduling over the course of time
Since in this scenario the process flow is clearly defined and all the processes run within a defined instance, the biggest challenge for this type of job and batch scheduling is to make the schedule as efficient as possible for optimum utilisation of the system. However, this form of job scheduling has distinct weaknesses: The schedule has to be revised or recalculated following every unforeseen event (malfunction, downtimes, on-demand jobs, etc.).
In the 1990s, distributed computing platforms placed ever greater demands on job scheduling systems. Now, processes and threads had to be coordinated across multiple physical machines. This meant that different operating systems had to work together, dependencies were created that needed to be taken into account, and the loads had to be spread across several servers. And all this had to take place as efficiently and timely as possible. The US market research institute Gartner describes job scheduling tools as follows:
“Job scheduling tools supervise a logical process (several jobs or programs) as they execute in a mainframe or distributed environment, providing scheduling and dependency management of the process as it runs, mainly in sequence, across disparate systems, geographies and applications. The tools in this category are used for “batch integration” of heterogeneous applications and data stores.” (https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/job-scheduling)
Enterprise Job Scheduling should be more than a time control tool
However, the focus was still on time-based controlling and less on dynamic and event-based execution. Yet a large number of such events is typical in complex and highly dynamic systems such as data warehouse and business intelligence environments. Traditional job scheduling systems were not able to ideally achieve the required goals in such an environment.
In order to meet the complex requirements of large data warehouse systems, and since a satisfactory solution was not yet available on the market, BICsuite was conceived and developed as a scheduling platform in 2001. Right from the design phase, it became evident that a traditional interpretation of Enterprise Job Scheduling could not meet the demanding requirements of modern IT operations. This resulted in a system that back then was already far ahead of its time. Before the development work began, many different problem scenarios drawn from practical experience gained on large-scale projects were analysed and broken down to their conceptual core. This process resulted in a manageable number of simple, easily understandable concepts by means of which all the functional requirements required for automating IT processes can be fulfilled within one platform. Systems with these characteristics are now also referred to as Workload Automation Solutions (WLA) or Service Orchestration and Automation Platforms (SOAP).