ActiveBatch deftly juggles Windows jobs
Complex yet sophisticated, ActiveBatch empowers admins to easily manage and automate jobs
I've seen many shops with hundreds of OS-level jobs to manage — file copies, system reboots, defrags, FTP jobs, and so forth — and the admins there all have done the same thing: They go from server to server to check on job success, or to troubleshoot a dependent job that failed, and then manually walk through the entire process again if a dependent job has failed, because all the subsequent jobs failed. This is no longer necessary with ActiveBatch.
ActiveBatch 5.0, from ASCI (Advanced Systems Concepts Incorporated), is the ETL (extract, transform, and load) tool of the operating-system world. It can run scheduled OS jobs from any server in your environment and can add workflow, notification, error handling, and centralized management.
Upon job failure, ActiveBatch can prevent subsequent jobs from even firing, and when any job fails, the solution can trigger a number of actions, complete with workflow, to correct known problems and restart the process from any point. The solution also can alert an admin not only if a job fails, but if it’s taking longer than usual or taking up too many resources.
Installing ActiveBatch is very easy. You just have to have a server and a database picked out. After installation, there is a bit of a learning curve to get past, as it’s a very intricate program with a lot of nuances to learn.
I have experience with Version 4.0 of ActiveBatch, and I found that ASCI has made such significant improvements to Version 5.0 that even I had to learn a few basics before I could really do much with it. After you’ve nailed a few basic concepts, you can get up and running fairly quickly. Yet, even after you’ve worked with it for several months, you’ll continue to discover new things about it.
I tested several types of jobs with varying workflows. One of my favorites is the event-based execution of jobs, jobs set to run based on a certain type of event, such as a WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation) event, or, more commonly, the presence of a file in a directory.
It really pays to think outside the box and come up with your own implementations of this functionality. It can be used in a number of creative ways, such as for monitoring, diagnosing, and fixing system problems.
For example, you could easily set up ActiveBatch with a job that checks certain system performance counters and takes appropriate actions based on the results. It can even e-mail your ticketing system to open a help desk ticket if it’s unable to resolve the issue. This is very similar to the scenario I tested, and ActiveBatch performed flawlessly.
I also set up a scenario that had ActiveBatch copying and deleting files between servers, e-mailing results, and performing certain actions when a step on the workflow failed. I set this test to run against three servers at intervals of two minutes for slightly more than a month. ActiveBatch never skipped a beat. It was solid, fast, and very easy to monitor and manage.
Really nice views
ActiveBatch provides many different views of your enterprise jobs. The System View is the most useful for operations staff, as it allows them to see the current status and immediate result of every job in the queue. The icons in the System View show job dependencies and workflow, and are color-coded based on the current run status and the last execution result.