IT Automation & Service Management
IT Automation & Service Management

Solutions for Automating IT Job Scheduling

by Greg Shields


Every IT department is well aware of the challenges associated with trying to coordinate tasks across disparate technologies and solutions.  Customer files coming in via a Linux FTP server need to be ingested into a SQL database.  Provisioning Active Directory users requires too many manual steps across too many disparate systems.  New records in a Microsoft SQL database must trigger an action to occur in a middleware system.  Even the most configuration controlled IT organization must manage lots of little products that somehow need to interact.  Since IT technologies are rarely in the habit of communicating seamlessly with one another, the use of so many disparate technologies can create one unified (and massive) headache.  Fortunately, that headache can be alleviated with the use of automated job scheduling.

In Solutions for Automating IT Job Scheduling, author and IT expert Greg Shields presents a set of questions that will frame your need for job scheduling.  Greg delivers a set of real-world use cases for seeing scheduling in action.  He deconstructs an IT workflow, so you can peer inside to see its internal machinery.  The book concludes with a checklist of requirements you should consider when seeking a solution for job scheduling.


Chapter 1: Do I Need Job Scheduling? Ten Questions to Ask Yourself

IT job scheduling is a task that every enterprise needs, as do many small and midsize organizations. Does your business need job scheduling? In addition to exploring the basics of job scheduling, this chapter offers a list of ten good questions about your environment. The answers will help you determine whether your existing scheduling tools are meeting the challenges that an enterprise job scheduling solution can support.

Chapter 2: Seven Use Cases for Automating IT Job Scheduling

Chapter 2 provides seven use cases to help you understand the value-add of an IT job scheduling solution. These stories will help you learn how IT job scheduling works for administration as well as complex tasks that might otherwise be relegated to low-level developers. You'll discover how triggers and file manipulations are as important as database tasks and middleware actions, and learn how job scheduling creates that framework for approved execution that your auditors - and, indeed, your entire business - will truly appreciate.

Chapter 3: What Makes an IT Workflow? A Technical Deconstruction.

In many ways, workflows, jobs, and plans represent different facets of the same desire: Telling a computer what to do. You can consider them the logical representations of the "little automation packages" I referenced in the first two chapters. Although I spent much of those chapters explaining why they're good for your data center and how they'll benefit your distributed applications, I haven't yet shown you what they might look like.

That's what you'll see in this chapter. In it, you'll get an understanding of how a workflow quantifies an IT activity. You'll also walk through a set of mockups from a model IT job scheduling solution. Those mockups and the story that goes with them is intended to solidify your understanding of how an IT job scheduling solution might look once deployed.

But for now, let's stay at a high level for just a bit more. In doing so, I want to explain how workflows bring quantification to IT activities.

Chapter 4: Implementing Enterprise Job Scheduling: A Requirements Checklist

Purchasing and implementing an IT job scheduling solution nets you only an empty palette within which you can create your own automations. Filling that palette to meet the needs of your environment is the next step.

You might remember this idea as the closing thought of the previous chapter. It highlights an important realization to keep in mind as you're considering an IT job scheduling solution: Once you've selected, purchased, downloaded, and incorporated into your infrastructure an IT job scheduling solution, what do you have? With many solutions, not much. Once installed, some solutions expose what amounts to an empty framework inside which you'll add your own jobs, plans, and schedules.

An IT job scheduling solution is, at the end of the day, only what you make of it. Right out of the box, a freshly installed solution won't immediately begin automating your business systems. Creating all those "little automations" is a task that's left up to you and your imagination.

That's why finding the right IT job scheduling solution is so fundamentally critical to this process. The right solution will include the necessary integrations to plug into your data center infrastructure. The right solution comes equipped with a rich set of triggers that bring infinite flexibility in determining when jobs are initiated. And the right solution helps you accomplish those automations easily, carefully, and with all the necessary tools in place to orchestrate entire teams of individuals. Integrations, triggers, and administration—these should represent your three areas of focus in finding the solution that works for you.