What is our primary use case?
We use Automic Workload Automation to schedule the batch processes for all systems within the University of Colorado. We use file transfer jobs to send or receive files with each incoming file authenticated through Automic. We code Automic jobs to update PeopleSoft run controls automatically, continuously run processes for real-time results, bounce application servers, and we notify all process failures through text and email.
How has it helped my organization?
In 2014, we saved over 9000 hours on an annualized basis when we removed the manual updating of Run Controls. Removing manual updating also improves efficiencies, productivity, and human errors.
Another example of how Automic has improved how we function is the ability to automate our abend notifications. This ability has improved our work/life balance during the weekends when we are on-call. Instead of being tasked with monitoring the system during the weekend, the abend notifications are automated to send a text to our cell phones. That enables us to go about our daily lives and only log on if something breaks. This has also enabled us to staff 24/5 instead of 24/7, saving two FTEs who would otherwise work 12-hour shifts throughout the weekend to just monitor batch.
Currently, we are in the process of rebuilding our student information system jobs in Automic. The reconstructed jobs will use Automic capabilities and coding to automatically update college terms, financial aid years, census dates, etc which will fully automate our data processing. The code uses a calendar and variable tables to update the run control values as necessary depending on the date. Fully automating term changes will eliminate 90% of our ticket load and remove the manual updating of 7000 Peoplesoft run controls per year. This will also improve our customer's end experience, they will no longer be required to submit cumbersome tickets detailing run control changes.
What is most valuable?
An important feature is the ability to modify PeopleSoft Run Controls at run-time. We run all of the batch processes for the Student Information Systems, Finance, and HCM, which use Peoplesoft in our shop. The ability to modify dates, query names, batch numbers, etc., is paramount to my team. The ability of the Automic script/coding is also a valuable asset as it provides a way for us to meet any customer's requirements, no matter what it is, we can do it with Automic scripting.
What needs improvement?
There are some scripting elements that could be added like being able to reset a task in a schedule through Automic scripting.
Also, some of the things we don't use are mainly because we don't know how to use them. Hands-on training can be expensive, so we find other ways to work around things to forgo the hands-on training. It is also an issue because we are a Linux shop and most trainers are Windows-based.
For how long have I used the solution?
More than five years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The product itself is very stable; we have not encountered stability issues with it.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
No issues with scalability.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support team is fantastic. Any ticket submitted is worked on quickly and professionally. The team is very good about following up to make sure the solution worked and, if it didn't, they will work with you until the issue is resolved. They are hands-down the most efficient support team I have come across and they are the one team that will always provide results.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We ran our Finance, HCM, and CIW processes through Unicenter. I don't believe that Unicenter was very user-friendly and they found it difficult to integrate with other applications.
We ran the Student Information System batch on the mainframe using CA7 as the batch scheduler. We switched from Unicenter to Automic and from the mainframe to Automic, mainly because Automic can integrate easily with any other application or service. When we got off of the mainframe and moved the student side to PeopleSoft, it only made sense to use Automic as the batch scheduler.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup of Automic is simple and easy. As long as it can talk to what it needs to talk to, there are no issues with the installation.
What about the implementation team?
Initial setup was with a support representative. I can't say the level of expertise because I was not there when it was first installed. I can say that since I have taken over this department, any contact with Automic support has always met or exceeded expectations and any rep has always been well skilled at most things, other than Peoplesoft.
What was our ROI?
The overall cost of Automic is minimal compared to what we can do with the product. Our return on investment far outweighs the cost each year.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Certain licenses can be a bit expensive. The PeopleSoft agents, in particular, are a bit pricey. We are using agent groups in our development environment which allows us to switch between the different Peoplesoft instances without having to change the host names in the jobs and without the need for multiple PS licenses.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I believe we looked at BMC and other CA products but chose Automic because of its ability to easily integrate with other applications and services, and because of how user-friendly it is.
What other advice do I have?
It is hands-down the best product out there. You might find others that are cheaper, you might find others that sound better and cost more, but in the end, the best automation product on the market is Automic. Save yourself some time and start with the best first. It is easy to install, easy to maintain, reliable, stable, user-friendly, and versatile. One can achieve great automation with Automic.