What is most valuable?
In our use, I really enjoy things being in one spot. It's extremely easy to use. It's easy to set up. It's easy to upgrade.
Most of the time, it's easy to teach people how to use it. My developers a lot of the times get in there really quickly and they're all able to make an impact quickly.
How has it helped my organization?
There are a lot of benefits. Automating things is the future. You get to be efficient.
I'm in retail, so a lot of times, we do a lot of different jobs. You have one person doing what three people normally do. The only way you can really function is if you automate things.
It's beautiful because I can schedule things in a hundred different ways. There's generally always a solution to things with some sort of scheduling.
What needs improvement?
There has been preaching about cross-application critical pathing. It's extremely difficult for us to tell what is impacting what other items. I would absolutely love to be able to click one job and see all of its dependencies, regardless of which application that it's in, through externals. I've had a hard time getting traction on that. It was supposed to be in the most recent release, but got pulled in favor, I believe, of the web GUI. I would absolutely love to see cross-application critical pathing.
There are a couple things that they could do to make my life a little easier. Analytics seems to be a problem, so a couple of stars deducted for that, but it's probably one of the easiest tools that I manage.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It's pretty stable. In the eight years I've been doing this, I've had three major outages. One of them was self-inflicted. One of them, I'm not really sure what happened. The other one was, the database ran out of resources.
We're expected be up all the time, 24/7/365. I'm always available. Really the only time I've had outages were some sort of hardware failure. The product itself has always been very, very stable, and extremely easy to upgrade. We've been able to keep it up-to-date and make sure that we're able to take care of it.
One specific thing is, we've all moved to Oracle Exadata. I am probably one of the few systems that handles all of the database node rolling really, really well. It freezes for a couple of seconds, and then it comes right back. Every time they're like, "We're doing maintenance. We have to shut down nodes." I'm like, "That's fine; we're good. You don't even have to tell me about it. It will take care of it."
The system is very, very stable and reliable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability just depends; it depends on how much you want to spend.
The beauty of some of the product is that they license by agent. Our ETL agent runs thousands of jobs on one server, so we don't have to pay per job. Generally, when they need to put in a hundred new ETL jobs, it's no big deal. We put it in, it runs, everything runs well and does what it's supposed to do.
How is customer service and technical support?
Generally, with first-level support, I tend to know more than they do, so it's a little bit painful. We've had some challenges with it.
At this point, when I have major problems, I've just started calling my product managers to get help with it. I guess a positive is that I don't have to call technical support very often because it's stable and it works.
How was the initial setup?
I was not involved with the original setup.
I have done an entire migration and upgrade of the newer one. We started out with 11.1. That was already in place when I joined the team.
The 11.3 upgrades and everything after that, I have done. I have to say, it is probably one of the easiest tools that I have to upgrade, especially once they moved to 12.0 and they started doing in-place upgrades.
The last time when we did the migration, we got our Linux Gold Standard. This time around, all I had to do was push a couple buttons and my entire outage was 24 minutes.
What other advice do I have?
Do your homework. Talk to other workload automation people. Get their feel for it and find out what has worked for them and hasn't worked for them.
I had to learn things the hard way. I now have this amazing network of workload automation people. They're engaged and they want to help you. Talk to them and make everything a little bit easier on yourself.