IBM Workload Automation Review

It has two CLIs to help manage items in the active plan & database. This is useful for custom scripts automating certain tasks.

Valuable Features

TWS has two command line interfaces to help manage items in the active plan and database. This allows you to create custom scripts to make mass updates to job definitions in the plan\database. You can even schedule these custom scripts to make the updates at a later time (e.g., holding a set of jobs prior to a planned outage and releasing after). It also has an event processor that lets you define custom rules based on certain events (e.g., when a job fails, when a job hasn’t finished within a certain time or within 30 minutes of its predecessor, when a file is available, when a job is stuck, etc.).

Improvements to My Organization

Aside from basic scheduling features and Windows/Unix job types, this product gives us a lot of options to integrate with other systems:

  • Custom plug-ins (SAP, DataStage, PeopleSoft, Cognos)
  • Database & integration job types (Oracle, MS SQL, Web Services, J2EE)
  • File transfer and remote command job types

It is a great way to centralize your enterprise workload to provide better visibility to support groups and better cohesion between applications. Mobile app features are also available to empower users to monitor\manage their workload on the go.

Room for Improvement

The web UI is a bit cumbersome in terms of navigation, although it seems some improvements were made on the most recent release, v9.3. Also, scheduling is driven based off of a Symphony file, which is a flat file that outlines scheduled work for the day and its progress. This file is prone to corruption during networking/hardware issues. TWS also has a daily refresh process that refreshes the Symphony file each day. Any permanent changes to the TWS network are dependent on this process.

Time zone management can also use some improvements. We have to schedule creatively to account for the hard-coded plan start/end times with other time zones. Ideally, it would be a seamless effort.

Use of Solution

I have used it for four years.

Stability Issues

None; overall the product is very stable, but can give you odd results if the environment is unstable (hardware\network issues). Once the environment issues are resolved and job scheduling has resumed, you might still experience strange behavior with dependency resolution and cyclic job functionality, which typically clears up with the next daily refresh.

Scalability Issues

None; we’ve had no issues with scalability other than time zone management, which requires some creative scheduling scenarios to account for the hard-coded plan start/end time and time differences between master server and remote agents.

Customer Service and Technical Support

7/10; technical support is virtually impossible to get via direct phone call. You have to rely on trouble tickets and wait for a return phone call, which can take several hours depending on what time of day you are calling. You will need to keep constant follow-up on your ticket, as well, because it can slip through the cracks and go unnoticed for days. However, once engaged, especially on a conference call, the team is knowledgeable, courteous and very helpful.

Initial Setup

Initial setup was somewhat complex, although it might be because we installed on Linux. Windows might have been a bit easier using the installation wizards.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

It can get costly, as expected; IBM uses a Processor Value Unit (PVU) licensing model, which can be cumbersome to maintain.

Other Solutions Considered

I’ve used BMC Control-M in the past, at another company.

Other Advice

This product is a great product overall, but can behave strangely if any environmental issues occur (hardware/network). A lot of the issues we face, however, are supposed to be resolved with the later version. I’ve seen some demos of the latest release and it seems like large improvements have been made in terms of functionality and user experience.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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