OpCon Review

Scheduling functionality enables us to optimize jobs and reduce the number of jobs

What is our primary use case?

We started using the OpCon product with a contract management application doing migration between Dollar Universe and the OpCon solution. The first time we used the OpCon product for scheduling programs we had around 7,000 jobs running on this application. Today, we have around 41,000 jobs per day. We have around 4,000 host computers in production and we have 618 applications running on the solution.

We have migrated about 90 percent of our information systems to OpCon. We have to finish the project and finalize the migration for the remaining 10 percent or less.

How has it helped my organization?

OpCon has streamlined our operations. With OpCon, we have reduced the number of jobs by about 17 percent and we have execution times running on a schedule. It's a good way for optimizing and automating the scheduling of our programs.

One of the advantages of OpCon is the ability to use the API and web services. We couldn't do that with our previous solution. We have been able to change our procedure for ticketing. When a job is down, we can immediately create a ticket from OpCon in our ticketing solution, which is ServiceNow, using the web services.

What is most valuable?

One of the valuable features is that we are able to automatically manage problems with jobs. The system automatically tries to restart jobs when things go down. That's a good way for us to quickly manage and resolve all problems automatically, without creating tickets.

It is really different than the product we used before, Dollar Universe. The interface of OpCon is really modern and fluid and simple to use. It's really a framework for the user who doesn't see all the complexity behind the product. We have a lot of functionality with the product that we didn't have before. All our users find it simple to use and, after working with it a few times, it does not take them long to know how to use it. We've had no difficulties using the product.

And the web solution, Solution Manager, enables easy access to the application to quickly see if we have problems with our programs. Immediately, with its color code, we know if all is okay or if we have a problem. The web interface is really simple to use and we can put it on a screen on our desks and look. It's really useful for us. When we click on the screen we can immediately see which job is the problem that we have to analyze or restart. It's really easy to identify that and to restart or go quickly to the problem, without having to find or analyze where the problem is. It's efficient for us.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see them improve the Solution Manager for the web application. It's the future for us. Our customers need a lot of functionality, but there isn't that functionality within Solution Manager. So they have to develop and improve it.

The visualization module needs to be more open for parameters, such as the color of the job status information. For example, when a job is canceled, the color on the visualization module appears as orange and we can't change that color with a parameter. We can't decide, for example, to display the jobs that were canceled in green. I'm expecting from SMA that they will create parameters and give us the opportunity to choose the colors we want for job statuses.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using it for two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We didn't have any problems for the first few weeks. When we got to a big volume of jobs, we started to have some response delay. We called SMA's French support and U.S. support to analyze our problem. SMA's solution was that there was a difficulty with the large history. We hadn't deleted and had too many days in history. We had to purge some history and close some days. Today, we do that regularly and it's okay for us now. We have a good response time from the product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Whenever we upgrade the solution we have support to help us, and we have never had great difficulty in upgrading the system. It is not a difficulty for us today. 

We have not hit the limits of the product. We have a lot of new projects starting on OpCon to develop new scheduling programs. We don't use OpCon for only part of our information system. We use OpCon for our entire information system. OpCon is used for all our scheduling jobs.

How are customer service and technical support?

A really big change for us was that SMA has French support in Europe. That's a big advantage for us because we are not all fluent in English. And they are open night and day. Whenever we call, we always get support. Support is really good.

One of the good things we have found with SMA is that we have a partnership. They really help us and we are working with them. We really want to optimize the product and give them suggestions for new functionality that we need. We help them to develop it and to optimize the product. They work interactively with us and are quick to develop the functionality for developing our business.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used Dollar Universe.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is really easy. Installing the product is not really difficult.

For all our infrastructure development, integration, pre-production, production, training — for the whole environment — it took about six months, including specifying all the parameters and starting the product, doing the pilot migration, testing the application after migration, and moving it to production. The first migration started immediately after we finished configuring the product.

What about the implementation team?

We had a contract with SMA for support and to help us do the first migration of the pilot application, which was contract management. After we finished configuring the product's parameters, testing the product, and doing the migration on this pilot application, we managed the migrations alone, with SMA's support if we had difficulties doing something or needed help to optimize the product.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI. In the first year, we paid less than the previous solution and, with OpCon, we have reduced the number of incidents and we have an improved quality of service for our customers.

There is also less cost for our teams to analyze and deal with program scheduling. We haven't needed more people to explore the solution. We can have fewer people and do other things. We can invest in projects and not just in running activities.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It costs less than our previous solution, Dollar Universe. We pay annual maintenance but we don't pay anything additional until we hit a certain number of jobs per day.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

In 2016 we started to analyze different solutions in the marketplace. We had meetings with vendors of a lot of solutions, with demonstrations, and we evaluated every product. At the end of the analysis, we chose three solutions. We then met with customers using those solutions. Only then did we choose the SMA solution. It's a more complete solution for us and more open and scalable for our needs.

We evaluated the IBM solution, the Automic solution, a French product, and so on. There were other solutions too, but those were the main solutions we analyzed.

What other advice do I have?

Start with a lot of training and develop a good familiarity with the functionality of the product. Do that before starting development on OpCon. Normalize the codification of the schedule of the jobs. Write that clearly and define the rules to develop the objects before starting with OpCon. That is very important because if you start to develop immediately in the product, without doing that phase of analysis and normalization of the codes, you will have difficulties.

We have a team of about 10 people whose job it is to create the scheduling programs. And we have another five external people to reinforce that team. For everyday exportation of the project and all our schedules, we have about 16 people. They schedule jobs and analyze issues or responses from our clients for building jobs.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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