What is our primary use case?
We have it running batch processing across our mainframe and Windows Server environments. OpCon also integrates with a third-party SFTP tool and through that we have OpCon driving all of our file transfers as well.
We've automated hundreds of processes with OpCon, representing a good 80 percent of our processing.
How has it helped my organization?
One thing that we had to introduce about three years ago in our bank was exchanging high volume monetary files with other banks on a mission critical hourly basis. We would start doing the exchange at about 9.30 a.m. every day and it would go through until 2 a.m. the following morning. It was very time-driven. Our customers were heavily reliant on it because it was money that was coming to fund their accounts. OpCon allowed us to fully automate the process, right down to when it went wrong for any reason, it would alert us. Rather than having to employ three staff members to manage the process over the period, it just runs. It tells us what has gone wrong. Every day, every hour, we do two full exchanges and they just happen.
Another thing we've been able to do with OpCon is to give our business users a level of self-service and automation for themselves. We don't have to be here to do things for them. OpCon will just do them for them. OpCon has absolutely streamlined our operations. We went from getting requests to do something and the end-user waiting for however long it took us to get around to doing it, to their being able to do it for themselves.
We actually got rid of our third shift with one of the operators going off to work in another part of our IT division. Now, the third shift effectively goes on unmanned. We allow OpCon to run things for us.
In addition, with the automation, the solution has definitely sped things up enormously. There's less human interaction that has to go on now.
We just wouldn't be without OpCon.
What is most valuable?
The most valuable features are the
Since we got it configured, it has just done the job day in, day out. Being able to rely on it and know that it's going to happen, whether there's a person over it or not, is really good.
The ease of use and simplicity in automating processes are good. They get better every time they put out a new release. When we first got it, a long time ago, it wasn't as intuitive as it is now. That also comes, a little bit, with our having used it for so many years, so we're more used to it. But I have a guy who started working with me about three years ago, for example. He had never touched anything like this but he was able to pick it up and run with it. And he absolutely raves about it. He thinks it's the best product he's ever worked on - this from a person with many years of IT experience.
What needs improvement?
I might like to see a little bit more of a seamless user interface. That would be good. They're moving towards a browser-type interface, rather than the Java application that we currently use. Also, a little bit more built-in self-service would be good, rather than a standalone product.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using OpCon for around 15 years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
The stability gets better all the time. Where we've had problems with stability, it's been partly our fault. We run it on a VMware server but we haven't recognized that the workload has increased and haven't increased the capacity of the server it's running on. It's because of things like that that OpCon has had the odd issue. But in general, the product in and of itself is pretty reliable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It's absolutely scalable. It will just take whatever you throw at it. As long as you make sure that the hardware it's running it on will cope, it seems like it has endless possibilities.
It does all of our batch processing. Absolutely everything is run under OpCon. As we add more processes, it's a no-brainer; we put them into OpCon. We only use it for our ClearPath mainframes and Windows Servers. If we were to move to another operating system, we would definitely take OpCon with us. It has that flexibility to run on different platforms as well.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support is really good.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
I brought OpCon into the company. Prior to that everything was done manually by people.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We were a very small IT shop when I first came here and OpCon was one of the first SQL databases that we had that had any great importance in our world. We had local New Zealand support to help us. They were really good. We were a little bit wary of jumping in and using it, and they really helped us to step into the product with small steps to start off with. That allowed us to gain a comfort level. It was a good implementation.
We were a little bit shy and timid about automating things. We started out playing with it quite a bit. It took us a while from the time we deployed it until we automated our first process, and that was because I decided to approach it by rewriting a lot of the code that we ran, to make the best use of OpCon. We used to have one great big job that ran everything, and I really wanted to break it down and use OpCon to bring everything to the surface, rather than it being all hidden in one big job. My wanting to do that made it take longer; it was a few months to really get something going "in anger."
The game plan was to try and take away as much of the manual processing as we could. There was a lot of checking that was done every single day.
What was our ROI?
The fact that we were able to eliminate a staff member entirely from the area and move him to another area has definitely paid dividends in terms of what we pay for OpCon today.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
I have worked in an IBM environment, so I've worked with Control-M and the old CA 7. OpCon was the only option that was available, at the time, for a ClearPath mainframe. But it's been a good option.
What other advice do I have?
The biggest lesson I have learned from using OpCon is: Don't try to do things manually. It's a really good automation tool. Really, really good.
Go for it. If your aim is to gain reliability and automation, and making sure that when you want things done they'll get done, then OpCon is a really good tool.
One of the very good things about SMA as a company is that they actively seek input from us as customers. Where it makes sense, they take our suggestions and they develop them and they implement them. There are a couple of features in OpCon I'm aware of which have come from a number of customers here in New Zealand, including myself. They listen and they improve where it's appropriate. There's nothing significant in the product that needs improvement. It's a really good product.
There are four of us who look after the production environment, and we have about 10 or 11 people who are using it in development work, running their processing. There are two of us who do maintenance of the solution. The only reason there are two of us is that people go on holiday. It really is easy to maintain.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?
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