We use it throughout the enterprise, company-wide.
We use it throughout the enterprise, company-wide.
Utilizing OpCon has enabled us to achieve almost 98 percent automation throughout the enterprise. We have over 15,000 jobs in OpCon.
The solution has also streamlined operations. We were utilizing six people to do our processing and sustain our environment prior to using OpCon, and now we are only utilizing one person for that. And that person, who is currently working primarily on OpCon, has been freed up to do other work, other scripting. He's also able to do additional admin work within the IT environment.
OpCon has taken employees out of day-to-day, manual operations and given them an opportunity to grow in other areas of IT. They have been dispersed throughout our IT department in various other functions and roles where we needed additional staff, including our client services PC area, our server support area, and some of the other admin work areas. They no longer have to do repeatable, menial tasks just running batch operations.
In addition, nightly processing would take about 10 hours prior to OpCon. Now that we're running on OpCon, it takes two.
We have not explored the possibility, but one of the areas for improvement would be more integration into Active Directory, to where it could do the creation of user accounts and the additional work to integrate third-party systems into payroll systems.
We've been using OpCon for almost eight years.
It is a very stable product.
So far it's been scalable in our environment. We haven't had any issues with the scalability of the product.
We have plans to increase the Self Service capability and to integrate it into additional business units. As far as some of the other environments go within our infrastructure, we do have plans to add automation to our document imaging system and any other new or auxiliary products that we purchase.
The technical support staff is knowledgeable about their product. We have had a turnaround time of less than four hours in most instances where we've had to call in for support. But the product in and of itself is very stable so we have not had a lot of technical support calls. Contacting them has been more for when we've had to implement new products or new services and we were making modifications.
We did utilize another job scheduler prior to OpCon called JFS, which was not robust enough to do everything that we needed done. That's why we opted to look at the OpCon solution as a replacement. JFS was more tedious in terms of implementation. It was not robust enough to do individual calendar scheduling, nor did it have the ability to do a lot of these single transfers or to initiate any scripting for SQL or AIX. It was very limited.
With JFS it did not take long to implement automations; a couple of hours to automate a process and to be able to add jobs to it. It's just that it was very tedious and we had to consistently manipulate the schedules to fit our needs because it did not have a calendar system like OpCon does to be able to manipulate jobs and do schedules by date.
Overall, JFS was not scalable. It didn't meet our needs. It required a lot of manual intervention. We had outgrown that product very quickly. We had been on that product less than four years before we decided that it just was not good enough to sustain our environment. Currently, our environment has over 240 servers and there was no way we could have managed that with the old schedule.
The initial setup was pretty straightforward. The SMA group came out onsite to assist with the implementation. It was done in two phases, upon our request, because we didn't have the man-hours to be able to do it all in one shot. They came out and did some initial training with us and then we asked them to come back four weeks later. Upon their return, because of the training we received, we were able to tackle a lot of the automated processes and they helped us with the more complex schedules.
The deployment itself took a couple of hours.
The implementation strategy for us was to tackle the nightly process first, and the second item was to tackle all FTPs. The third was to tackle the complex scripting for all other SQL or AIX. The last step was to do Self Service.
We reached our return on investment from the first year that we purchased the initial product, simply because of the number of man-hours saved. We were paying $200,000 in personnel costs to sustain our operations environment. We removed that from our budget as far as salary is concerned, from the operations area, because we didn't need as many personnel to run operations on once we implemented the product. We ended up adding new roles to take on new initiatives and we were able to expand our IT area into other things.
Our annual maintenance costs are $45,000. The initial cost is separate.
Initially, we purchased just the standard OpCon solution. We upgraded to the OpCon elite solution, the enterprise edition. That did include some Self Service licensing. But if we want to expand to more Self Service licenses, we will have to purchase them. We may look at that in the near future.
I don't recall which other options we looked at. We did attend an educational conference where this product was offered and we decided to explore its capabilities. Because we had a job scheduler in place prior to purchasing OpCon, we didn't weigh it against many other products. We looked at some of the features that it had and the robustness of the product and we liked the presentation that we were given, as well as the possibility for expansion. That's why we took it on as a job scheduler.
Step back and look at your enterprise and purchase enough licensing to cover all of your servers. When we first went into the product, we only purchased the minimal, standard licensing. It was just the 10 licenses. Fewer than six months after the purchase of the product, we had already used up all the licensing that we had purchased. If we had really taken a look at our overall infrastructure and seen the number of servers that we had, and taken into account the utilization of this product — because it's so robust it can be used for many things — we could have made a better decision on the purchase and gotten an enterprise version of it instead of just the standard.
I have about 15 users of the product. Three of them are operators, about five of them are in the development realm, and the rest are batch users who initiate schedules using the Self Service feature. For deployment and maintenance of OpCon we require two people. They do monthly security patching, which is normal maintenance, as well as yearly upgrades.
The biggest lesson I've learned in using OpCon is that you get your money's worth. The robustness, scalability, and expandability of the product are things that every company should invest in. OpCon is a very good product.
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