Tidal Automation Review

Consolidates our administration and reporting feeding it straight into ServiceNow, though I would like more reporting analytics out-of-the-box

What is our primary use case?

We use it for a host of standard/general stuff, like batch workflow automation, in the front and back offices. We have also centralized all of our SQL Server maintenance that is running on it. Instead of having SQL Server maintenance plans or jobs running on 300 or 400 disparate servers, we run them through Tidal so we have consolidated administration and reporting that feeds straight into ServiceNow.

Last year, we made a step change with our DR recovery process. We had a bunch of people running manual scripts and different things where you have networks: Wintel, DBAs, or application support teams. They were running their own separate scripts to do application failover. This is different when it's active-active or active-passive replication. What we did was integrate it with different command line driven jobs, like PowerShell commands, to effectively failover applications and infrastructure into a sequenced set of dependant jobs. Therefore, if we need DR, we were not relying on a mix of SMEs saying, "Where was that script or how do we fail this over?" Instead we can just push a button and the thing fails over, which is beautiful. 

Additionally we do compliance reporting from within Tidal and like many people we are regulated from PWC. Everyone has the technology control frameworks that they have to evidence. Instead of people taking screenshots, we will effectively find out what information PWC need and build the job using CLI which runs on either month or quarter end. The job will go off, collect that evidence, come back, and be formatted. Then, we just drop it in SharePoint or use Tidal to save it to a file share, sending an email off to say, "Your evidence is collected. You need to review it, then sent it onto audit."

We use it for a vast array of housekeeping jobs. It is not that Tidal is a monitoring tool, but automation is basically as far as your imagination can take you with anything that runs by a command line, which is virtually anything you can do. 

We previously had a use case for it to give us a quick alert for when some of our infrastructure became unavailable. We just had it running every minute. Typically, it's not an enterprise monitoring tool, but if you have some deficiencies or things that you need to enhance, or give a different sort of dimension to, we've used it for that in the past. We also run it against our infrastructure using PowerShell to pull a whole host of reporting from our infrastructure daily, which is useful.

We use Tidal to run SQL Server and Windows. There is not really any Unix.

Since we start using it, they do more stuff in AWS. They now have a whole bunch of different cloud capabilities. We are moving towards private cloud. We're in the sandbox at the moment.

How has it helped my organization?

The product helps our company in the way that we've engineered it using bespoke jobs that we've written in a clever way. There's nothing directly at the moment. That might change as we move into the cloud, depending on which cloud we go with or on the adapters that they use, e.g., if they have native S3 adapters or events that can fire Lambda functions, which are a bit more interesting to us.

What is most valuable?

There are many valuable features. I would struggle to say that there is one more useful than another. Job Events and its email capabilities are good. 

We have integrated Tidal with other automation platforms. You can integrate legacy platforms, as the integration is easy. Overall, we have good impressions of its ability to manage and monitor workloads.

What needs improvement?

They have a bit of work to do on the ServiceNow Adapter. At the moment with 6.2.1, we can send an SNMP Trap to ServiceNow in order to create an incident fail. However, there is so much scope for a CLA API interface between the Adapter and the stuff that you can do with it. I would have other use cases for different things within ServiceNow potentially if that was the case.

The reporting is kind of lacking and not super awesome. They have a product where the administrative overhead isn't that straightforward. Maybe, we're using it wrong.

The ability to express jobs as code is something I wanted for years now, especially as we move into the DevOps space. We have been doing one-touch deploys in terms of our CI/CD pipeline for a while and we have releases and code deployments that go through environments with a single tool for deploying. Therefore, SQL code, SSIS packages, and registry entries can install something all at once. Tidal can't do this for jobs, because they use a Transporter mechanism, which baffles me because the product is a SQL Server on the back-end. We would like it for a developer to be able to push a button saying "Script", which exports a script for the injection from one environment to another. This is what it needs instead of a clunky Transporter tool to take it from one environment to another. If they could just rip out the code that they were going to insert into the next phase, then we can express those jobs as code and dive into our consolidated release process. For me, in the DevOps space, expressing jobs as code would be the way to go.

The solution’s current drill-down functionality is alright because the Client Manager is an actual database. With the next version 6.5.3, they put that into a memory database. Therefore, you have no real ability to go through and have a look at it. I think there's a gap there.

For how long have I used the solution?

10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has been super stable. There are no complaints on stability. We would not be using it if Tidal wasn't stable. You can't have an automation system that is unstable because it is too critical. If it's fallen over, everything is delayed in the morning. The business impact will be significant, because potentially your front office can't trade. If your automation platform doesn't work, you're in bad shape.

Two people are required maintenance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have had no scalability complaints. It is all pretty straightforward.

We're looking at rolling this out a bit more globally. We have some people in India, North America, and elsewhere. The rate that the skills get picked up can depend on the region, but it also depends on the skill sets that you already have. If you already have some knowledge of an automation tool or orchestration tools, then it's quite intuitive. However, if you have somebody who has never seen it before with no knowledge on the information system, then it might take them a bit longer.

We have about 100 DBAs, testers, business analysts, and automation developers using it. At one point, we had nine live environments.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have been through many different iterations of the company. They used to be owned by Cisco, then Tidal was moved to somebody else. Now, it's with STA Group who seems very responsive and customer-driven, which is nice. They are making efforts to listen to their customers and see what they want, which is great. It's still in the early days to see how reactive they are in terms of development.

I've never called the technical support. My guys are the ones who have to speak to the tech support. I've not had any complaints.

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

We went from AutoSys (formerly CA) to Tidal. We switched because of CA's expensive licensing. They were also behind the curve.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is fairly straightforward. There are a few nuances or a couple of bugs, but as soon as you report them, they are fixed as STA Group is fairly reactive.

We are in the process of an upgrade, but we have a whole lot of other work going on and are not under any pressure to get it done. We just took our time with it. Therefore, it's not like we're doing just this upgrade. Though, you could install an instance in a couple of days.

What about the implementation team?

The amount of people involved in an upgrade or deployment depends on how your infrastructure stands up. If you have a small IT department and you have one guy who administers Tidal, builds the servers, does the installations, and has nothing else to work on, then it is pretty quick. If you work in a larger organization where you have teams working in silos where everyone is maxed out with BAU and projects, then you may have to wait three weeks for your servers and a bunch of other stuff. It depends on how siloed your infrastructure setup is. Once you have the servers, then you can install the thing with probably two or three guys. Though, it depends on how complex your setup is. E.g., if you're doing HA between different regions in AWS, then you will need more people from information security along with network specialists. 

What was our ROI?

If you can automate things that people are doing, you will save time and resources because people can be doing more value-add work than manual stuff. Broadly speaking, if you start automating all of your clients' compliance evidence and collecting, it becomes standard, then the people who are doing that can do something more useful. If you extrapolate that, then that is time well spent and saved.

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

I have had no issues with the licensing.

The solution enables admins and users to see the information relevant to them, but this is bundled as an add-on that we would have to pay for. I am attending a webinar on this feature next week. It remains to be seen how much it costs and what the value is. It's touted as giving you all the analytics that you want. We have had it 10 years and got by without this feature. Instead, we have DBAs who can write queries to pull out whatever we need from our SQL database. There are ways around everything, as there are a million ways to do stuff.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We have evaluated other solutions. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate the product as a seven (out of 10). I love the product. It's pretty good. There are more reporting analytics that I would like to do and see out-of-the-box. I would also like to not have to pay for it. Our implementation has been super stable, and it really kind of ticks all of the boxes.

The Adapters that they provided are quite good. We have SQL, Oracle, and other ones that we have used in the past. I'm looking forward to using two or three adapters and being able to do harsh cloud native capabilities with Lambda. These are particularly interesting as we go into the cloud space. I haven't used them yet.

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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