WHY AM I TALKING ABOUT THIS?
I work for a company X that has had it’s share of issues with our current software TIDAL. We joked around internally about switching to another Enterprise Scheduler but the thought of the tasks involved in switching such important part of our everyday business was daunting at best. Eventually things got bad enough with CISCO’s TIDAL product that we were left with an unsupported older version or had to switch to the newest version that CISCO’s own techs seemed to have trouble to get working in our environment.
Company X has around 8,000 jobs. Most of the said jobs run on daily or weekly schedules either executing console apps, scripts or FTPing files around. Company X was on version 5.3.1 of TIDAL (TIDAL was its own product until it was purchased by CISCO). At some point CISCO rewrote the TIDAL code base to bring it up to today’s technology. Unfortunately for us, the upgrade from the old ‘thick’ client to the new ‘thin’ client did not go well. The environment was unstable and seemed to have trouble keeping up with development environment. We tried many revisions of the new 6.2 version of TIDAL but none seemed to pass our baseline testing.
Company X is a good size company. TIDAL (current Enterprise Scheduler) is mostly controlled by non developers (operators). Operators develop majority of jobs and control their executions. Jobs execute scripts and programs made by developers.
Company X has a TIDAL standards group, which reviewed all jobs that get created in development prior to them being moved to production to make sure they follow the standards set by the group. This creates a cohesive jobs environment.
Standards are published on an internal SharePoint site for all to see.
CISCO’s REACTION TO OUR TROUBLES
CISCO does have a great customer service in general. However, they were not able to help us out. They asked us to double our ram and CPUs, then quadruple it, then quadruple both again… at some point we found that the resources required by the new version were going to cost us nearly $100k in upgrades compared to the current version we were running. CISCO tried to work with company X to figure out other optimization solutions but unfortunately none were found.
THE SEARCH FOR A NEW ENTERPRISE SCHEDULER
In our search we checked out products from several vendors:
- TIDAL 6.X (the original upgrade path)
- We tested this version as long as we could, all the different variations, service packs, etc
- At some point we did start seeing slight improvements, but the amount of hardware thrown at the problem was proving to be too much with no absolute resolution in sight.
- BMC Control-M
- This was the smoothest and most feature rich product. Everyone involved in the search for the new Enterprise Scheduler loved what this software had to offer. However, company X found itself hard pressed to spend the kind of money required for BMC Control-M. This is equivalent of a Lamborghini of Enterprise Schedulers. Company X is more in the market for a Honda or a Toyota of Enterprise Schedulers so the search goes on.
- JAMS had a very technical feel to it. It is geared towards developers. Programmers at company X were leaning towards JAMS while operators and other non-developer personnel preferred we did not take this JAMS route. JAMS is a very extensible scheduling software. Nearly all functions can be performed from the command line. Their GUI left much to be desired, but you would not be buying JAMS for their GUI – you would be buying JAMS because you can make it do anything you need from your own GUI built the way you like it! I mean, what is it they say about wanting things done right…?
- JAMS had some notable customers (big names) However, they used JAMS differently than company X uses TIDAL. Company X was not willing to have developer’s time be dedicated to writing a new GUI.
- One thing that put me off about JAMS is that they were fairly dismissive of our request for a demo. After the first webex demo, the salesperson tried to use the negative pitch by saying that we’d probably never switch as it’s easier to just stay with one product. Didn’t much care for that attitude.
- Cost was a little less than TIDAL licensing.
- ACTIVE BATCH
- We’ve seen Active Batch at several trade shows and talked to reps on few occasions. When things started to get worse with TIDAL we called Active Batch to see their proposed solution.
- The GUI is available in thick and thin client and they told us that they have no plans to abandon either.
- ActiveBatch (for a fee) can migrate TIDAL jobs to Active Batch. We had them as part of our demo convert a piece of our job tree. The piece came out perfect.
- Active Batch is feature rich – many of the features that made us love Control-M were implemented in Active Batch. Many more features than TIDAL.
- The product is very easy to use, it is not geared towards developers – anyone can use it. However, it does have advanced features developers will love. (like the api)
- Cost was comparable to TIDAL licensing
Company X ended up choosing Active Batch as the replacement to Cisco’s TIDAL product. The Active Batch V10 works better in our environment of 8000 jobs. The operators don’t feel overwhelmed using it as the learning curve from TIDAL is not large. The software if scalable and more feature rich. Cost is a big factor for Company X as money does not grow on trees for us – Active Batch was able to keep our cost similar to TIDAL. Concerns about moving 8000 jobs were not nearly as big with the migration tool producing working results. I plan to update this unbiased.club review throughout our upgrade process