After having an Email exchange concerning Advanced Systems Concepts (ASC) release of ActiveBatch version 10, I found myself thinking about batch processing (also known as “workload automation and job scheduling”) and what many developers and users of today’s modern applications would say about the topic.
What is batch processing?
Batch processing is the execution of a number of applications automatically or without manual intervention. These streams of applications are called jobs. This approach to computing was developed early in the history of computing and is still the mainstay of mainframe and technical processing environments.
For the most part, batch monitors are used to guide the execution of these applications and make it possible for the results of one application to be used to guide what happens next. Developers create batch command files or scripts that control the flow of processing. Upon an error or application failure, the monitor can take action such as stopping the entire job, restarting the last application, starting another application and, of course, alerting operation staff about the problem that was encountered and what was done about it.
The back end processing of many technical, commercial, Big Data and many interactive systems are based upon batch processing.
While mainframe operating systems and those running midrange systems offer some sort of batch processing monitor, Windows and Linux systems traditionally come with relatively primitive batch control systems.
What is ActiveBatch?
ASC has been offering sophisticated workload automation and job scheduling (batch) monitors since 1981. When I first met this company, its offerings were licensed to DEC (now HPE) and were sold as part of DEC’s enterprise computing environments. Today’s product, ActiveBatch, is an outgrowth of that technology. Today, ASC offers this technology on quite a number of platforms including Microsoft Windows, UNIX, Linux, OpenVMS and others.
What’s new in ActiveBatch version 10?
Here’s how the company describes the features of version 10 of ActiveBatch:
Version 10’s innovative Integrated Jobs Library includes hundreds of production-ready, templated Job Steps that are self-documenting. The library allows developers to assemble jobs and workflows faster with pre-built logic that eliminate time spent on researching, writing, and testing code.
A new Check-Out | Check-In with Collaboration capability lets multiple developers work on the same object(s) simultaneously; upon Check-In, authors can address conflicting changes with ActiveBatch’s built-in Conflict Resolution tool. Pairing this with v10’s new Simulation Mode, developers and operations can simulate workflow logic and execution for testing without incurring delays imposed by actually running the job payload.
Five new views in ActiveBatch Version 10 speed time-to-insight by quickly visualizing activities. The newly designed Map View, for example, offers a real-time graphical display and development environment with all workflows and object relationships, while Machine Load View displays a visual heat map to identify heavily used, lightly used and available systems. Gantt, Forecast, and Workflow Optimizer Views also help shorten development time and improve workflow quality. Finally, an upgraded Dashboard provides dynamic visualization of KPIs as well as real-time and historical progress of business and IT workflows.
To further simplify developer workloads, ActiveBatch Version 10 now offers REST support in addition to other API Interfaces. This makes it easier for users to create lightweight, dynamic and end-to-end workflows across mobile apps, social networking sites, mashup tools and automated business processes.
When the word “batch” is mentioned in a room full of developers and users, the common result are comments such as “What is batch?,” “Who uses batch anymore?,” “Isn’t the world interactive and real-time?” and, possibly, “Isn’t batch dead?” While this sentiment is common, it is wrong.
As enterprises move to adopt Big Data and Internet of Things applications as well as continue to use their complex sales, business intelligence and manufacturing systems, batch processing is more important than ever.
Although it isn’t sexy, batch is here to stay and is a valuable tool for complex workloads. ActiveBatch is a long-time player in this market and is worth knowing about.