Enterprise job scheduling has become a core competency for organizations that require consistency and reliability in how they run important tasks. It has been possible to schedule jobs on IBM-centric systems for more than 50 years, dating back to OS/360 and the System/360 mainframes with their primitive workload automation capabilities.

Since that time, automation in general and job scheduling more specifically have undergone significant changes, opening up new possibilities for setting up schedules that are responsive to time- and event-driven criteria. Job schedulers are also no longer confined to specific IBM OSes or machines. Every other modern OS, from Microsoft Windows to Linux- and UNIX-based systems, now has built-in functionality for automating jobs that would otherwise require manual operation.

The evolution of enterprise job scheduling
Modern job schedulers provide real return on investment by completely automating the initiation and monitoring of batch processes. As a result, organizations don’t have to worry about devoting significant employee time to these workflows, freeing up the IT department to tend to more pressing matters.

For example, Cincinnati-based laundry service and textile manufacturer Standard Textile used Robot/SCHEDULE to replace legacy solutions and also enable better communication between enterprise resource planning applications and Internet transfer protocols such as FTP and AS2. Job schedulers have evolved to the point that they can simplify and consolidate even complex job streams.

“On our legacy EDI scheduler, if I wanted to run a job every hour from noon to 8 p.m., I would need to create eight separate jobs, basically just staggering the time,” stated Brian Michael, EDI manager at Standard Textile. “With Robot, I have just one job to keep track of. … It’s been a time-saver and an eventual money-saver when we can get everyone using one, enterprise-wide scheduling solution.”

What specific features do today’s job schedulers have? A few examples include:

  • Keystroke recording/reuse: Keyboard input can be recorded and saved and converted into a script that can then be run on a platform such as Skybot Scheduler.
  • Advanced tagging: Jobs can be tagged for efficient organization, grouping them by what business applications they apply to.
  • Audit trails: Compliance with regulations such as PCI DSS and Sarbanes-Oxley is greatly simplified by audit mechanisms that detail who ran a job early and/or forced it to terminate.
  • Large database infrastructure: Cutting-edge enterprise job schedulers can accommodate many concurrent jobs, eliminating the need to cram all of them into one long script.

Plus, schedules aren’t just matters of time anymore. While it’s still common – and necessary – to configure jobs that run on certain days or at specified intervals, event-driven schedules are becoming increasingly central to modern automation.

“Event-driven scheduling can reduce the time it takes to run a schedule by 40 to 60 percent over manual or time-based scheduling,” wrote Skybot’s Pat Cameron in “Enterprise Job Scheduling: 12 Things You Should Know.” “An event-driven schedule knows when a specified job completes, a file arrives or a process ends, and immediately runs the next one. And, event-driven scheduling works across partitions and operating systems.”