How GROWMARK Consolidated their Workload Automation with Redwood
Enterprise companies have been using automation tools for decades, starting way back with batch schedulers and overnight processing. Over time, new automation tools have been incorporated into IT environments to meet changing business needs and provide new capabilities. These tools are often added to automate specific types of tasks for individual business units such as finance or HR, or automate specific systems, like an ERP.
As a result, many enterprise IT teams now find themselves overseeing implementations of multiple automation tools, siloed in different departments. These complex environments can include everything from WLA (workload automation), MFT (managed file transfer), ETL (extract, transform, load), and RPA (robotic process automation). In many cases, these environments also include legacy, on-prem systems and tools that perform critical, hard-to-migrate functions.
Orchestrating these disparate systems to deliver true end-to-end process automation can be a challenge. Processes are fragile and fragmented, and troubleshooting typically involves multiple teams and hours of expensive investigative work.
Multiple WLAs Caused Multiple Headaches
As Director of IS Development at GROWMARK, Brian Culhane found himself in just this position. GROWMARK is a regional agricultural cooperative—a large, complex organization with a lot of business units. While their IT environment had changed over time, it still included legacy systems and multiple automation tools.
When GROWMARK initially migrated to SAP’s ERP, they initially chose not to add another workload automation tool alongside it. This meant Brian’s team was limited to using SAP’s native task scheduler to run batch jobs. They also had to coordinate SAP processes with jobs that ran on-prem with their legacy scheduler, AutoSys. Orchestrating the two wasn’t easy.
The solution we had was to try and tackle it with scheduling. So you might have an SAP job that would run at three minutes past the hour, and then an AutoSys job that would pick up that output at 23 minutes past the hour. You just hoped everything lined up and everything worked.Brian Culhane, GROWMARK
When the execution time and schedules for these manually-coordinated tasks lined up, jobs were able to run properly. However, the lack of integration between SAP’s scheduler and AutoSys caused troubleshooting issues. In the “least-worst” scenario, if an SAP job errored out, a subsequent AutoSys job would error out as well, and everyone could tell something was wrong.
But when jobs in SAP failed or ran long without erroring out, things got complicated. AutoSys would still run its job at the scheduled time, without the needed or correct output from the SAP job. When this happened, the AutoSys job would complete and report a success. Someone would have to notice that the job completed too fast or gave no results. Identifying and troubleshooting this type of failure, and then setting the job to re-run, was a huge headache.
It was a lot of coordination for the on-call people. They had to go in and they had to look at logs, and look at how long stuff ran. It took a fair amount of effort, and it was separate teams. The SAP scheduling team and the Autosys scheduling team had a lot of communication back and forth. When something went wrong, you had multiple people responding to it.
When looking for solutions, Brian’s team set a goal of getting all of their jobs into a single view so that just one person could troubleshoot when issues arose. They also wanted their jobs to coordinate with each other across multiple systems—and be aware of the status and success of those jobs. Later jobs would no longer run when an earlier job had failed or hadn’t yet completed.
Consolidation, Clean Up, and Cloud-Native Orchestration
After a long vendor selection process, they ultimately chose Redwood’s cloud-based RunMyJobs. First, they migrated all their SAP processes into Redwood so Brian’s team could get familiar with everything. Even though Redwood supports the automated migration of AutoSys jobs, GROWMARK chose a greenfield approach. By recreating each job in RunMyJobs one at a time, they could clean up and improve their processes—and take advantage of Redwood’s new orchestration capabilities.
We took out about a third of the AutoSys jobs that we ended up not needing in Redwood. Either because we were consolidating jobs and one job would do what three jobs were doing in AutoSys, or because the job was just shoeshining and nobody was using the output of that job.
GROWMARK implemented Redwood as part of a larger digital transformation initiative. Even though it was a long process to build consensus around a solution, Brian’s team was clear about their goals. They wanted a cloud-native platform that offered a single, consolidated view of their processes. Mostly importantly, they wanted a way to move beyond schedule-based automation. Redwood was able to deliver on all their needs, on the timeline they needed, ensuring Brian’s team was set up for success.
We invite you to learn more about GROWMARK’s transformation by watching the full on-demand webinar “WLA Consolidation Pays Off.” Brian was joined by Redwood team members for a deep dive into the challenges of managing multiple WLA tools, and the benefits of consolidation.
Register to watch the webinar now for free.
About The Author
Darrell Maronde is the Senior Product Marketing Manager for Redwood’s workload automation solutions. He has more than 15 years of product marketing experience with on-prem and SaaS software, including solutions for IT and operations.