Product Pulse

In a recent blog, we discussed the concept and benefits of jobs-as-code (JaC) and how this automation strategy can help organizations create and operate automation fabrics that are efficient, reliable and adaptable.

It’s worth remembering that “things”-as-code approaches originated from infrastructure-as-code (IaC) and the DevOps movement, which fundamentally changed infrastructure management and formed a foundation for business services and operations. 

During my time managing traditional and cloud infrastructures, I saw how instrumental this shift was in empowering IT teams to build, manage and scale cloud workloads. Although it’s not the panacea some hoped it would be, it is of huge value to teams today.

IaC took us from using disconnected scripts and manual activities to creating infrastructure configurations for networking and servers to being able to easily deploy and set up systems in just a few clicks or API calls.

However, where infrastructure automation is inherently technology-based — with the requirements, planning and execution handled by people with technical skill sets — job scheduling via workload automation (WLA), bridges the gap between IT and business use cases.

Making workload automation accessible

While you can achieve WLA with JaC, it’s also possible to develop organization-wide automations with far less time and resources on the IT side. 

Where traditional job scheduling is time-based and used for automating IT processes, advanced WLA offers a significantly wider set of capabilities to automate business processes across multiple work streams and applications.

Because WLA solutions automate both business and IT processes, they bridge the gap from infrastructure architecture to enterprise and business architecture. Therefore, business rules and logic are inherently a part of implementation.

In that context, the goal is to democratize automation to empower people cross-functionally, accelerating the impact of decision-making to build a more efficient enterprise.

It’s vital for business or hybrid business/technical users to be able to leverage the benefits of a JaC approach.

The power of the object-based model without jobs-as-code

When working in code, developers can build solutions to easily reuse parts of their code, standardizing common and repetitive tasks or configurations. The code must be structured enough for multiple use cases, portable and fit to handle problems well. 

One common way to achieve this is through object-oriented programming. (For my own safety, I should point out that this is not the only programming language that delivers reusability, but it is certainly the most popular.)

In the end, the effort to execute JaC is not always worth it, but there are parts of this method that present an opportunity. The best solutions borrow from multiple concepts, incorporating them to deliver efficient and accessible outcomes.

Let’s talk about how to achieve the same benefits as JaC without the heavy IT burden.

Standardization and reusability

Programming, or coding, is one of the most powerful tools in the computing arsenal. What you can achieve is only limited by the bounds of the computer system you are coding for. With that power comes complexity.

The components that make up the structure of a workflow are limited — we can list them. For example, complex scheduling rules based on business processes, time zones, prioritization and escalation rules.

Enterprise workload automation platforms can deliver these benefits in a user-friendly way, as long as they have strong templating features and globally reusable components that all users can leverage to build jobs, integrate third-party systems and perform common tasks.

With a JaC origin but aligned with business concepts, WLA platforms can ensure that components and workflows represent the ways enterprises deliver services and manage daily business operations.

Connectivity and extensibility

Reusability in code also enables us to connect systems and extend actions into other systems, such as extracting data from databases, controlling operating systems, talking to SaaS platforms — the list is endless.

In a WLA environment, this happens via native integrations and an extensible connector model, enhanced with custom scripting and direct control over third-party systems through agents and APIs.

This enhances accessibility and stability. When a platform natively manages these components, it inherently controls them.

Admittedly, in this model, you’ll likely need to employ code of some kind. For example, scripting could enable you to interact with a remote system using your programming language of choice.

Version control and collaboration

Release management is a critical part of taking anything from the design stage into production. Usually, there’s a three-tier environment: changes progress from development into testing and, finally, production. 

It’s important to meet dependencies across the three stages to achieve maximum confidence that the workload will operate successfully in production.

With a system made up of a specific set of components and configurations, in-product release management delivers the safest and most reliable method for WLA release management.

The result is essential visibility into a workflow’s design, configuration and dependencies.

Scalability and agility

Generally speaking, when writing code, there’s a lot to be said for agility. When you can fundamentally change how a component or configuration works very quickly, you can see the result of that quickly, too.

WLA requires that you perform many discrete— and often different — tasks, or jobs. By reusing job definitions and other objects and injecting custom data (or parameters) into individual jobs and the larger workflow, you can unlock scalability without sacrificing accessibility.

A more user-friendly and accessible approach to WLA also mitigates the scalability challenges that can result from placing control over resource usage and process design into a code-based approach.

Empower developers to do what they do best

Although code-based approaches deliver all of the benefits outlined above, consider whether they’re the best use of limited development resources. 

You may be able to attain the benefits of JaC without needing costly deep development skills. Developers are an invaluable resource, and JaC can place unnecessary demands on them.

A solution that allows you to use components at scale without understanding a programming language frees developers to work on more strategic projects and makes the most effective use of all available resources for the benefit of your business.

Build a less resource-heavy automation fabric

As automation continues to expand in importance to touch every corner of enterprise organizations, it’s unclear if JaC will be the answer to more effective workload and workflow automation. It will always be wise to find new, more efficient ways to achieve your desired results. 

An accessible WLA solution brings your entire organization together in the drive for seamless job orchestration. The right one connects your applications and systems, allows all types of users to build new automations quickly and gives you the control and confidence to stick to SLAs.

Discover how to achieve more with less using Redwood Software’s automation solutions. Book a quick demo today.

About The Author

Dan Pitman's Avatar

Dan Pitman

Dan Pitman is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for RunMyJobs by Redwood. His 25-year technology career has spanned roles in development, service delivery, enterprise architecture and data center and cloud management. Today, Dan focuses his expertise and experience on enabling Redwood’s teams and customers to understand how organizations can get the most from their technology investments.