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Job Schedulers

We asked eight vendors to send us their job-scheduling software for testing in our Syracuse University Real-World Labs®. Argent, BMC Software, Computer Associates International, Cybermation, Tidal Software and Vexus Consulting accepted our challenge. Hewlett-Packard said it doesn't have a product fitting our criteria, and IBM declined to submit its Tivoli software.

Five of the products we tested--the exception is Vexus Avatar--work similarly. A central scheduling server interacts with a database to store and schedule jobs. When it's time for a job to run, the scheduling server contacts a lightweight agent program, which signals the endpoints that will perform the job. The agent then executes a script and can return status codes and error information to the scheduling server. Additional jobs can be launched, a series of jobs can abort, or the scheduler can wait for an operator to take over. These products support failover to a backup scheduling server. Avatar works a bit differently, with each endpoint using a small, local scheduling server. As such, jobs can run independently without communicating to a central server at all.

Computer Associates and BMC make the most advanced products in this field. Although the difference in their Report Card scores is minuscule, CA Unicenter AutoSys Job Management 4.5 received our Editor's Choice award because it has slightly better access control and a simpler management interface, and it supports a few more client platforms.

Product Roll Call

Read On

Management, job control and reporting capabilities accounted for 95 percent of each product's Report Card grade. We saved only 5 percent of the score for price: We feel the other factors are more important, and the vendors' differing business models--based on such factors as usage time, number of processors and operating systems--make a fair pricing comparison difficult. If your large organization relies on job scheduling as a critical business process, high availability and scalability matter more than price. Conversely, in small environments with only a handful of servers, factors like scalability and role-based administration may not matter at all.

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