ActiveBatch - lets the computers do the stuff computers are good at!
April 12, 2021

ActiveBatch - lets the computers do the stuff computers are good at!

Grady Patterson | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with ActiveBatch Workload Automation

ActiveBatch [Workload Automation] jobs are developed by two departments, but those jobs are for (or affect) many departments across the whole organization.

We are consistently looking for repetitive tasks that are currently taking up employees time, but which can be automated. By building automation scripts, significant time savings are achieved, and employees are freed to work on tasks which are not repetitive - and thus scriptable.

ActiveBatch has been an excellent tool for this type of automation, as the job scripts are easy to develop quickly, and logging and alerting are strongly incorporated for when things don't go as expected.
  • File management - moving, archiving, and folder cleanup are a drag-and-drop breeze. The visual representation of file management steps includes date/time filtering, file/folder/both specification, and recursion all in an easy and intuitive unit.
  • FTP/SFTP/FTPS - while one must still write the FTP scripts, the interface simplifies much of the infrastructure, allowing the developer to encapsulate the script text in a graphical package that is easy and intuitive.
  • PowerShell integration - for anything that isn't easy in ActiveBatch's GUI, simply drop in a PowerShell step and write the task in PoSh - anything returned from PoSh can then be used by the following steps.
  • String handling / parsing. I find myself using PowerShell to do a fair amount of text parsing (particularly if manipulations are needed) - not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly a place where ActiveBatch could be improved.
  • Debugging - or lack of it! With no stepping debugger, it can be a longer process than many other programming / scripting environments: rather than simply stepping through and observing state changes, I find myself inserting logging steps to excess, then having to clean them up once the error is found.
  • The perennial - Documentation! While a near-universal complaint for *any* software, ActiveBatch's developer documentation is somewhat spotty - just where I need detail, I find summary-level info. There is lots of documentation (as there should be for a tool with such a wide range of applications), but it is in mixed formats (some PDF, some CHM), and the descriptions of specific fields within job steps is often little more than I can get in a tool-tip in the GUI. Allowable ranges, expected formats for string data, and similar helpful details are inconsistent.
  • The KnowledgeBase at ASCI's web site often has examples which answer the questions I have, but not always - and not always under the search terms one would think to use.
  • By far, the man-hours saved are the most important factor - and some of that is below the surface - while things like FTP files just being available rather than someone having to manually retrieve the file, or simple cleanup preventing overloading a server's drive space with multiplying temp files - this is the underlying benefit to all other benefits.
  • Ease of Use: most jobs can be developed within a few hours - or perhaps a day or two. To write an equivalent job in something like C# or Java would take much longer, and would likely be less flexible. Maintaining jobs once developed is similarly easy.
  • Unattended Scheduling - because tasks can be run as a specific user, and scheduled at any appropriate time, disruptive tasks can be scheduled and run in a way that minimizes disruption: files which must be opened exclusively can be processed well before users would normally be on the clock, resource-intense SQL jobs can be run at times of minimum impact, etc.
  • I have not run numbers to determine hard impact, but a quick estimate is that at least one job is running for a average of about 6 hours per day - that 6 hours, if done by hand, would equate to about 30 - 40 hours per day (and in some cases, could not be duplicated manually, as the job repeats faster than a person could accomplish one cycle.)
During initial selection, we compared ActiveBatch with simple schedulers like Task Manager and cron, as well as VisualCron and JAMS. ActiveBatch had the widest range of triggers and the best scheduler/calendar system, and the most comprehensive list of easily-available actions.

We also were invited to use ASCI's normal tech support during a trial period - and having done a fair bit of tech support myself, I was very impressed! It was quick and easy to talk to an actual tech (minimal voice menu), and my questions were answered quickly and accurately, with a friendly tech who didn't sound as if I were an interruption to their game of solitaire (like I've gotten from plenty of other vendors). No other vendor we looked at invited us to evaluate their tech support so directly.

Do you think ActiveBatch Workload Automation delivers good value for the price?

Yes

Are you happy with ActiveBatch Workload Automation's feature set?

Yes

Did ActiveBatch Workload Automation live up to sales and marketing promises?

Yes

Did implementation of ActiveBatch Workload Automation go as expected?

Yes

Would you buy ActiveBatch Workload Automation again?

Yes

Any place one can find a task that is performed repeatedly - either on a schedule, or in response to a triggering state (i.e. a file being created in a specific folder) - that task is at least a good candidate for ActiveBatch [Workload] Automation to be used. Repeating FTP jobs, regular SQL tasks or maintenance, regular file system maintenance - all can likely be taken out of the hands of employees, freeing up time for less repetitive tasks.

ActiveBatch [Workload Automation] is not appropriate for any task which requires flexible judgment - it isn't an AI engine.

ActiveBatch [Workload Automation] also requires at least two servers - a manager ("Scheduler") and at least one worker ("Agent") - thus it is not a good choice for a very small company without those resources available. It is also somewhat costly - not in terms of value, but possibly beyond the reasonable budget of a small company or non-profit with thin profit margins where the investment may outweigh the return.

ActiveBatch Workload Automation Feature Ratings

Multi-platform scheduling
Not Rated
Central monitoring
7
Logging
9
Alerts and notifications
9
Analysis and visualization
7
Application integration
6