It’s hard to believe in today’s extreme information age that there was a time when computers (and very expensive ones) lived an 8 to 5 existence. There was plenty of time for maintenance and the “batch window” was used to handle maintenance activities and overnight processing with little to no critical time constraint.
One of my first jobs in IT was in 1977 working for a state bank. (And by the way, IT was called “Data Processing” then.) The bank used to process all of the checks at 8:00 p.m. Processing typically took a few hours. Then in the morning, all of the checks that were drawn on other local banks were boxed up and carried to the Clearinghouse where representatives from the local banks exchanged boxes of checks, balanced ledgers, and took their checks back to their respective banks for processing that evening.
It was simple, tidy and predictable.
Then Gordon Moore’s law became a reality and we acquired more computing capacity and power at an increasingly rapid rate. Add to that the advent of the internet and global enterprises and business became a 24x7x365 operation with a mixture of real-time and scheduled processing.
Gartner states that well over half of the processing done today is still scheduled. Scheduled processing has become complex, and is typically a workflow that consists of many jobs that have dependencies. What hasn’t changed is the need for scheduled processing to be completed within a specific time period – service level agreements.
In the 1970’s scheduled processing was called “batch work” and was scheduled by date and time. As distributed systems became commonplace in data centers, the terminology was changed to job scheduling. And as the scheduled work became more complex and crossed computing platforms, workload automation solutions came into being with the ability to schedule work based on events and service levels and with the ability to manage the workflows across platforms.
The story about how ME Bank performs their check processing — or should I say ATM processing in this age of electronic transaction — provides a good contrast to just how far “batch work” has come and why the technology has transformed to what we now know as workload automation.