Why I wrote this post
Before I started this blog I made a list of topics I would like to write about and the question of how to choose the best workload automation product seems like the perfect one to start with. What are the aspects you should take into consideration when evaluating a workload automation product and how to decrease the chances that you will find yourself repeating this process in a couple of years because you selected the wrong product or vendor.
Workload Automation is Critical
In the past 12 years I’ve heard endless examples of how critical workload automation is to businesses: banks that will be fined in millions of dollars if they will miss batch deadlines. Retail shops that their chain of supply will simply break without batch, and manufacturing businesses that will not be able to maintain their production line without batch. These examples show how mission critical application is a workload automation solution but there are also examples of how much money, effort and time companies have been saving by using a good workload automation product. I’ve heard a user say that by automating the printout of mails and sorting envelops in the right order his company is able to save thousands of euros that otherwise would have been paid to the post office. A company that have dramatically increased the number of workloads they automate while decreasing the number of employees that manage them. And the list goes on. You can browse the websites of any workload automation vendor and find success stories with additional examples, or use services such as Tech validate which conduct impartial market researches.
What’s The Matrix has to do with Workload Automation?
So – why naming this post with a quote from the legendary movie The Matrix? First, because I love this movie… Second, because you have a choice to make. Many companies make a decision that is mainly based on price, which is indeed a very important factor in today’s economy, but there are other factors you should be aware of before you take the final decision, especially if you plan for growth in the near future. If you take the blue pill or in other words select a workload automation product that doesn’t meet your current or future needs you will “wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe”… sooner or later you will be facing the challenges and instead of saving Trinity and Zion (increasing productivity, reducing costs and reducing risk), you will be busy with putting out fires…
So where should you start?
I’d ask you to sit down, but, you’re not going to anyway
First thing to do is probably to read analysts’ reports. Analysts are much like the Oracle. They can’t tell you the future but they can help you make the right choices by providing you information from their researches. Vendors share with them their roadmap and vision and they interview customers that provide information about the vendor ability to execute. They have the wide market perspective and they can point out the pros & cons of each vendor. They can help you not to break the vase…
Gartner has their Magic Quadrant (MQ) reports, EMA has their Radar report and there are a few other like Forrester & IDC. Those reports are not published every year so Google for the latest one or ask the sales reps from the vendors you work with for a copy.
I am the Architect. I created the Matrix.
Next to consider is the vendor as a company. What are the chances the vendor will still be around in the next few years? Is it financially stable? Will this vendor be around to support you through financial challenging time? What are the chances this vendor will be merged into or acquired by a 3rd party and will change focus from workload automation? What local presence does this vendor has in your country, not just in general but with workload automation specialists?
Vendors have different levels of focus into workload automation. Ask yourself (or the vendor sales rep) the following questions:
- How long is the vendor playing in the workload automation market?
- How many developers are working on the next releases of their products and fixing bugs?
- How many years those developers work with the product?
- What percentage of revenue is invested back in R&D and support?
One way to check it will be browsing the vendor’s website. You can see if workload automation is mentioned on its home page and how much content is available online.The level of focus will most likely indicate the level of commitment this vendor has for the product. The Matrix architect is completely focused on building, optimizing and perfecting the Matrix. Similarly, the level of the vendor focus on workload automation will most likely indicate how soon a new operating system version or a database platform releases will be supported and what are chances that the product meets latest security standards. It will most likely also indicate what level of innovation is expected in the future.You should also know that some vendors offer multiple workload automation products which clearly show a lack of focus. These have been acquired by the vendor over the years and even if renamed to be part of a single brand – these are still completely different products with very little integration between them (mainframe and distributed products for example).
Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions
I’ve mentioned earlier the vendor local presence in your country and I would like to elaborate on that. The power that the Merovingian has in the Matrix movie is knowledge and one way this is demonstrated by in the movie is his ability to express himself in any language he feels comfortable with. You might want to have similar abilities when using your workload automation solution. Ask yourself:
- Is your workload automation interface localized?
- Does the vendor offer localized product documentation and marketing collateral?
- Can you find local resources in your region (vendor services or partners) that can help you with the initial deployment, education, upgrades and migration projects if you switch from one product to another?
In some countries and industries (such as the federal /government ones) localization is a mandatory requirement. Look for references in your country or industry and check what local events, such as annual seminars and user groups are taking place near you.
What’s next? Part 2:
- Operator, I need an exit! Fast!
- Oh my god Persephone, how could you do this?
- Neo… nobody has ever done this before. That’s why it’s going to work.
The postings in this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of BMC Software