Job Scheduling Utilities: Online ToolWorks SmartBatch32
These three packages let you automate tasks you need to accomplish daily.
- By Bill Heldman
This company out of Portland, Oregon is one whose operation revolves
around a single flagship product: SmartBatch32 and its peripheral components
such as SmartApplets, as well as service offerings. I like this "silo"
method of doing business because it means that the company has to live
or die by its product offerings.
Pros: Easy to install, configure and
Cons: The need to reboot after installation—what's
up with that?
There are two editions of SmartBatch32: Standard edition for shops with
one or two servers, and Enterprise edition for larger installations. SmartBatch32
is in its basic architecture somewhat similar to ActiveBatch, in the sense
that various jobs can be controlled from a central server (in the Enterprise
edition). However that is where the similarity ends. SmartBatch32 is intended
for Windows-only installations and can't play in the sandbox with Unix
(though you could certainly write scripts that somehow integrate with
Unix systems, through, say FTP, Samba or NFS, and then run the scripts
The SmartBatch32 installation was quick and easy; I liked the installation
GUI very much. The installation installs one service called SmartBatch32.
One irritation factor is the need for a reboot after installation. SmartBatch32
requires a database and can talk to any ODBC-compliant database.
The figure shows the SmartBatch32 screen as I'm creating a new test job.
The interface is intuitive and easy to set up. All of the toolbar icons
include pop-up tips to show you what they do. I did run into a little
snafu in that I didn't know how to save the batch job—I didn't think
that operation was as intuitive as it should be (there should be a simple
Save button). After getting the job loaded into the Operations folder
I simply right-clicked it, clicked Execute and the job ran beautifully.
| The SmartBatch32 Operations area provides a structured
view of your jobs.
The most impressive thing about SmartBatch32 is its clear delineation
of the job scheduling methodology right in the interface. You can see
from looking at Figure 2 that the main area where you'll create and keep
the jobs that you're going to run is called Operations. From there you
can introduce as much detail as you'd like: a series of steps makes up
a particular operation; jobs are comprised of a series of steps; dependencies
and so forth. You can think of SmartBatch32 as a repository for various
scripts, executables and other kinds of programs around that enterprise
that you need to run on a routine basis.
The online tutorial is well written and the SmartBatch32 program is fast
When I asked OnLineToolWorks' rep, Jeff Braunstein,
about whether the product supported multiprocessing
and clustering, I got this technical and unique answer
from him, which I thought I'd share with you:
- You can safely install on a computer that supports
more than one processor.
- SmartBatch32 does not provide direct cluster (Wolfpack
type cluster) support. It does support several recovery
modes when a schedule on the Schedule Update Window's
Advanced tab. The SmartBatch32 Executive Server needs
to know what it should do with an out-of-date schedule
when it has been stopped and then restarted. What
I mean by out-of-date is that some schedule could
not be processed because the Executive Server was
down or went down during the processing of some object.
So there are three options:
- Set out-of-date objects to Pending: requires
operator intervention to delete or resume the
object in the Status window.
- Start pending objects immediately: when the
Executive Server restarts it will automatically
restart objects assigned to this schedule.
- Removing pending objects and reschedule: removes
the object from the Status window and reschedules
the object for its next run date/time.
- In a cluster environment the SmartBatch32 Service
will get restarted when the backup node of the cluster
takes over. SmartBatch32 (i.e., the Executive Server)
will examine the schedules and the options described
above and process accordingly.
SmartBatch32 costs $595 for the Standard Edition on a single computer
and $1195 for the Enterprise Edition plus $495 for each remote agent that
is going to participate in the job scheduling environment. In the Enterprise
Edition you can stipulate which computer(s) the Operation runs on. You
can manage multiple databases from the SmartBatch32 admin console.
Bill Heldman www.billheldman.com is an instructor at Warren Tech, a career and technical education high-school in Lakewood, Colorado. He is a contributor to Redmond, MCP Magazine and several other Windows magazines, plus several books for Sybex, including CompTIA IT Project+ Study Guide.