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Down With Downtime

By implementing automated business application processing as part of your core IT framework, you can realize significant increases in efficiency and productivity.

From mergers and acquisitions to new compliance mandates to service-oriented initiatives, the evolution of business is adding a new layer of complexity to the modern work environment, but it also promises rewards of increased efficiency and simplicity. Business application processing has become the new factory floor, and innovators within IT departments are poised to become the Henry Fords of today's enterprise environment.

Maintaining competitiveness requires the agility to respond immediately to change. End users' expectations of business processes are approaching that of the telephone, with users demanding always-on, quality service. Too often, however, IT departments are stuck reacting to existing business demands instead of proactively pioneering solutions for future needs. There are many excuses for reactive IT departments, but business application processing no longer needs to be one of them.

By implementing automated business application processing as part of the core IT framework, management can achieve true "straight-through processing" and realize significant increases in efficiency and productivity. Gains are recognized through:

  • Quicker application deployments.
  • Fast, reliable integration for multiple applications.
  • Accelerated delivery of information to decision makers.
  • Higher application service levels.
  • Flexible workload balancing.
  • Scalable and repeatable business processes.
  • Reduced manual intervention and processing latency.
  • Lower production and maintenance costs.
  • Automated distribution of critical reports and data.

Business Resides in the Batch
According to Milind Govekar, research vice president of Gartner Inc., "Batch integration forms 70 percent of a company's integration requirements. To drive business, batch processing must progress from simple date- and time-based processing to event-based processing across a variety of business applications and operating systems."

Tools such as batch schedulers have been superseded by sophisticated automation tools that can drive business processes enterprise-wide. IT staff can design and define the business process at a simple object level, which can then be assembled into intricate process flows that incorporate if-then logic and dynamically supplied parameters to facilitate straight-through processing. These job streams mirror the way business analysts and corporate governors have mapped the business process. Business services are initiated automatically, executed across multiple applications and over disparate platforms, with no manual intervention.

When considered as an essential part of the infrastructure and implemented in the development phase, automated business application processing allows CIOs and IT managers to focus staff on proactive tasks instead of reactionary pain points. Much of the manual scripting and maintenance that was required to complete a business process has been eliminated. Now, instead of hundreds—or even thousands—of custom scripts, individual processes are defined at the object level. If a new application comes online or workflows change, you can assemble new process chains by adding new objects to your repository using a Java-based, drag-and-drop interface. Should existing objects need to be changed, IT staff can edit a master object definition to make the change cascade through all instances, instead of manually recoding hundreds of scripts.

The adage "we're only human" accounts for the fact that people sometimes make mistakes. Sure, it's natural, but that doesn't mean it needs to impede the speed of your business operations. Recovering from human error introduced during business application processing can be catastrophic in the near-realtime model of modern business. With little time available for rollbacks and recovery processes, it's necessary for organizations to seek further automation and integration of business applications.

Automation delivers assurance that your business processes are being executed exactly as you have defined them, on time, every time. Centralized automation tools monitor each process, recording vital information and reporting any issues to operations staff. This watchful eye over your applications relieves IT staff from the babysitting role that once was required to ensure successful execution.

Above and Beyond
In recognizing the need for a centralized, enterprise-wide application processing solution, IT architects add a layer of enterprise software over the entire application landscape. These tools provide communication, control, and management of job processing between and among each and every application, even homegrown or legacy applications.

As a noninvasive solution, the software allows for quick deployment and integration into any system. Best-of-breed automation tools can access live application data and use that ever-changing information to initiate batch processes, pass dynamic parameters, check for job processing conditions, and perform automatic recovery routines custom made to fit your particular business requirements.

From a single hub, business processes throughout the organization can be assigned priorities, and sophisticated process monitoring will shift job executions based on incoming needs and data. This flexibility in your processing environment assists with workload balancing and helps meet and exceed application Service-Level Agreements (SLAs).

A central software solution also offers the advantage of detailed log files and custom report generation. Each business process run is logged into a single repository, creating an easily audited account of your business activities. Reports can be generated based on your needs and automated for delivery in a number of formats, speeding up distribution of mission-critical information throughout the organization. Advanced reporting capabilities can assist with compliance efforts necessitated by legislation, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. These reports show what processes were run and when, as well as who ran them.

Modern enterprise is always evolving. New technologies and shifts in architectural practices are ongoing challenges for all IT managers. Faster performance, impeccable accuracy, and steadfast reliability—on a limited budget—are their goals. In an environment of uncertainty, one thing remains absolute: Bulletproof business application processing is elemental to the attainment of corporate objectives.

Incorporating an enterprise automation methodology into your infrastructure positions your business to react to change proactively instead of succumbing to reactive, point-solution changes that require large investments of IT time to solve. Imagine complex processes executed using live data and requiring no manual intervention or custom scripting. Imagine flexible workload balancing, comprehensive reporting, and consistently exceeded SLAs, while reducing maintenance and overhead costs.

Plenty of talk circulates about aligning IT with business, and new industry buzzwords appear every day. Batch scheduling has long been the silent workhorse of the IT enterprise, but today's solutions have evolved to become hybrid providers of enterprise application integration and business process management. Maybe it's time to prepare your factory floor for an agile future by reexamining the execution and efficiency of business application processing in your organization. Go on, be a visionary.

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