BMC Control-M: Still Delivering Value after 17+ Years
My company provides a broad range of human capital management services to enterprise clients, including hiring and human resource management, retirement services, payroll and tax filing. My major responsibilities involve backend processing of enterprise applications. About 70 percent of our workload is batch.
Ours is a diverse environment that includes z/OS, Solaris, AIX, Linux, and AS 400s. For more than 17 years, we’ve kept batch processing running reliably across all of these platforms with BMC Control-M. We also use Control-M Batch Impact Manager to monitor workload processing.
Completing jobs successfully and on time is critical in our environment, especially when it comes to jobs that affect payroll and tax payments. Last year we ran more than 14 million jobs—and we did it with no downtime. In fact, in the 15 years I’ve been working with Control-M, we’ve had only two outages. Control-M also gives us the scalability to support our expanding workload volumes. At the end of June of this year, we had already run 7.5 million jobs.
We’re particularly impressed with how Control-M has evolved from a job scheduling tool to a workload automation solution that supports digital enterprises such as ours.
Managing a Complex Process Flow with Tight Deadlines
The mainframe is the central hub of our batch operations. Everything comes through it. We bring in files and fold them up into the mainframe where we process the data and then perform downstream actions that involve both internal and external locations such as:
- Updating the general ledger
- Sending principal and interest payments to banks
- Sending tax withholding payments to the Internal Revenue Service
- Generating employee paychecks
- Triggering Decentralized Warehouse Management (DWM) and other SAP jobs
- Triggering services in other applications that we run
Once downstream jobs are completed, everything goes back to the mainframe for wrap up.
One of our process flow involves approximately 700 jobs and takes 2.5 hours to execute. And we have to get it done in those 2.5 hours. Missing the deadline could have serious repercussions for us and our clients. Fortunately, we have Control-M to keep the process flow running smoothly and Batch Impact Manager keeps us informed of job status and notifies us of potential delays or errors so we can intervene before business services are affected.
Streamlining Auditing and Compliance
In addition to keeping batch processes running smoothly, Control-M delivers significant value when audits occur. We conduct internal audits quarterly and twice a year we undergo external audits. Before Control-M, audit prep was a laborious and time-consuming effort that involved manually poring through a huge pile of books to dig out the required information. Today, we simply run a Control-M report and hand it to the auditors. What used to take about a week is now a five-minute job. It’s like magic to me.
Control-M also provides a big assist with ISO compliance. With auditing enabled, the tracking of changes is automatic and stored in the database. ISO compliance has strict requirements on who and how these are made. When IT goes through the ISO audit, we run the report for the timeframe requested and our part is done.
Moving up to BMC Control-M Version 9
Over the years, we’ve expanded our use of Control-M capabilities to meet a growing list of needs. We always test new features in a test environment before rolling them out, primarily so we can learn more about them and exploit their capabilities to the fullest.
We are currently in the process of upgrading to version 9. This latest-and-greatest release will give us the advantage of increased functionality offered by Control-M Self Service and Control-M Workload Change Manager.
We’ve just launched a Control-M Self Service pilot that extends self service to our job owners. The idea is to let these people check the status of their jobs and requests and even submit their own jobs through a service catalog. We expect to slash the number of phone calls and emails coming into our group with this capability. The people in the pilot are excited about the increased visibility and control they now have over their jobs.
We also plan to take advantage of Control-M Workload Change Manager. This collaboration portal gives our developers and non-IT people the ability to quickly build and submit accurate workflows that adhere to our site standards. They can either create new workflows or modify existing ones, allowing efficient reuse. This accelerates development and enhances agility in meeting the needs of the business. Our schedulers still retain authority for approving the workflows and putting them into production. Workload Change Manager tracks all changes, so we have a detailed audit trail. Initially, our internal people will use Workload Change Manager, but ultimately we’ll roll it out to our clients as well.
We have about 200 individuals who previously submitted a couple of hundred requests each day to create new jobs or modify existing jobs. Now they’ll be able to submit updated and new workflows that already contain all the required information and that follow our site standards. The result will be faster the rollout of the workflows into production plus a significant time savings for the scheduling team.
Continuing the Value Add
Control-M has served our company well over the years. I‘m constantly impressed with its ease of use and ease of deployment—not to mention the many different things we can do with it. I see it continuing to add value well into the future. Here’s an example: we’re in the process of converting another business units to Control-M. That means adding to our current volume of more than 14 million at the rate of 100,000 jobs per day.
That division is currently using a scheduler that requires a lot of manual effort. Control-M automation features, such as calendars, will eliminate much of the manual work. So we can take on this explosive growth and do it without increasing our staff or spoiling our impressive zero downtime record. Enabling us to handle such a massive increase is an excellent example of why Control-M has become such a critical application for us.