Automate network administrative tasks and improve server performance & availability at the same time!

OpalisRobot Case Study X

An Energizing Solution for The Southern Co.
Kenneth McIntire, Senior Systems Analyst
The Southern Co.


The Challenge

Energy to Serve Your World.

That's the motto for leading U.S. electricity producer Southern Co. ( ). But providing electricity for the entire southeastern part of this country and other regions internationally is no easy task. The Southern Co. runs hundreds of servers company-wide, 24 hours a day seven days a week. The servers handle hundreds of applications that support Southern Co. business, from the organization's storm tracking system to its customer service management applications.

Those applications require constant support from batch processes. The Southern Co. needed a simple, low-cost solution for providing flexible batch-processing capabilities in a Windows NT environment.

The Situation

After considering a number of other products, The Southern Co. chose OpalisRobot for its user-friendly operation, functionality and competitive price. It is currently installed on five servers: three in Atlanta and two in Birmingham, Ala. Approximately 50 project developers across four states use OpalisRobot to manage business applications.

"Instead of using OpalisRobot solely for its server monitoring, automation and reporting capabilities, we use it in a unique way," said Kenneth McIntire, senior systems analyst at The Southern Co. "OpalisRobot's automated support for batch processing is what really attracted us to the solution. It's the perfect fit for what we needed; it basically runs itself."

The Solution

Rather than use OpalisRobot from a purely server administration standpoint, Southern Co. application project teams decided to utilize it as a development tool. The developers create batch processes and schedules to run programs needed to support business applications. Some of these processes are small, performing daily tasks such as kicking off a database update program when the input file arrives from a remote system at 2:00 a.m. Others are more complex, such as the collection of procedures used to automate the transfer and coordination of material orders from a mainframe materials system to a PC-based central warehouse system.

From small file processes that update financial data, to mission critical procedures that help line crews rebuild storm-ravaged transmission systems after a hurricane, OpalisRobot has the flexibility to do it all. What's more, the developers have been able to create a self-operating system. According to McIntire, the administrators almost never have to perform any support on OpalisRobot.

"There is minimal need to train new staff members on the intuitive OpalisRobot tool," McIntire said. "We show them the very basics, and they're off and running with little or no guidance. When we first started using the tool, developers would often find new product capabilitites we didn't know existed."

The Benefits

While OpalisRobot's easy administration feature is one of the main reasons it was selected for the project, the Southern Company chose the product for its powerful yet easy to use batch processing. Several benefits have stemmed from this feature.

"OpalisRobot provides a standard, yet flexible framework for developing our batch processes," said McIntire. "Our developers no longer have to deal with the technical aspects of coding these processes from scratch and monitoring them each day to make sure they work correctly."

McIntire also said when a client's schedules or processes change, the developers can quickly make adjustments using OpalisRobot. What once took days to program now takes a few minutes. The productivity gains are significant and Southern Co.'s clients love the quick response to their requests.

OpalisRobot provides The Southern Co. more of one of today's essential resources: time. Its batch processing capabilities successfully manage the company's mission-critical business applications seamlessly, and at a low cost.

Software: OpalisRobot running on Windows NT 4.0 with SP3 installed and Intel processor.
Hardware: Dell servers.

OpalisRobot Case Study no 2

Driving Electronic Commerce-Let the Good Times Roll!
Victor Martinez, Manager, Data Administration & Information Access Services
Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA


The Challenge

Most people know Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC) as the place to buy motorcycles, watercraft and all-terrain vehicles. What many people don't know is that KMC began an electronic commerce initiative via the web at that allows customers to buy accessories, clothing, gear and obtain vehicle information online. To provide dependable and up-to-date information to customers, database servers must be successfully running nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These database servers serve up web page content to the website and capture, replicate and process customer data.

KMC needed a solution that would monitor and notify staff of critical services status changes and problems, as well as trigger tasks to transfer mainframe-sourced data to other back-end servers.

The Situation

Most data, such as updated catalog, dealer and pricing information, pertaining to the e-commerce site is sourced from KMC's mainframe systems in Irvine, Calif. Two additional servers, the Staging server and Production Database server, support web activity and are located in San Jose, Calif.

The Staging server accumulates updated catalog, dealer and pricing information and "stages" it for replication to the Production Database server. The Production Database server houses that data and uses it to generate web page content and capture customer information. In order for these servers to work together, KMC took advantage of Microsoft's SQL Server v.7.0, featuring Data Transformation Services (DTS) feature. By utilizing specific DTS plans, KMC can programmatically move data from the Staging to the Prodution Database server.

With all this information exchange between servers, KMC needed a solution that would manage it.

The Solution

KMC chose OpalisRobot software to meet their automated information exchange needs for Every night, OpalisRobot triggers the DTS plans to move data from the mainframe system to the Staging server.

During the website's nightly maintenance period, mainframe systems prepare the data and FTP it up to the Staging server. When this process is complete, these systems notify OpalisRobot that the data is ready for replication. OpalisRobot then instructs the data to be transferred from the Staging platform to the Production Database server, which updates the web site.

In addition to information management capabilities, OpalisRobot also provides 24x7 notification of critical process failures and services status changes on the entire e-commerce infrastructure. KMC implemented OpalisRobot on three servers and plans to install the solution on two additional servers in the near future.

"Kawasaki's use of OpalisRobot on our e-commerce site is continually evolving," said Victor Martinez, manager of data administration and information access services at KMC. "We are always learning more about Robot's capabilities, which is valuable because we are always discovering new needs for monitoring, notification and file management within our system."

The Benefits

Although KMC did not investigate other products before choosing OpalisRobot, the company did consider building its own solution.

"Robot is a product that enables us to integrate our mainframe processing with WindowsNT-based processing at a reasonable cost," said Martinez. "A 'home-grown' solution would have been much more expensive and we have no idea how reliable it would have been."

As a result of OpalisRobot implementation, KKMC is able to perform functions that would not otherwise be performed due to complexity and high cost. Information technology staff members are now notified of failure and critical service status changes around-the-clock, without needing to monitor systems manually. Total cost of ownership has been reduced through time and money savings, as well as better service.

Software: OpalisRobot running on Windows NT 4.0 with SP3 installed and Intel processor.
Microsoft SQL functions and file management
Hardware: IBM Netfinity servers
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