MORRISTOWN, N.J., Oct. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite its name, the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) expends more effort these days on the flow of electricity than water. As one of only four California irrigation districts that also provides electric retail energy directly to homes, farms and businesses, TID has been the primary electrical utility to its customer base since 1923. Today the district has 98,000 electricity customers in a 662 square mile service area covering portions of Stanislaus, Merced, Tuolumne and Mariposa counties.
In addition to electric power, TID is a big generator of data. Production information, intra-utility buy/sell transactions, customer accounts, billing and accounting, and much more, are all by-products of daily operations. According to Ashish Raje, Senior Software Engineer for the Turlock Irrigation District, processing such a high volume of information requires a great deal of scheduling—a task which, until recently, also required a great deal of IT staff work.
"When the provider of our existing job scheduler began abandoning support two years ago, we started looking for a replacement. Some were frightfully expensive," Raje stated. "But when we learned about ActiveBatch, we realized we could save time and money—and still get more capability, features, ease of use and reliability."
ActiveBatch, from Advanced Systems Concepts, is a cross-platform Workload Automation and Job Scheduling Software solution. The TID team was impressed by ActiveBatch's central dashboard, Integrated Jobs Library comprising "production-ready" job steps, and event-based architecture. As Raje put it, "ActiveBatch has a very fine-grained means of managing the environment. Everything is an object—permissions, triggers, dependencies, and alerts can all be reused. That's a big plus from a management perspective because it virtually eliminates any scripts we have to write to complete a workflow."
Installing ActiveBatch wasn't difficult at all, Raje stated. "Two servers host our database environment in an active cluster. When one is down, the other kicks in right away. All of our scheduled jobs are clustered in ActiveBatch, so two machines can handle the jobs on an ongoing basis to maintain high availability," he said, adding that a non-cluster option is available for ActiveBatch as well.
Compared to the previous job scheduler, the IT team has found the flexibility of ActiveBatch to be one of its best attributes. "We're not limited to setting up jobs just one way. We have a lot of latitude to pick and choose," Raje commented. "ActiveBatch also lets us set up a job for visibility. Sure, we could write a 'big old script,' but it would be hard for someone else to understand. We can use the functionality in ActiveBatch to split jobs into a number of steps—that makes it much easier to understand workflows and job steps without having to dive into code."
Raje states that timely data is critical to parties both inside and outside the organization. "One of our most essential data processing tasks is scheduled reporting. Our service area constitutes a Control Area for the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, and we must keep the WECC constantly updated," Raje notes. "Every bit of power that goes in or out has to be balanced. Any time there is a change to our rolling five-day schedule—generation or consumption, buying power or selling it—we are obligated to inform the WECC."
The public importance of such information means data has to be fresh and accurate. Typically, every electric power buy/sell trade has to be furnished to the WECC within the first five minutes. That requirement, along with more routine processing of customer bills and payments and other business tasks, means IT job scheduling is "most definitely a mission-critical function," said Raje.
Today, ActiveBatch operates at the core of Turlock Irrigation District's IT infrastructure. "We depend on ActiveBatch heavily," Raje said. "Not having it would be a significant problem." Soon the application will play an even larger role as the utility finishes rolling out its "smart meters" across its customer base. The on-premises innovation, which can both send and receive data, provides real-time information about electrical consumption. They also can immediately report outages, track usage by day part and much more. As smart meter data comes into the TID system, ActiveBatch will manage these near-real-time processing tasks.
"We anticipate virtually everything to move over to ActiveBatch eventually—even some of the legacy 'big old scripts' we have in place," Raje stated. "Around here our IT people place a premium on ease of use and reliability. ActiveBatch helps us a lot."
About Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc.:
Headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey, Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. offers many software products and options for users of Windows, UNIX, Linux, HP OpenVMS and NSK systems as well as IBM z/OS, AIX, i5OS and SCO UNIX. These products provide answers to software developers and system managers with improved system efficiency and utilization. Advanced Systems Concepts today has over 200,000 licenses installed and a worldwide base of customers in 37 countries around the world. Advanced Systems Concepts is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a member of the Microsoft System Center Alliance. It is also an SAP software solution partner, an Informatica Partner, an HP Business Partner, a Sun Catalyst member, an IBM Business Partner, a member of the VMware TAP program, Oracle Partner Network, an HP-UX Power Partner, and is certified Red Hat Ready. For more information, see the company's website at http://www.advsyscon.com or call (800) 229-2724 or 1-973-539 2660.
Copyright © 2010 Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. ActiveBatch is a registered trademark of Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc. Other company and/or product names are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective firms.
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