Marketing Associates Streamlines Diverse Applications with JAMS
Based in Detroit, Marketing
Associates provides integrated marketing platforms that are readily accessible
by partners and customers. These platforms must respond in real-time to market and
competitive needs and be able to interact with external technologies.
The company produces a wide variety of marketing campaigns for auto manufacturers,
technology companies and major consumer brands.
As Marketing Associates’ services evolved from traditional print advertising and
branding to robust real-time interactive campaigns, their clients’ demand for custom
applications and reporting grew. Serving multiple clients, Marketing Associates
needed to manage diverse groups of developers, project managers and data sets, each
with its own set of rules for permissions and access to application servers. The
company originally managed batch processing with CRON for UNIX processing and Task
Scheduler for Windows jobs. To link disparate batch processes across different systems,
they used a combination of UNIX and Linux Shell, Perl, Python, Java and PowerShell
scripts. On top of it all, Marketing Associates subscribed to an outsourcer to provide
monitoring services to ensure all of these processes ran on time or when needed
on an ad hoc basis. However, as projects grew in scope and magnitude, this hodgepodge
of tools and services became difficult to manage.
Marketing Associates selected JAMS to administer its growing pool of applications
and servers. “We view JAMS as more than a job scheduler. We think of it as a process
automation tool,” says Senior UNIX Administrator, Doug Botimer. “It allows us to
build user groups based on Active Directory’s security functions. We can then permit
different people to initiate jobs based on their roles.” Botimer cites an example
where an in-house developer can process code updates to his or her own codebase
without interfering with other processes running in their environment.
One of the first objectives was to automate the restarting of applications. One
of Marketing Associates’ client’s applications had two instances on each of two
machines – a total of four separate instances. Restarting these web applications
presented a number of challenges. It meant logging in to each of the 4 instances
with separate credentials and manually restarting them. And not every systems administrator
was familiar with the inner workings of each application. Building upon the samples
included within the JAMS Job Library, the company created jobs that its administrators
could easily monitor and restart from a centralized control panel.
Leveraging JAMS’ robust security controls, the company distributed privileges to
three groups. SysAdmins have full privileges. The development group has access to
projects it’s working on; and within that group, individuals are limited to discrete
jobs, servers and times when jobs may be run. Hosting managers also have access
to JAMS, with practical security assignments that filter out tools they don’t need.
They focus exclusively on monitoring and setups.
Marketing Associates has experienced significant costs savings with JAMS centrally
managing all processes. Many jobs depend on files received from clients. In the
past, if jobs dependent on those client files didn’t run, it was a manual process
to fix the problem. With JAMS, the jobs can be held and released. “That would have
been impossible with CRON or Task Scheduler. The cost savings are significant,”
JAMS also excels in the automation of the deployment process. Developers have the
ability to submit jobs with their accompanying parameters to a hold status. Then,
once that job is approved by a project manager, it can be released to execute.
Tight integration between JAMS and PowerShell has minimized Marketing Associates’
dependence on multiple scripting languages. The feedback that JAMS provides through
PowerShell on completion status and notification status helps streamline many of
the company’s batch processes.
“One of the automation features we really like is
running UNIX processes through JAMS," says Botimer. "It lets us know whether they are complete
or not. And they always complete with a valid exit code. At the end of our UNIX
jobs, JAMS provides the status and the number of records processed.” Because of
the way in which JAMS stores the log data, the company can easily access the data
tables with PowerShell. “Without SQLPL,” notes Botimer. “It works beautifully with
monthly and daily notifications. When we receive emails, we see exactly what’s run.”
Another valuable advantage afforded by JAMS is its robust reporting. Statement on
Auditing Standards (SAS) No. 70 is one auditing standard that Marketing Associates
has adopted. This standard, developed by the American Institute of Certified Public
Accountants (AICPA) “represents that a service organization has been through an
in-depth audit of their control objectives and control activities, which often include
controls over information technology and related processes.” JAMS logging and reporting
capabilities enable Marketing Associates to precisely report job completion, failure
and non-compliance issues, helping the company meet the necessary requirements of
SAS 70 as well as SSAE 16, the new standard that is currently in process.
And on top of it all, the monitoring services provided by the outsourcer have been
completely eliminated. Botimer states “The support provided by MVP Systems Software
has been fantastic. We could not be happier with JAMS.”