INTEROP - Automation software adds oomph to applications

AutoMate BPA speeds business applications by applying automation technologies

Network Automation unveiled Tuesday at Interop a product company executives say will speed business applications by enabling IT and other managers to quickly apply automation technologies to existing processes -- without having to write complicated software code.

AutoMate BPA (business process automation) Server 7 is an upgrade to the company's AutoMate 6 and now includes workflows, which can be easily built using the company's visual interface. For instance, the software, which installs on a centralized server, represents tasks residing on various software agents and network managers can draw lines between the predefined tasks to create workflows. Because this version is automating multistep business processes, company officials say, it needs to be able to tap tasks distributed across several software agents without requiring network managers to write the connections between the tasks.

"Workflows no longer belong to one agent. Network managers can select which agents they want to carry out workflows based on a list maintained in the centralized server," says Joe Kosco, vice president of business development. "There is a growing level of impatience among IT departments as costs keep growing, and more and more people are required to maintain systems. This type of automation can introduce efficiencies."

AutoMate, available for Windows 2003 and XP, consists of three programs: the Task Administrator, the Task Builder and the Task Service. The Task Administrator lets you create and organize tasks, and configure tasks to define which events trigger executive of tasks. This application lets network managers administer remote copies of AutoMate on other PCs, enabling any actions that can happen on the local machine also take place on a remote one. Task Builder helps network managers edit tasks and Task Service runs in the background to execute tasks.

With this release, Network Automation says it goes beyond executing tasks to business process automation, something competitive products Advanced Systems Concepts' ActiveBatch and Opalis Integration Server can't do yet.

"We aren't just run-book automation, which is an update of job scheduling software," Kosco explains. "We provide broader-based automation capabilities across systems."

Scheduled to be generally available at the end of July, AutoMate BPA Server 7 starts between US$1,000 and US$3,000, depending on the implementation.

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