Visual Cron is used in our data warehouse environment for all automated tasks from sourcing data (i.e. FTP), executing ETL packages (i.e. Microsoft SSIS) and building and publishing OLAP models. Visual Cron is used to orchestrate the job workflow between tasks that have to occur on different servers.
We ran into a brick wall when we started automating tasks on servers where we did not have an instance of MS SQL; SQL Agent was our primary scheduling tool. One look at the native Windows Server (2003) scheduler made us realize we had to find something more robust. Initially the thought was to use Visual Cron only as a replacement for the Windows Scheduler; however we have since then migrated everything to Visual Cron and turned off SQL Agent.
So why Visual Cron?
Having evaluated a number of similar products we decided on Visual Cron based on
•Extensive functionality in all the modules (Triggers,Jobs,Conditions etc)
•Very attractive licensing model. No additional fees for client and API usage
•Client/Server – configurations do not have to take place on the Windows server. The Client UI is very user friendly.
•Visual Cron API
What we like about Visual Cron
•Stability; so long as you keep the beta versions in you development environment
•All of our VBS scripts and .Net code (to trigger and move data files around) has been replaced by in-built functionality in Visual Cron
•Centralized management of proxy accounts, ftp connections, network shares
•The new client UI allows connections to multiple Visual Cron Servers; also copy/paste of jobs between servers (Development to Production)
•API can really extend the footprint of Visual Cron. We have integrated the API client into our own .Net applications.
What about Support?
With any issues we have had, normally same day turn around from support. If you look at the forum the developers are actively participating and engaging users.
OK,so is there anything wrong with Visual Cron?
Not really, if anything it is mostly around managing multiple instances of Visual Cron with lots of jobs.
•Security is constrained to connectivity and functionality. You cannot control access to individual jobs. No AD Integration.
•Managing large list of jobs and jobs running across multiple servers
•No effective reporting engine.