Automating anything (on Windows), anywhere

Automation in IT will always be a big deal because there's always going to be that situation where you have to do something obnoxiously repetitive such as grab data from that Web page, save it into this file, load that file into this application, format the data this way and e-mail it out to a list of people and do that entire process every hour during the day but not on weekends.

There's another benefit to automation that is often overlooked: accuracy. Take the above scenario: It would be pretty much guaranteed that a person trying to do that eight times per day, five days per week, 50 weeks per year would make mistakes. And that's the thing; mistakes cost money so automation not only reduces or eliminates manpower costs, it saves the cost of ****ups.

Which brings me (rather neatly I think) to today's topic: Automation Anywhere Server from , an excellent product for automating just about anything under Windows (Windows XP, Vista, 2008, 2003 and 2000 are supported) on your network.

With the ability to create tasks that perform pretty much any automation process you can think of that involves Web browsers and applications on Windows, the ability to optionally generate a distributable Windows executable to run the task, a centralized server component, clients that can work either connected and unconnected to the server, system-wide activity logging, and built-in return on investment (ROIROI) tracking, Automation Anywhere Server is very much a full-fledged, enterprise-oriented solution to automation. Alles zu ROI auf

I tested Automation Anywhere Server 6.0.3 (priced at $6,000) and was very impressed. Amongst its huge feature list Automation Anywhere Server can send and receive e-mail, run tasks on schedules or launched via events or "triggers", run and track the use of VBS and JavaScript scripts, and attempt to resolve platform differences with SMART technology so that tasks execute correctly on different Windows versions and different individual PCs.

This SMART technology appears to mostly work, though a file creation operation that worked fine on Windows 2008 Server failed on Windows Vista Ultimate because of Vista's enhanced security. An additional problem that you have to work around is that in this case the failure didn't get reported (this will be addressed in a future release).

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