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Red-blooded sites shape new scheduler

    The new Windows-based MBF Scheduler grew up in MB Foster’s labs, nourished by the experience of engagements with several sites migrating from the 3000. The migrating sites across several business sectors all needed the scheduling and jobstream power built into the HP 3000. They didn’t need, or want, any Unix in the scheduling loop.

   The software is another step toward new business for MB Foster. Over the past several years the company has transformed itself into a services provider which employs software. MBF Scheduler was built, tested and deployed by the company’s engineers, a team that’s been intact since 2001, all based in North America and employing 3000 experience.

    That’s the same lab that served HP when the vendor made a basic-level ODBC product available as part of the OS. MB Foster licensed its ODBCLink in an SE version to HP, then supported it for 3000 sites using the bundled SE.

    Although it came out of a seasoned lab, the new software’s pedigree grew out of requirements of customers in sales, manufacturing and the Canadian government, according to Chief Technical Officer George Marcinek.

    “Given that we started from MPE, it gave us a very good starting point,” Marcinek said. “But the availability of true customer requirements was equally important. Sophisticated customers could tell us exactly what was important to them, versus what would be nice, and what was just window-dressing. We could vet all of our design decisions based on that.”

    The 3000’s depth of scheduling was integrated into the environment from the early days of system delivery. MB Foster’s cloned feature set reminds migrators of what they’ve learned to rely upon.

    A master job queue, input priorities, job fence, job limits, and other MPE-specific job scheduling features are built in. Windows users can automate all of these features by using the MBF Scheduler command line interface. Command line utilities gives managers the ability to submit, control, and monitor MS Windows Server jobs. Batch grows more 3000-like with a feature that includes MPE-style job cards in Windows batch files.

    Those who mean to take the Windows environment into the datacenter are among the target customers for MBF Scheduler. The company also wants to engage Windows enterprise users who have little to do with a 3000.

   “We were looking at the people who are in the Windows workspace,” Marcinek said, “not just because they are coming from MPE. The people in the Windows space who come from MPE may have some additional, very specific requirements. But we tried to generalize the requirements in such a way that they will be equally applicable to the native Windows environment.”

    Up to now, Marcinek added, the Windows users who wanted to cover 90 percent of the 3000’s scheduling features did it themselves, with advanced knowledge of scripting in-house or from outsourced services. “They can build arbitrarily complex solution to scripting needs,” he said. “We’ll be competing with existing products as well as internal R&D resources. We can compete for the customers who are looking at two factors: price and feature set.”

    The product has grown up from the production needs of “true, red-blooded sites,” Marcinek added.