Automation Software Reduces Operational Costs

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

Solution providers can help businesses save money by automating processes with Tethys Solutions’ Automation Anywhere 5.0.

In any business there are tedious manual IT tasks that have to be done on a regular basis, tasks such as printing monthly reports, running maintenance utilities, archival backups, transmitting data and so on. While it is bad enough having to perform these thankless tasks, there are additional downsides—time spent and productivity lost–which in the real world add up to unrecoverable costs.

Tethys Solutions’ Automation AnyWhere 5.0 offers a tangible answer to those intangible problems by creating automated processes to drive manual tasks. While automation itself is nothing new and many users have turned to macros or scripts to automate mundane tasks, Tethys expands the software automation concept beyond the individual application or event by eliminating the tedious programming often associated with creating macros or scripts.

Automation Anywhere is available in four different versions—an on-demand version, which retails for $169.95, a standard edition that retails for $349.95, premier $695.95 and an enterprise version for $2,495.95.

The concept behind the product is quite simple; a task is recorded using the Smart Task recorder, which is stored and scheduled to run automatically. Although the concept is simple, the technology needed to automate task in a windows environment is quite complex. At first blush, recording and recreating a series of tasks seems pretty straight forward, but there are several considerations that can quickly throw a monkey wrench into the works. For example, what if the application launch icon has moved on the desktop, what if the active window’s size and location has changed, what if the PC is unable to keep up with the automated task – any of those issue can quickly make a macro go down in flames. In other words, in the world of task automation, hiccups are not allowed.

Automation Anywhere has overcome those problems, and many others, to deliver a reliable automation experience to the user. The product employs templates and specialized technologies to adapt to more than 40 different interface changes that could impact playback of a recorded action. The product knows how to interpret Web controls into scripts with "Web recorder," an activity capture utility that understands all Web controls. The product can record any action in a browser, such as clicking a link or a button or a check box. If Web sites change and links or buttons move, Automation Anywhere will still accurately replay the task.

Automation Anywhere offers speed controls, where tasks can be run at the same speed as recorded or in a high-speed mode. This reduces execution time, where mouse movements are eliminated to offer the maximum task speeds. Any created task can be edited and users have the ability to insert additional commands—the product supports more than 250 commands, which include Windows actions, cut and paste and loops. That gives users the ability to create highly customized scripts. Scripts can be executed based upon a schedule or an action. For example, a script could be created that launches upon user logon—that could auto open applications, perform a backup or pretty much any task imaginable. Or, a task could be scheduled to occur at a certain time each day, such as e-mailing a sales report at midnight or creating a call log during a break period.

Administrators can define tasks that are auto deployed to desktops, a great help when it comes to rolling out upgrades. Tasks can also be converted over to executables, making deployment much simpler for common tasks. The product has support for variables and auto response triggers, which allows users to create complex, intelligent scripts that can simulate user actions—a great feature for testing interfaces or debugging processes. For some, the ability to capture and extract data will be the key feature. Here, the product can recognize data elements on Web pages, spreadsheets or other screens and then capture that data to either store or insert into a variable. That way, the data can dictate the automation process or at the very least, data can be mashed up from many sources for research and analysis at a later time.

The products features go on and on, it seems that Tethys has thought of everything when it comes to automation and scripting. For solution providers, the product can be used to support managed services tasks and help to bolster the bottom line, or sold to customers to automate tasks.

Solution providers will find that the profit potential with Automation Anywhere will come from creating scripts and training customers. While Tethys does offer partner discounts and decent margins, the true potential of the product to generate revenue will be realized from implementation and setup chores.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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