Wednesday, October 24, 2007

AppWorx Brings IT Efficiency

(Diagram Source: AppWorx)

The following is a brief overview of my experiences and research into the AppWorx application which interfaces with SunGard Higher Education or Banner. AppWorx is a job scheduling and application software for systems operators, programmers, and administrators while reducing IT costs.

AppWorx is unique since it follows a job process throughout the life cycle. AppWorx accelerates business processes and simplifies application management through schedule management through “point and click” instead of scripts which can be traced completely by the program’s administrator.

AppWorx allows for all the traditional batch management tasks, as well as submit jobs and view output. It allows the user to integrate batch processing requirements across many applications. For operations, AppWorx helps a data center with a “lights-out” processing.

Information knowledge, such as business rules, job parameters, passwords, log-ins, conditional processing logic, exception handling procedures, sit in the AppWorx repository simplifying the new process set up, change management, and production maintenance.

The following buttons/windows are running across the AppWorx screen which are listed in the following order: Explorer Window, Requests Window, Output Window, Modules Window, Chains Window, Agents Window, Agent Groups Window, Applications Window, AppMaster Administration Window, Calendars Window, Data Types Window, Export Window, Import Window, Libraries Window, Logins Window, Output Devices Window, Output Groups Window, Program Types Window, Queues Window, Roles Window, Role Authorities Window, Output Interfaces Window, Substitution Variables Window, Thread Schedules Window, and Users Window.

Audit ability is a key component to AppWorx which allows the Administrator to be able to see who accessed the system, what, and when they did. Encrypted passwords are undetectable - even when passed through the network.

Recorded history, audit function for tracking changes, audit reports, separation of production and development and QA environments, role-based security, encrypted server and database passwords, and immediate error alerts help to minimize the IT role in Corporate Reporting

It is recommended when assigning roles there is a good system of checks and balances that are customizable specifically to each user duties based upon the Administrator’s decision. Some times roles overlap their access. Inherited role access is when the functions of one role overlap with the function of another role. For example, if Role A overlaps with Role B, then the unshared functions in Role B will remain in a no-edit format to that user. Also, it is smart to assign more than one role to a user in which there is definition to the “edit” and “non-edit” roles. There is no limit to creating additional roles to the user.

Controls for AppWorx roles take place at these three levels:
- For the AppWorx client the control is in the user logins.
- For the objects in the AppWorx database the control of functions are with roles.
- For the Database the control of the database and hosts are through logins.

User access can further be restricted by designating edit authorizations to certain roles, but not to others. I find AppWorx very interesting and it is highly regarded in the IT world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Diagramming Can Be Tricky Stuff!

There are so many different ways to diagram for reports and manuals when it comes to visually creating an explanation of how something is done in both words and pictures. There also seems to be a big difference between two types of diagrams: Systems and Processes.

Systems Diagrams tend to show how something is happening within an organization or situation. It is here that one will find computer, people, and other pictorial icons. The page can be very pretty and fun to look at, but it can also start to look very busy. Under a Systems Diagram I outline the steps shown in the picture. I have found that it is easier for the reader to follow the steps below if they are written out in Excel instead of Word. In Excel the description can be crisper and more contained, especially if you wrap the cells and outline each box. This helps the reader to be able to follow the chart more easily.

Process Diagrams tend to show how an idea or paper is "processed" by a system. Here instead of icons one will find boxes, triangles, diamonds, and other geometrical shapes which each represent something different in a process such as a decision or a step. The Process Diagram is necessary in illustrating the idea behind the System Diagram. Both Diagrams can be used in conjunction for a manual, but personally I think the Systems Diagram is the most fun to create!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Visio - I Love It!

I have been using Visio in my work to produce diagrams to describe concepts for other people to understand and I love it! It is such an easy to use program once you get used to it! I like how easy it is to lay out the design for the end user to read. I number each step of the process and outline below each diagram the steps that take place in my pictures. I feel that Visio combined with a description in Word really lays out for my readers exactly the process that I am describing and how it is taking place. This combination also caters to helping describe the process to people with different learning styles and disorders. It is great to know that I can really get a complex idea across to my audience. I am a total fan!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Ode to Oracle

Oracle is a really impressive company. I have met many current and former employees of Oracle and I have always been impressed. My former professor at American University, Nicole Melander, at one time had worked for Oracle which she always spoke of very highly. After further research into this company it is easy to see why!

I have even blogged previously about Tom Kyte at Oracle who writes the blog Ask Tom. My favorite posting of Tom's was the snow letters that read ORACLE created by an Oracle employee.

Oracle has such an impressive data base and systems. There are so many platforms that many businesses and universities run on that it boggles the imagination. Oracle has general software applications for massive systems to run on servers housed in institutions. Oracle also has supplemental software to further tweak and customize existing systems. Wow!

I must admit that I am really impressed with Oracle!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Visio - Love It or Hate It!

Microsoft Visio comes in two different packages: Visio Professional (2007) and Visio Standard (2003).

Visio is a visual diagramming software that describes:
- Business processes
- Organization charts
- Project schedules (timelines)
- Office space layouts
- Technology networking diagrams
- And much more with the use of pictures instead of words.

The program can also be a visual picture used to supplement text that can be bulleted with numbers or letters to mark the picture section being referrenced. Visio can also be used to create stand alone graphics for company logos and other such visual applications.

You either LOVE IT or you HATE IT. Some people love this software so much that they have dedicated websites to this software:
- MVPs
- Visio MVP
- Visio Guy

Others hate it and would prefer to read pure text instead of look at the picture to describe the the information that is being conveyed to the target audience. These testimonies will not be referenced here.

Microsoft Office provides online tutorials to teach you how to use the software. However, these tutorials are short-sighted by Microsoft since the tutorials are only geared towards Visio Professional, so if you purchased Visio Standard, then you will be completely lost and find the tutorials to be useless after spending hours trying to follow along. After complete frustration you can find online tutorials for 2003 which are not obviously placed on their website.

There is a good safety net though if you feel completely lost, but it will cost you extra?! You can buy a help book at your local bookstore to walk you through the program. Having the 2003 version presents several problems again however when going to the bookstore as most Visio books are geared towards Visio 2007.

The Barnes and Noble in Georgetown only had the Dummie's book for Visio 2007. Fortunately they have the official Microsoft Office Visio Step by Step book available in BOTH the 2007 and 2003 software versions.

The Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Step by Step book is pretty good. It comes with a disk with tutorials to ensure that you understand the software. The tutorials are very helpful in "showing" how the software works with a hands on approach! There is also introductory information about different uses of the software at the beginning of each chapter which promotes insight and ideas on how to implement this software in different work applications.

An Amazon Reviewer also spoke highly of the book:
"Just what the title says., August 2, 2005
William L. Reeves "LamarDesignStudios" (Tampa FL) - See all my reviews Well organized and easy to study. Suits multiple learning styles. The CD has some excellent additional information. "

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Business Intelligence Platforms

There seems to be a debate amongst businesses on the best statisitcal databases out there for running queries. Everyone says theirs is better and here are a few:

Business Objects

Which do you prefer and why?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Love YouTube

I really like this YouTube video that I posted on the blog I have volunteered to author on behalf of the non-profit company Second Chance Employment Services:

Here's a video back from the 1980's called Luka by Suzanne Vega found on YouTube. Thank you Suzanne Vega for breaking the silence!