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graphical software for scheduling jobs/applications

Posted on 2014-03-13
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Last Modified: 2014-03-16
We need an inexpensive application that will let us construct a graphical schedule showing our different backup and maintenance processes.

We use a variety of backup applications (Symantec, ArcServe, VMware VDP, and some other processes).

The software doesn't need to schedule anything, but it needs to let me create a visual map of a week showing when things are scheduled to run, to eliminate overlaps and heavy backup loads.  We'd use the map to fine-tune and remember what jobs are running at different times.
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Question by:dakota5
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Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 39927604
I would make a dedicated calendar in outlook, google cal, or ical, your favorite calendar and set the times there.

It means easy setup, easy to show repeated actions and different colors for specific actions and easy to see any overlaps.
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39927731
I've looked at Outlook, but don't see a way of having a timing grid with multiple processes (backup jobs) on the left,  and one week of generic time (not any specific calendar week) along the top.

It's more of an Excel spreadsheet with every column representing a 2 hour or so block-  But that would be 12 columns per day, so 7 x 12=84 columns with 30 or so jobs listed on the left, one per row.  Cells colored in to denote when the job is active.

Sounds like a mess to create this in Excel, but I don't see how Outlook can do this at all.
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Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 39927908
I the procedure the same every 24 hours?
Some extra weekly or monthly backups etc. ?
Are the schedules likely to change often?
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39928320
We are trying to fine-tune a weekly schedule.  Every week the same thing-- Server A 2am Tues morning, Server B 4am Wed morning, etc.

Sure-- one or two extra monthly backups, but they are not the issue.

It's hard to keep track of when each box gets backed up and by which application.
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39928323
Schedules won't change very often.
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Expert Comment

by:regmigrant
ID: 39929119
Generate a list  of all the schedules for week, month etc- Id, Schedule name, Time of Day, Day. Against a list of servers indicate which schedule(s) apply and use a lookup to pull the extra information so you have a single table with Server name, Shedule Id, time of day, day

Use a pivot table against this to count the number of servers for a schedule on a given day and time of day and then plot that as a chart with hours on the x-axis and server names on the y axis. As most servers will have only one or two schedules you might need to change the axes.

An example attached - if its anything close we can work out the details
schedule-gaphing.xlsx
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39929265
OK--
So this is incredible.  You whipped this up overnight?
I've attached screen shots of what I was expecting to purchase (time on the horizontal axis), but what you've made is great.  Covers most of what I need.

Hate to ask you to look at it again, but is there a way to also color code the Server names that appear on the X axis.  I would color code the backup software (server name in red =Arcserve, in blue= Symantec, brown=VMWare, etc.)

I tried to do this in your excel graph but couldn't.

Again, many thanks.
Seiki-software.png
processor-scheduling.png
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39929267
Obviously, I meant color code the server name in the graphical output.
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Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 39929301
This looks very nice, regmigrant.

My company is much smaller and we don't have nearly as much needs and being a designer who drifted into the local IT things I would rely on the tools that I use for every day.
Taking the time and turning into degrees.
:D
BackupPlan-01.png
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39929342
Sigurarm--
Nice design, though as you say, may not have enough details for us.

Can I ask you how you created it?  Is this tied to a calendar or a spreadsheet?
Or is it primarily a graphic that you created as a graphic.
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Expert Comment

by:Sigurdur Armannsson
ID: 39929417
This is primarily a graphic made in Illustrator. This one is simply using circles of 5px width, cut in 30° sections at the start time of a backup and estimated end time.

The 5px width makes it easy to get the circles to touch, starting with a 200 px circle, then 190 and so forth.

In our office which is an ad agency there is no way to tell exactly when a backup ends because one day we might add or change 50GB of stuff and the day after it might be 2TB of red high resolution video files that are added. But we try to distribute the backups in the way that overlapping is one heavy and one light.

We have had to change backup times a few times because overtime and night time work is frequent here. For example the Navision server cuts off users while backing up and someone might wake up early to write few bills and finds out that he can't.
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Author Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39929436
Thanks for the details.  Interesting.
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Accepted Solution

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regmigrant earned 500 total points
ID: 39930217
You can't vary the font/color of individual axis labels but you can play around with data labels (though its manual so a bit of a faff);  I played with the graph and come up with the attached. Let me know what you think.

sigurarm's idea made me wonder if I could provide some way of showing the timeline for a backup on an individual server and represent that with either size or colour (say a heatmap) but as I'm working with data format I've guessed at I don't want to spend time going down the wrong road - what information you collected regarding the backup up jobs on each server and how is that presented to you. If we can reformat that effectively the charts will be much easier to play with
schedule-gaphing.xlsx
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Author Closing Comment

by:dakota5
ID: 39932617
Regmigrant--
This is so very good.  I'm going to use it.  Didn't expect this when I opened my question on Experts Exchange.
I see that you can't have the same server with two different color filled boxes to  denote different backup systems, even if you try to do it manually.  But that's OK.
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Expert Comment

by:regmigrant
ID: 39932632
I added a backup server column - see if that helps.

Remember when you change the data to refresh the pivot table (right click on table)
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