Talking with suppliers offers an opportunity to learn the overall features and functions of a software product. Talking with a customer offers the opportunity to really learn how the product works in production. There are often significant differences between what the supplier says and what customers have observed. That's why I like to communicate with customers from time to time. This time, I had the opportunity to learn from Karl Richards, CIO of Total Administrative Services Corporation (TASC), about the company's use of UC4.
Please introduce yourself and your organization.
Located in Madison, Wisconsin, Total Administrative Services Corporation
, is one of the nation’s largest third-party administrators. A preeminent provider of services for employers of every size, TASC provides employee benefits that deliver tax savings, provide protection from risk, and lighten workload. TASC’s product line includes Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement and Savings Accounts, COBRA and FMLA Administration, ERISA Compliance, and Section 105 HRA plans
What were you doing that required this type of technology?
As a growing organization, it was really a case of having to employ too many manual work processes, which were becoming expensive and did not provide the type of rapid turnaround we need. We needed more automation. We provide customer service in five time zones to over 600,000 users of our MyTASC self-service web portal, which is no small challenge.
What products did you consider before making a selection?
CA Autosys, IBM Tivoli, and BMC Control-M
Why did you select this one?
UC4 supports so many off the shelf systems and also integrated seamlessly into our proprietary web-based applications. Our MyTASC web portal platform is Java based, and we liked how seamlessly UC4 integrated with it. It’s able to help us stitch together our mixed environment of operating systems, COTS applications, and customer applications, allowing TASC to establish a single pane of glass and accomplish all areas of automation with one tool.
What tangible benefits have you gotten through the use of this product?
We initially purchased UC4 to help us with job scheduling, but were very pleased with how it has become our go-to product for all types of IT process automation. For example, we use UC4 to also manage our EDI file transfers (numerous) and integrate it directly into our MyFile EDI file manager, automatically handling file transfers, decrypting files, and managing alerts for late files. In addition, we use UC4 to streamline our entire application development and release life cycle, from automating the development build process, to QA environment builds, to production server farm deployments. Our use of UC4 eliminates many hours of manual work with every new release, especially with production updates to TASC’s large web application server farm.
What advice would you offer others facing similar challenges?
My best advice is to think big with respect to what demand of your IT process automation vendor. Like I said, we selected UC4 to help us with batch scheduling, but quickly learned that it could do much more. Others facing similar challenges will want to look beyond what these types of tools have traditionally been used for because they can do so much more. The ROI is very compelling when you look broadly from development through to production operations.
Management tools for physical, virtual and cloud environments can make life much easier or much harder for companies. Being able to monitor what is happening, automate processes, optimize the use of IT resources and automatically deal with minor issues can make the difference between IT being able to have a life or being a slave to the data center. UC4 is one of a number of companies that offers a set of tools that can make a big difference.
The company offers everything from job scheduling, application process automation, managed file transfer (clearly a big one to TASC), management of virtual servers, application release automation and workload automation (the company calls this "Run Book Automation").
UC4's products are worth consideration.