AutoMate BPA Server Cross-Platform Automation

by marjo martinez, in Tech Talk, posted 8/6/09

Introduction
Increasing numbers of businesses require solutions to help unify their disparate computing platforms to better improve productivity. The upcoming BPA Server version 7.1.0.0 upgrade will enable organizations to create these kinds of solutions by including support for direct execution across multi-platforms. This new functionality broadens the spectrum of AutoMate BPA Server by extending business and IT process automation capabilities across various computers within the network, regardless of its operating system.


Process Agent/ Process Object
AutoMate BPA Server’s cross-platform support is made possible in part due to the development of the Process Agent, a Java-based application which is installed on the remote machine. Because it is written in Java, the most common desktop operating systems are compatible, including Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, Solaris, and Microsoft Windows. Once installed, the BPA Server component initiates communications with the Process Agent via TCP/IP in the same approach as a normal BPA Agent.

A new workflow item called the Process Object operates in conjunction with the Process Agent. It is responsible for notifying the Process Agent of what command or process to execute on the remote machine as defined by the developer. A new Process Object icon is added to the Available Objects pane of the Workflow Designer (as shown in Figure 1.1) and can be easily dragged onto the workspace in the same manner as other BPA objects.


Figure 1.1 – Process Object

Newly created Process Objects are automatically stored in the Repository for reuse as well and can easily be administered, modified and quickly incorporated into new or existing workflows by simply clicking the WFD’s Repository button and navigating to the appropriate object.

The Process Object consists of a simple dialog window (as shown in Figure 1.2) containing a Command Line parameter where users can simply enter the command to be sent to the Process Agent.


Figure 1.2 – Process Object Properties

Requirements
In order for the BPA Server component to properly connect and communicate with a Process Agent , the following criteria must be met: 
 

  • Java 1.6 or higher must be installed on the system in which the Process Agent will run on. To install the latest version of Java, visit http://www.java.com.
  • A TCP/IP connection must be established from the system running BPA Server to the system in which the Process Agent will run on and the systems must be accessible on the network at the time of installation. BPA Server uses port 7100 as default.
  • A file named ProcessAgentInstaller.jar, which is an application packaged as a JAR file, must be run on the operating system that the Server will connect to. This JAR file is the actual Process Agent, thus needs to stay running in order for BPA Server to establish a proper connection.
  • The username and password of a BPA Server Administrator is required and will be used to authenticate new Process Agent installations. 


Supported Operating Systems

Java is used in a wide variety of computing platforms. It is not specific to any one processor or operating system, but rather, it encompasses an execution engine and a compiler with a set of standard libraries that are implemented for various hardware and operating systems so that Java-based programs can run identically on all of them. The BPA Process Agent is written in Java. As a result, it can run on any operating system where Java Platform 1.6 (or above) is installed.
 

  • Windows XP/Vista/2000/2003/2008
  • Linux
  • Unix
  • MAC OS X
  • Solaris (32-bit)/Solaris (64-bit)


Process Agent Installation
During AutoMate BPA Server component installation, a .jar file is extracted to the Program Files directory in the AutoMate BPA Server folder. The default location is C:\Program Files\AutoMate BPA Server (unless another location was specified during BPA Server installation). This file is named ProcessAgentInstaller.jar and packaged with the Process Agent application. The ProcessAgentInstaller.jar file must be run on the system in which the BPA Server component will communicate with. To install a Process Agent, follow the instructions below:
 

  1. Copy the ProcessAgentInstaller.jar file onto the desired operating system. The default location in which this file can be copied from is C:\Program Files\AutoMate BPA Server.
  2. From the Command Prompt/Command Shell of the machine in which the Process Agent will be installed, specify the location of the installer followed by the following command:  java -jar ProcessAgentInstaller.jar
  3. A Welcome to BPA Process Installation message will appear (as illustrated in Figure 1.3). You must agree to the End-User License Agreement to proceed.
  4. Upon agreeing to the End-User License Agreement, you will be prompted to enter the following information (as shown in Figure 1.4).
  • Enter Installation Directory - Indicates the location of the installation file. To leave it at the default location that appears, simply press ENTER.
  • Enter Machine Name or IP Address of BPA Server - Denotes the computer name or the IP Address of the machine where the BPA Server component is installed.
  • Enter BPA Server Port (Default is 7100) - Specifies the BPA Server communication port. To use the default port, simply press ENTER.
  • Enter Process Agent Name - Enter the desired name to correspond to this Process Agent. The name will appear in the SMC's Process Agent section once a connection is established. (NOTE: The name must not contain any spaces.)
  • Enter BPA Server Username - Specifies the username of a BPA Server Administrator.
  • Enter BPA Server Password - Specifies the password of a BPA Server Administrator.
  1. After entering the required information, press ENTER. The following messages should appear during the installation progress (also illustrated in Figure 1.4) – the last message confirming proper completion:
  • "BPA Process Agent Initialized"
  • "Generating Authentication Request"
  • "Sending authentication to [computer name/IP Address]"
  • "Process Agent is connected to [computer name/IP Address]"

Also, a new icon will appear in the SMC's Process Agent section indicating a successful connection to the Process Agent.

NOTE: The console window must stay open in order for the Process Agent to stay running.


Figure 1.3 – Process Agent Installation Welcome Screen
 


Figure 1.4 – Process Agent Installation Required Information



Process Agent Connection
During installation of a Process Agent, an executable .jar file named ProcessAgent.jar is extracted to the installation directory selected. Once installed, the ProcessAgent.jar file is used to run the Process Agent. To connect the Process Agent to the Server component, follow the instructions below:

  1. Open the Command Prompt/Command Shell of the Process Agent machine.
  1. Specify the installation directory followed by the command below:


                java -jar ProcessAgent.jar

For example, if the installation directory is C:\ProcessAgents> the command to enter (as shown in the image below) would be:

C:\ProcessAgents>java -jar ProcessAgent.jar

A message stating that the Process Agent is connected will appear (as shown in Figure 1.5).
 

Figure 1.5 – Process Agent Connection Screen


Conclusion
With the Process Agent, business and IT processes can now be automated across various operating systems. Because it is Java-based, all major platforms are compatible, including Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. The Process Agent will provide a great deal of benefit to all departments of any business by allowing automated processes to execute on any operating system within the network, overcoming the limitations imposed by non Windows-based programs as a result, accelerating overall data flows throughout the organization.