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Enterprise And Agents
AutoMate's Enterprise Edition includes advanced Enterprise class functionality and is ideal for the networked environment. It consists of the "Enterprise" installation and remote "Agent(s)." The User can create, edit and debug tasks on the Enterprise and subsequently deploy them to AutoMate Agents installed on other machines. The Enterprise and Agent are identical installations but, unlike the Enterprise installation, the Agent does not include a GUI (Graphic User Interface). It quietly resides on the remote machine and performs tasks as directed by AutoMate Enterprise developers. With the Enterprise Edition, tasks can be constructed, organized and deployed from one convenient location. Furthermore, licensing Agents is more manageable and cost efficient than installing separate full installations of AutoMate on every machine.
This article will provide a closer look at the functionality of AutoMate Enterprise and Agent installations as it relates to Remote Administration. It will explain important factors concerning task management, deployment and implementation as well as provide information regarding Enterprise database logging options. Additionally, there are other forms of AutoMate Remote Administration available (e.g. communicating between two AutoMate Professional Editions). The information covered in this article applies to those connection types as well.
Enterprise and Agent Download and Installation
Installation of both the Enterprise and Agent versions are fairly simple and straight-forward. Below are some common techniques and procedures to take note of during the setup and installation process.
Ensure that you are installing the latest update for both the Enterprise and Agent versions. The AutoMate User Resource Center's Version History page will supply up-to-date information in reference to the most current version, the date of release and a list of enhancements / fixes. If downloading the latest update is required, selecting the option "Click here to download it!" should take you to your Account Control Panel where the latest update is available for download. The link to the Version history page is provided below:
Installation of the Enterprise version should be performed on the machine that you wish to create, edit, manage and deploy tasks from. During the setup process, the Installation Wizard will prompt you to enter the appropriate serial number. Make certain that you are entering the serial number for the Enterprise version and not an Agent. Then, run the AutoMate installation on each agent machine you wish to deploy tasks to, being sure to use the Agent serial code this time. Note that during the Agent installation process you will be prompted to enter a password which will later be used to authenticate an Enterprise connection to the particular Agent installation.
Remote Administration - General Overview
Remote Administration provides the ability to administer an AutoMate client from any machine on a TCP/IP network where the AutoMate Task Administrator is running. Once connected to a remote AutoMate, a user can add, remove, modify and debug managed tasks, enable/disable triggering and run tasks on a remote machine.
AutoMate is a collection of several separate applications, all working together to act like one integrated unit. Two of these applications are the AutoMate Task Administrator (AMTA.exe) and the AutoMate Task Service (AMTS.exe). The Task Service is responsible for maintaining the task database and global application preferences as well as monitoring for conditions that would cause a defined task to trigger. It also initiates, maintains and monitors running tasks. It has no direct user interface, and is meant to operate quietly in the background until needed. Communication with the Task Service is achieved using an AutoMate client application that connects via TCP/IP on a dedicated port (default port is 7677, although this can be modified). The AutoMate Task Administrator is one such client application, and provides a "front-end" to the Task Service. The Task Administrator includes a Graphic User Interface that provides the user an easy method of adding, removing and organizing managed tasks, setting Task Service preferences, deploying tasks and much more.
Generally, when a user starts the Task Administrator, it attempts to contact the Task Service on the same machine. Once the Task Administrator window is opened, the user can click the 'Connect' option ('File' -> 'Connect') and another Task Service located on a remote machine can be specified to connect to. All the functionality a user would have on a local AutoMate installation is available on any machine once AutoMate connects to it.
Configuring Remote Administration
Since an Agent does not include a GUI, Remote Administration is automatically enabled during the installation process. However, for added security, the Remote Administration feature is disabled by default on AutoMate Professional or Enterprise Editions. To use Remote Administration, it must first be enabled on the remote machine to be administered and a password must be defined. To do this, open the AutoMate Task Administrator on the machine you wish to connect to using Remote Administration and select 'System' -> 'Options' -> 'Remote Access.' Check the "Enable Remote Administration" option, enter a password to be authenticated when connecting and Click the "Ok" button. Remote Administration should now be enabled. A remote Task Administrator will be authorized to connect to this AutoMate Server if the correct password is supplied.
Remote Administration can be disabled at any time (even from a remote machine) by un-checking the "Enable Remote Administration" option. An AutoMate Agent also includes this option and can be accessed remotely via the Enterprise Task Administrator. Remote Administration can be enabled between two compatible Full versions (as opposed to an Agent, which has no GUI) which will allow for bi-directional connections and task management and deployment. Additionally, there is no limit to the amount of remote connections available.
Enterprise licenses can connect to remote AutoMate Agent installations, AutoMate Professional installations and other AutoMate Enterprise installations. However, AutoMate Professional licenses can only connect to other remote AutoMate Professional installations.
AutoMate 6 Task Administrators are guaranteed to be compatible with a remote AutoMate 6 Task Service as long as the remote AutoMate is running the same or a lower version. However, a lower version cannot connect to a higher version. For example, if the Task Administrator which is version 184.108.40.206 is connecting to a remote AutoMate which is version is 220.127.116.11, this procedure would work, while the opposite may not.
Starting Remote Administration
Remote Administration requires at least two separate machines connected on a network using the TCP/IP protocol. One machine must have the AutoMate Task Service running (the remote machine) and another machine must have the AutoMate Task Administrator running (the local machine). The Task Administrator (AMTA.exe) and the Task Service (AMTS.exe) do not necessarily have to be running on the same machine.
First, be sure the Task Folder view is visible in the Task Administrator. You can do this by navigating to 'View' -> 'Windows' and checking the 'Task Folders' option. While checking this option is not required for Remote Administration to properly function, it will assist in easy navigation from one machine to another.
To start remote administration, select 'File' -> 'Connect' or click the connect toolbar button on the Task Administrator. A window titled "Connect" will appear. In the "Host" field, you have the option to enter one of the following:
- Computer Name (e.g. MAINSERVER)
- Hostname (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org)
- IP address (e.g. 192.168.10.50)
If the remote machine is not on the standard 7477 port, you should suffix the hostname with a colon followed by the port (e.g. 192.168.10.50:7800 or email@example.com:7800)
In the "Password" field, enter the password for the remote machine. Additionally, if you would like AutoMate to remember the Host and Password of this machine so it automatically reconnects next time you start the Task Administrator, check the option "Remember and Reconnect." Finally, click "Ok". The Task Administrator will attempt to connect and authenticate you on the remote machine.
Once connected, a new computer icon will appear in the 'Task Folders' window of the Task Administrator (left window pane). When selecting this new computer, all the folders and tasks that reside on the remote machine will appear. Clicking the folder will populate the Task Administrator with the tasks of that folder. Other options will also appear under the 'System' menu. For each connected computer, a new 'System' -> 'Options' item will appear, allowing you to view and/or modify the preferences of that machine, as well as enable/disable task triggering.
Working with Managed Tasks
When you are working with managed tasks and task files on a remote AutoMate, keep in mind that what you are seeing is relative to the remote machine. For example, when you view the properties of Managed Task A, the task file may be indicated as "C:\MyTaskA.aml". This is actually on the remote machine's C:\ drive, and not your local drive. Likewise, when adding a new managed task, the task file is placed in the default AutoMate task directory of the remote machine (as set in the remote machine's preferences).
When creating a task or modifying steps of an existing managed task, the Task Builder that appears on the screen is located on the local machine. Because of this, the user only has access to the local hard disk. It is important to understand that certain actions or triggers may not function properly unless the settings are modified to reflect the system properties relative to the remote machine that the task will eventually be running on. For example, a 'Start Service' action is used to start a service that is located on the remote machine but not locally. When the user clicks the drop-down arrow on the 'General' tab of this action, the displayed list is of services on the local machine, not the remote machine.
AutoMate makes building tasks quick and easy and its network deployment features makes sending these tasks to one or more machines possible with just a few mouse clicks. From the Task Administrator, highlight the task(s) you want to deploy (numerous tasks can be selected by holding down the CTRL key). Then click the 'Deploy' button (or select 'File' -> 'Task' -> 'Deploy.') A window will appear showing all connected machines. Highlight the machine(s) you wish to deploy to. If you wish to run the task on the target machine immediately after it is deployed, check the option "Run Immediately." Then click "Ok." If done correctly, the task(s) will appear on the Task Administrator of the remote machine(s).
If the task being deployed already exists on one of the Agent machines you will be prompted for what to do.
Since Enterprise and Agent installs are mutually exclusive, an Agent does not rely on the Enterprise installation or other Agents to run a task. When connected to a remote AutoMate Agent, a user can add, remove or modify managed tasks, modify the associated steps of the managed task, enable/disable triggering and run tasks on a remote machine. However, once a task is sent to an Agent, there is no interaction that takes place between the Agent and the Enterprise edition when the task launches. Because of this, Network bandwidth utilization is kept to a minimum.
Running Tasks Remotely
When connected to a remote machine, you are working directly with that machine's AutoMate installation. Therefore, if you select a managed task and click the Run button, the task will run on the remote machine, not on the local machine. You will, however, still receive failure and error notifications locally if your Task Administrator is set to do so in its local options.
Running Remote Tasks Locally
To run a remote task (task located on a remote machine) locally, you first need to deploy the task from the remote Task Administrator to your local Task Administrator. Another option is to copy or move the task from the remote machine to your local machine, and then run it from your "Local Tasks". This can be done by selecting the remote managed task, selecting Copy or Cut, then highlighting or navigating to your Local Tasks (using the Task Folder is easiest) and Pasting. Then, run the task. This method also works for moving a managed task and its associated task file to your local machine.
External Database Logging (Enterprise Edition only)
With AutoMate Enterprise, Agents can use external database logging to log AutoMate events to an external datasource. This provides a method to easily view events logged by an Agent. You can find these options from the Task Administrator by going to 'System' -> 'Option' -> 'Logging' tab. The datasource can be configured using a standard OLEDB connection string dialog. AutoMate will automatically create and maintain the tables in this database when logging starts. The AutoMate events can then be queried against any other database in your database server. The "Configure" button allows configuration of the external datasource string. Furthermore, you can customize the level of logging that is made to the database server.
The database must already be present before AutoMate starts in order for database logging to work correctly. When External Database Logging is enabled, the AutoMate Event Viewer will display the events logged to the database server and not the local text files regardless of whether or not text logging is enabled.