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Using a bot to monitor your bots

  • 1.  Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 01:00
    Hi all - my company is in the early stages of transitioning our RPA function to be an internal resource.  We're looking at the concept of purchasing an extra bot licence with that bots sole responsibility being to monitor our other bots to see whether they are progressing through their work queues as expected.  The cost of an extra licence seems cheaper than resourcing someone to perform this function.  Is this something anybody else has set up or uses?  As a concept is it viable?  What are it's limitations?  Thanks!

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    Anthony Starita
    Business Analyst
    Pacific/Auckland
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  • 2.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 06:33
    Why waste a Extra License, you can use the Analytics pane to generate appropriate analytics of bot stats, use queue snapshots to show you trends, Queue Volume now to show volume of items and make use of 'Get Report Data' action to get average run-times for a items.
    Also make sure Exception Handling is done properly to send notifications via emails so you are well aware of your bots and their status.

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    Gopal Bhaire
    Analyst
    Accenture
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  • 3.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 09:29
    We are also in a quite early stage and didn't set-up proper monitoring as we are not officially in production status and ​still need some time to stabilize our environment.
    I suggest to talk to your operations team to include Blue Prism components into their monitoring. They have the tools, the people and the processes to do such a job (and I assume it would be cheaper than an additional Blue Prism license)

    Until then we play with the idea to utilize idle times of existing licenses to monitor our environment. Primarily the status of our robots and resources, if they are up and running.
    Maybe addtionally, details of job execution, user security topics, ...

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    Walter Koller
    Solution Manager
    Erste Group IT International GmbH
    Europe/Vienna
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  • 4.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 13:04
    I also think it might be a bit of a waste to use a session for monitoring the various processes' queues, but it's up to you guys because it can work well. There are obvious limitations though. For example, the monitor process has to run on a resource, which could fail without allowing an email or notification of some kind to be sent out. So, I wouldn't trust this to ensure Blue Prism or its resources are functioning properly. However, it makes perfect sense to use it to monitor queue levels and what not. Blue Prism has some info on Dynamic Scheduling (check the Documents section of the portal) that goes a step further and has one session that spins up any other sessions when they need to be started, entirely skipping scheduler. Just figured I'd mention this. I don't think it's the best solution but it's there.

    We have a process that runs every few hours and includes a table of information regarding the queue work that has been done up to that point during the day. This gives us a glance at whether exceptions have occurred. If we don't receive this email, then we know the Blue Prism environment exploded. We also have a web-based dashboard that we use that queries the Blue Prism database and performs some various checks. This is passive since it doesn't send us emails.

    In the end, what will work for you depends on the bandwidth of your IT department. As was mentioned already, do they have time to help you set up some monitoring tools or use their existing tools to also monitor your environment? If your org's capability is mostly limited to Blue Prism's own native features, then I'd say grabbing an extra license (that is, the same license but with an extra session added to it) is not really a bad idea. But if you do that, consider broadening the scope of that license so that it performs more functions for you. It could check the state of the queues, ping your resources, retry sessions that fail based on some conditions, clear out old queue items that are older than some number of days, update robot ID credentials, launch applications to verify they are still up and running so that you'd see app issues coming before the real automation starts, check the weather so that your golf game isn't ruined later, or whatever else. And I'll end on saying this again... What I'm describing here is mostly if your org doesn't have other tools at its disposal and/or you don't have experienced IT professionals to help set up something better, such as an app that effectively just watching blue prism do its work and send out notifications if something goes wrong. You might even consider using the money you'd spend on another license instead on paying a consultant to help you figure out a monitoring solution.

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    Dave Morris
    3Ci @ Southern Company
    Atlanta, GA
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  • 5.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 13:32
    ​Like others have said, early on in your program, you shouldn't have much to monitor. If you are primarily concerned about infrastructure, you can have IT set up SCOM to monitor things like if automate is running, if your machines are pinging, etc. This is pretty standard stuff for any IT team. If you are running server OS, they probably already have set up some basic stuff, they just need to change some thresholds and put you on the notification list. When you get to the point where you have critical automations overnight and you want some sort of triage bot, this can certainly be done by monitoring various database tables and it can be very effective. But even then, you can set up things like resource pools and repeating schedules that can mitigate system hiccups that happen overnight and get you most of the way there without eating up a license.

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    Peter Tarrant
    Blue Prism Operations Specialist
    Agilify
    America/Detroit
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  • 6.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-02-2019 16:56
    Hi,

    We are having a separate BOT to monitor other BOTs. We created a POC Blue Prism process to check how the other BOTs are performing. We have a very tight SLA and we found that sometimes a BOT will stuck in processing a BP working for a long time and this has been impacting our business. The BOT might be be in a hung state or if it is a infinite loop and unfortunately do not know unless someone monitors the logs frequently. The POC process will monitor all the workqueues and alerts the team if a work queue item is locked (being processed) more than certain amount of time by a BOT. The Prod Support person will check the BOT and take necessary action accordingly. This POC has lot of limitations. But I believe we can improve the process for better monitoring. It will not alert if a BOT is terminated or not running. Blue Prism does not provide a  in-built VBO to check the status of a resource/BOT. However we can find status of resource by running some SQL queries on Blue Prism database. You can create a process to check for status of BOTs and alert the team if a BOT is terminated. But this may not be recommended approach to hit SQL queries directly on Blue Prism database. Hope this will helps you. Good luck!

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    Sai Gajjala Venkata
    Software Developer
    America/Indiana/Indianapolis
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  • 7.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-23-2019 21:08
    Edited by Naga Durga Jakka 07-23-2019 21:24
    Yes I agree.Querying the database is not the efficient method as it effects the BP efficiency. Eventually it could effect in slow performance.​ We do using MS Flow and MS PowerBI dashboards and notify through daily emails. Also there is a concept of Dynamic Scheduling in BP that can serve the need.

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    Naga Durga
    RPA Modeller
    America
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  • 8.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-23-2019 21:17
    We do this quite frequently and notice zero impact to our performance. If anything, an active bot is going to be hitting the DB harder than any custom monitoring application should.

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    Ami Barrett
    Lead RPA Software Developer
    Solai & Cameron
    America/Chicago
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  • 9.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-23-2019 21:59
    ​Right again it depends on various factors and metrics of db. We had couple of teams who also had similar issues and eventually their org did not allow to hit Bp DB frequently.

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    Naga Durga
    RPA Modeller
    America
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  • 10.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-16-2019 12:50

    We faced similar issue in one of the operations project and below solution might be helpful.Create a process to retrieve data from BP Database and get all session information and VM name of each process (use tables BPASessionLog_NonUnicode , BPAResource , BPASession).Further filter this collection based on Max Time Difference of last stage in session logs (Current Time – latest stage time).Send email to support group with only those process names which has time difference of more than X mins depending on business SLAs. Also make sure to validate your SQL from DBA as it might impact performance.

    Thanks

    Sawan



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    Sawan Pardeshi
    Consultant
    Personal
    Asia/Kolkata
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  • 11.  RE: Using a bot to monitor your bots

    Posted 07-31-2019 07:20
    This will be efficient if you have more bots in prouction. 
    Also you have to develop the monitoring bot in such a way that you can completely avoid the manual monitoring. This bot should monitor workqueues,sessions,credential expiry dates, mail profiles etc....
    one good thing about this bot is it can run in the background since it is not using any UI. so you can schedule this in all the resources so that if any resource is offline or missing your monitoring bot can still run in the other resource.
    Again this will be efficient only if you have more number of bots in prod.

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    Kiran Annangi
    Software Engineer
    Dxc Technologies
    Asia/Kolkata
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