Batch processing

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Batch Processing

What is batch processing?

Batch processing is a method of running high-volume, repetitive data jobs. The batch method allows users to process data when computing resources are available, and with little or no user interaction.

With batch processing, users collect and store data, and then process the data during an event known as a “batch window.” Batch processing improves efficiency by setting processing priorities and completing data jobs at a time that makes the most sense.

Jobs that can run without end user involvement, or can be scheduled to run as resources permit, are called batch jobs. Batch processing is for those often used programs that can be executed with minimal human intervention. It can automate multiple transactions and treating them as a single group.

batch processing
Source: BMC Software

Essentially, batch processing is a technique  scheduling groups of jobs (batches) to be processed at the same time with very little human intervention. It involves executing non-interactive data processing jobs that operate on a batch of data items.

Earlier, batch workloads used to be processed during batch windows. The batch windows are periods of time when the overall CPU usage is low (usually overnight). There are two reasons for this:

  • Firstly, batch workloads could need high CPU usage, and could otherwise divert resources that are required for other operational processes during the course of the business day.
  • Secondly, batch workloads are generally used for the purpose of processing transactions and producing reports, about activities that were carried out and results that were generated during the course of the day. 

In current times, batch processing is done through the use of job schedulers, batch processing systems, workload automation solutions, and applications native to operating systems. These batch processing tools take the input data, account for system requirements, and coordinate the scheduling for high-volume processing. 

The main difference between batch processing and steam processing is that batch processing needs non-continuous information.

Where is batch processing used?

Batch processing is used in banks, hospitals, accounting, and many other environment in which a large set of data has to be processed. 

Some of the use cases of batch processing include:

1. Transactions

Banks and other financial institutions make use of batch processing to process transactions like international money transfers and credit card transactions after hours. After-hours batch processing used to be very common in the banking industry, but a lot of banks are shifting towards modern techniques like workload automation that enables them to run and manage asynchronous processing in an efficient manner on cloud infrastructure.

2. Reporting

Manufacturers might produce daily operational reports for production lines that are run in a batch window and are delivered to the managers at the start of the next day. Companies might even use batch processing for tasks like gathering all sales records that were created over the course of the business day.

3. Integration

A legacy system could make use of batch processing to publish a list of transactions as an hourly batch that is consumed by an ERP.

4. Research

A researcher could submit a batch job to a high performance computing environment for the systems to perform calculations upon it.

5. Billing

A company could use batch processing to run a monthly batch for the purpose of processing data and usage records that include the details of millions of users in order to calculate the charges.

What are the advantages of batch processing?

Advantages of batch processing

One of the main advantage in batch processing is the lower operational cost. It is designed to be simple and efficient and to eliminate human errors so that key personnel can concentrate their efforts on their daily tasks. Since batch processing are supposed to be running for hours and hours, it has the ability to run on it’s own in an offline setting in the background. With the use of alerts such as emails, SMS notifications, or even Slack messages in your organization, if there are ever any problems with your processing, it can be configured to notify you in an instant.

Batch processing allows you to get the most out of your investments in computer systems while ensuring that the limited processing power you have available is used for high-priority tasks during business hours.

1. Efficiency

Batch processing allows a company to process jobs when computing or other resources are readily available. Companies can prioritize time-sensitive jobs and schedule batch processes for those which are not as urgent. In addition, batch systems can run offline to minimize stress on processors.

2. Simplicity

Compared to stream processing, batch processing is a less complex system that doesn’t require special hardware or system support for inputting data. Once established, a batch processing system requires less maintenance than stream processing. 

3. Improved data quality

Because batch processing automates most or all components of a processing job, and minimizes user interaction, opportunities for errors are reduced. Precision and accuracy are improved to produce a higher degree of data quality.

4. Faster business intelligence

Batch processing allows companies to process large volumes of data quickly. Since many records can be processed at once, batch processing speeds up processing time and delivers data so that companies can take timely action. And since several jobs can be handled simultaneously, business intelligence becomes available more quickly than ever before.

What are the applications of batch processing?

Batch processing plays a critical role in helping companies and organizations manage large amounts of data efficiently. It is especially suited for handling frequent, repetitive tasks such as accounting processes. In every industry and for every job, the basics of batch processing remain the same. The essential parameters include:

  • Who is submitting the job
  • Which program will run
  • The location of the input and outputs
  • When the job should be run. 

In other words, the who, what, where, and why.

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