If you've spent any time around UNIX, you've no doubt learned to use and appreciate cron, the ubiquitous job scheduler that comes with almost every version of UNIX that exists. Cron is simple and easy to use, and most important, it just works. It sure beats having to remember to run your backups by hand, for example.
But cron does have its limits. Today's enterprises are larger, more interdependent, and more interconnected than ever before, and cron just hasn't kept up. These days, virtual servers can spring into existence on demand. There are accounting jobs that have to run after billing jobs have completed, but before the backups run. And, there are enterprises that connect Web servers, databases, and file servers. These enterprises may be in one server room, or they may span several data centers.