Posts Tagged ‘BizTalk’

We’re still finalizing some of the arrangements (site and registration process), but today me and the team behind the preparation of this event, we visited the event location for the first time… and I can say that besides being extremely well located is a place full of history and culture – Oporto BizTalk Innovation Day will take place in Casa do Infante – Oporto, Portugal on Thursday 14 March, 2013.

Located in the heart of Porto’s UNESCO Heritage Site, Casa do Infante was the birthplace of Henry the Navigator, the man chiefly responsible for Portugal’s age of exploration. Today the building is open to the public and has occasional temporary exhibitions.

Originally built in 1325 as a customs house and residence for visiting royal officials, a mint was added in the 16th century. Henry the Navigator was born here in 1677 and it remained a customs house until the 19th century, when a new larger building was constructed on the riverside.

Casa-do-Infante-3Casa-do-Infante-2

Casa-do-InfanteRibeira-do-Porto

When the registration site will be online and how many seats will be available?

Again, we’re still finalizing the site of the event and registration process, however it should be available next Friday, February 14th.

Due to capacity constraints of the room, the number of entries will be limited to 80 attendees.

Call to Action: Add the dates to your calendar now!

If you want more information about the event you can send me an email: obid2013@devscope.net

I’m delighted to pre-announce that BizTalk innovation Event is coming to Portugal! The event is called “Oporto BizTalk Innovation Day” and will take place in Oporto, Portugal on Thursday 14 March, 2013.

This is the first time in Portugal (also on Iberia) that we are conducting a full day event dedicated to Microsoft BizTalk Server.

As you may already know BizTalk Innovation Day is a one-day event focused purely on Microsoft BizTalk Server related topics that has been conducted in several major European cities since Feb 2011: Amsterdam (Netherland), Milan (Italy), and Stavanger (Norway). The last event took place in London and it was a huge success! It was fully sold out with 130 attendees from 16 different countries.

We’re still finalizing all the arrangements for the final venue, but can share that it will be in the historic center of Oporto (Ribeira) and it will be an excellent opportunity for visiting one of the trendiest cities in Europe this year (more on this latter).

But here’s a glimpse that you can expect:

  • Steef-Jan Wiggers talking about “BizTalk Server 2013: Cloud based adapters”. BizTalk 2013 will feature some new adapters, which are targeted for integration with the cloud. You will learn the characteristics of the WCF-BasicHttpRelay, WCF-TcpNetRelay, SB-Messaging and WCF-WebHttp adapter and how each can be applied in various use cases. These adapters will bring the cloud closer to on-premise systems.
    • Steef-Jan is an IT architect/Consultant at motion10 with over 14 years of experience as a technical lead developer and application architect, specializing in custom applications, enterprise application integration (BizTalk), Web services and Windows Azure. He has experience in architecting, designing, developing, and supporting sophisticated and innovative software using many different Microsoft technologies and products. Steef-Jan is very active in the BizTalk community as a blogger, Wiki author/editor, forums moderator, and public speaker. He is a published author (BizTalk Server 2010 Cookbook) and Microsoft Integration MVP. He has received the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his contributions to the world-wide BizTalk Server community in 2010. He was re-awarded his MVP status in July 2011 and 2012.
  • Nino Crudele talking about BizTalk assessment and architecture review, strategies, methods and troubleshooting“. Exist many kind of requests in a BizTalk solution, troubleshooting, assessment and architecture review. With BizTalk Server is possible to develop the same solution in many different ways, some of these are the best other no. Make an assessment or solve a problem quickly implies a good and long experience in many types of solutions and situations in the field and there are many different technologies in order to be considered. There are many aspects to be considered and many things to inspect in order.
    • Nino Crudele has been a BizTalk MVP for 5 years. Besides that he is also a Virtual Technology Specialist for BizTalk Server, a role in which he works closely with Microsoft Italy. He enjoys this role as it enables him to work with many different clients seeing BizTalk in different scenarios from a technical point of view, size, and criticality. Nino has worked with most of the BizTalk accelerators, Rosettanet, HL7, SWIFT and has done some big projects on EDI and RFID. In the past he also had the opportunity to be part of a big integration project with a major Italian enterprise organization that integrates many technologies like SAP, AS400, TIBCO and others using BizTalk.
  • Saravana Kumar talking about “Monitoring and Management of BizTalk environments using BizTalk360”. Organizations face various challenges on operations and monitoring of their BizTalk infrastructure and applications. BizTalk360 is designed to address most of the challenges. In this presentation, Saravana will go through the various pain points’ organizations face and how you can tackle it with BizTalk360.
    • Saravana Kumar is the Founder and CTO of BizTalk360, enterprise software that helps Microsoft BizTalk server customers better manage their production or any controlled BizTalk environments. Saravana Kumar is a Microsoft BizTalk server MVP since 2007, blogger, international speaker and active community member in BizTalk Server area. In year 2005, he won the worldwide developer competition conducted by Microsoft for building SQL Server Service Broker Management studio. Saravana has spent the majority of his career working with organizations in UK helping them build their enterprise software solutions. Prior to BizTalk360, he worked for past 5 years helping Fidelity UK built their SOA/BPM platform using Microsoft BizTalk Server. In the past Saravana has worked for some of the big consulting companies like Accenture, NHS, Microsoft, BT, Unilog (now Logica) etc. as an independent consultant.
  • Tord Glad Nordahl talking about “Proactivity in BizTalk”. BizTalk is the leading integration platform, in order for the enterprise to maintain a stable environment proactivity is important. There are many things to be aware of in BizTalk, and it’s one thing to solve problems that occur, however it’s even more important to be proactive to maintain the stability and high availability that BizTalk brings. This presentation will dig into counters, database and best practices when it comes to proactivity in BizTalk.
    • Tord Glad Nordahl is a BizTalk Administration Expert for Bouvet ASA, over 5 years’ experience with BizTalk. His passion for operation and administration have ended up with a BizTalk Admin Deep Dive course. You can follow his contribution to the community through his blog (www.biztalkadmin.com), TechNet Wiki, TechNet Wiki Blog and the MSDN Forums. Tord was the first BizTalk Administrator to receive the Microsoft Integration MVP award (2013).

I’ll probably be presenting a session too, but for now I will keep it secret Sorriso, stay tuned for more information soon!

Travel

This event is will be fully taught in English, and with low cost airfares and reasonable hotel prices, we will make sure this will be an very attractive proposition for anyone living in Western Europe. Please take a minute to see this small video about the Port Wine region ;):

Porto Airport, otherwise known as Fracisco Sá Carneiro Airport, is located 10Km North of Porto, on the North West coast of Portugal. There is a Metro connecting the airport to Porto, journey times to various city locations 25-35 minutes at a cost of approximately 2 Euros. There are also regular bus services to the city, the surrounding area, or north to Vigo in Spain. Bus fare to the city approximately 2 Euros, and 12 Euros to Vigo.

Here are some of the estimated flight times from some of the cities with direct flights to Oporto Airport:

Airport

Time

Lisboa 44 minutes
Madrid 1 hours, 6 minutes
Toulouse 1 hours, 39 minutes
Nantes 1 hours, 40 minutes
Barcelona 1 hours, 43 minutes
Valencia 1 hours, 53 minutes
Tours 1 hours, 55 minutes
Bordeaux 1 hours, 59 minutes
Dole 2 hours, 4 minutes
Geneva 2 hours, 5 minutes
London 2 hours, 5 minutes
St Etienne 2 hours, 12 minutes
Paris 2 hours, 14 minutes
Marseille 2 hours, 15 minutes
Lyon 2 hours, 17 minutes
Brussels 2 hours, 19 minutes
Basel 2 hours, 20 minutes
Luxembourg 2 hours, 22 minutes
Milan 2 hours, 24 minutes
Zurich 2 hours, 25 minutes
Eindhoven 2 hours, 29 minutes
Karlsruhe 2 hours, 31 minutes
Dusseldorf 2 hours, 31 minutes
Amsterdam 2 hours, 33 minutes
Memmingen 2 hours, 35 minutes
Frankfurt 2 hours, 35 minutes
Rome 2 hours, 43 minutes
Munich 2 hours, 44 minutes
Bremen 2 hours, 53 minutes

If you want more information about the event you can send me an email: obid2013@devscope.net

Call to Action: Add the dates to your calendar now!

128 attendees, more than 70 different companies across 16 countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA), more than 10 Microsoft Integration MVP’s present (speakers, Q&A members and attendees) and 3 members of Microsoft Product group, these are some of the numbers that reflect the huge success of this event! This was the first time in UK that was been conduct a full day event dedicated to Microsoft BizTalk Server.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Room

I have to congratulate and say thanks Saravana Kumar, Microsoft and BizTalk360 for well organize this magnificent event!

The journey

I arrive on 15 January to Gatwick Airport in London without problems or setbacks – Saravana was waiting for me at the airport – We went visit BizTalk360 Office and Saravana home ad then we return to the airport to pick up Nino Crudele. The next step was to go meet the remaining members of BizTalk Crew (Nino Crudele, Saravana Kumar, Tord Glad Nordahl, Steef-Jan Wiggers and me) along with Rui Machado (my coworker) and Michael Stephenson for a very nice dinner.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Dinner

The event

As I mentioned earlier the event was a huge success. My session was in the afternoon after the Q&A session and I have to confess I was a little nervous for being in the presence of 140 BizTalk experts! And because Guru Venkataraman and Ravi Krishnaswamy from Microsoft Product Group talked on the keynote and in the Q & A session, some of the basics on the subject I would speak “Windows Azure BizTalk Services” or “Windows Azure EAI & EDI Labs”… I decided to risk a little further and make the session more practical, not spending too much time on the slides, and made for the first time one demo from scratch during my session!!! In the end I presented 3 demos:

  1. EAI SQL Demo: A basic integration scenario “Registration to the event” where we send messages to the cloud (EAI Brigde), then we apply a transformation and send this message to one system on-premise using LOB Targets and Service Bus Connect and then get the response back – So a very simple scenario.
  2. Customers Orders Routing Demo: The second is a more elaborate scenario: “Order Scenario” – the goal is to send order messages to the cloud (EAI Brigde), apply transformation, Enrich properties in the Bridge (like Property promotion) and Route messages; and treat them in different ways – different transformation, different endpoint like queues or different lob targets: if is a top priority message we need to put the message in SQL table on-premise, if is a normal message we put in a Azure Queue and if was an invalid message we put the message in another SQL table on-premise… this demo will show also how can we apply filters.
  3. EDI Demo: The last demo will be a EDI DEMO where we will see how to configure trading partners, agreements and EDI Bridges… them send this EDI messages to an on-premise system (SQL)

But fortunately I received many good reviews by the attendees, either after the session, or during breaks or by email… for that… thank you very very very much!!!

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-EAI-EDI-SessionBizTalk-Summit-2013-London-EAI-EDI-Session-2

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-EAI-EDI-Session-3BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-EAI-EDI-Session-4

But let’s go back to the beginning… The registrations started at 8 AM and progress very smoothly, however the event would start with a few minutes late due to a falling helicopter in London which caused the backwardness of two member of Microsoft Product group and attendees.

The event started at 9:15 by the hand of Saravana Kumar who made the introduction of all speaker, the agenda of the day and health and safety information, after that one rare moment in the Europe… our very special guest the Microsoft Product group (Guru Venkataraman and Ravi Krishnaswamy) made the Keynote of the event. Both Guru and Ravi showcased some of the core features that are added to BizTalk Server 2013, Azure BizTalk Services, and more importantly they demonstrated Microsoft commitment on BizTalk server and openly commented there will be more versions of BizTalk server.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Keynote

After the keynote, were carried out two more sessions in the morning:

  • Steef-Jan Wiggers presented a session about the new cloud related adapters (WCF-BasicHttpRelay, WCF-NetTcpRelay, SB-Messaging and WCF-WebHttp.) that’s going to ship with BizTalk Server 2013 demonstrating the characteristics of each adapter with a demo!
  • Saravana Kumar demonstrated in its session how to improve your operations (monitoring and management) in your BizTalk environment using BizTalk360.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-SteefBizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Saravana

The afternoon started with Q&A panel with Kent Brown and Ravi Krishnaswamy from Microsoft Product Group joined by Charles Young, Jon Fancey (Microsoft Integration MVP) and Michael Stephenson (Microsoft Integration MVP)and what a great session!!! Many of the question was target to Kent and Ravi about roadmaps both on cloud and on-premise and despite some question were complicated to answer, none of them went unanswered and were very well accompanied by the other panel members.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Q&A

After the Q&A I took the stage with my session about Windows Azure Service EAI/EDI Labs (or Windows Azure BizTalk Services) that I already described in detail. After I live the stage, were presented two more sessions:

  • Nino Crudele presented a session about BizTalk assessment and architecture review with real scenarios, if some of the attendees didn’t know Nino, they never will forget with his session full of great content and extremely hilarious! Nino is the kind of speaker that captivates any audience even the camera crew couldn’t stop laughing.
  • And finally Tord Glad Nordahl with is excellent session where he explained some of the platform improvements in Windows Server 2012 and SQL server 2012 that can have impact in BizTalk Server 2013

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-NinoBizTalk-Summit-2013-London-Tord

This day was wrapped up by Saravana Kumar and after this with have time to talk weed the attendees – some social network – and have some beers after the event.

BizTalk-Summit-2013-London-social-networkBizTalk-Summit-2013-London-after-event

Once again, it was excellent and an honor to participate in this event along with all these amazing people that were responsible for this happens: the speakers (BizTalk Crew), Microsoft, BizTalk360 crew members and special all the attendees! It was good to have a chat and meet many amazing people like Naushad Alam, Charles Young, Stephen W. Thomas, Tarun Kumar Garg, Peter Vervoorn, Daniel Bautista Sanz, Ashwin Prabhu, Fabio Marini and many more (sorry if you are not mentioned here, you are so many! – Leave me a comment).

After the event

After the event has ended, unfortunately Tord had to go back home, but the rest of the team accompanied by Rui Machado and Stephen W. Thomas enjoyed themselves a little, visiting and getting to know the City of London

London-CityLondon-City-2

Our next event will be organized by me and my company DevScope and will be in Portugal in March 2013. See you here!

Today while I was playing with BizTalk Server 2006, yes I know very old stuff, but sometimes is needed… and for those who are accustomed to developer BizTalk solutions knows that we need to sign the project with a strong name assembly key file before we deploy them… nothing new.

The funniest part came when I tried to build the solution in Visual Studio, and I ended up getting this odd error:

Cryptographic failure while signing assembly ‘Myproject.dll’ — ‘The key container name ‘MyKey.snk’ does not exist’

At first I thought I had set the path to the key wrong, but I quickly realized that was not the case, and if that was the case, we would have received a different error message:

Cryptographic failure while signing assembly ‘Myproject.dll’ – ‘Error reading key file ‘MyKey.snk’ — The system cannot find the file specified’

CAUSE

You have incorrectly defined a strong name key file!

The process to sign the project in Visual Studio 2010 is very different than in Visual Studio 2005. In 2005 we have 3 properties:

  • Assembly Delay Sign
  • Assembly Key File
  • and Assembly Key Name

And we normally only need to configure the “Assembly Key File”… however, in my case I copied and configure the wrong property without intention which led to me to receive this error message, hehehe

assembly-sign-strong-name

SOLUTION

That easy, you have to properly configure the property "Assembly Key File"

Hehehe… Everyone make mistakes, hehehe lesson learned.

Last week I have encountered an unusual situation in my BizTalk Server 2010 production environment… when I was trying to restart BizTalk Host Instance after publishing a small change in one of my applications, one of the host instances got stuck in “Stop pending” state.

host-instance-state

The major problem of this stage is that we cannot perform any kind of operations on it through BizTalk Server Administration Console or Service window

services-windows

CAUSE

Well, unfortunately, I don’t know exactly why this problem has occurred, but I came across with these posts:

And I believe that this problem was due to the deploy, unfortunately and against my suggestions, the client had not installed the latest CU (I think that the last CU installed, was the CU2)

SOLUTION

First of all I suggest that you install the latest CU available.

But because this was a production environment and I needed to solve the problem quickly the solution to solve this problem is to kill the process via Windows Task Manager! Is not an elegant solution, I know and please avoid doing it.

Then go to BizTalk Server Administration Console or Service window and start the process.

Another precaution that you must have, if you have multiple Host Instances, is to know what is the process id of the host instance in order to terminate the correct one, you can accomplish this following the steps in this post:

Related links:

Microsoft Integration MVP 2013

Microsoft Integration MVP 2013

Thanks Microsoft for another wonderful start of New Year. I’m delighted to share that I have been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2013.

For me this is the third time to receive this award and as usual on such occasions, I would like to thank my MVP Lead Cristina Herrero, BizTalk Product Team, Mandi Ohlinger, Miguel Vicente, Paulo Mena and all other Microsoft employees and community members.

Also a big thanks to all my blog readers, friends, members of BizTalk Community and to my fellow MVP’s. A special thanks to Saravana Kumar, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Nino Crudele and Tord Glad Nordahl and all Portuguese MVP’s.

And finally to my beautiful girlfriend Lígia, to my family and to all my coworkers at DevScope for all the support.

It’s a big honor to be in the program and I’m looking forward to another great year.

Now in my native language (Portuguese):

Obrigado Microsoft para outro maravilhoso início de Ano Novo. Estou muito feliz por poder partilhar com todos vocês que fui nomeado Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) 2013.

Esta é a terceira vez que recebo este prémio e como é normal nestas ocasiões, gostaria de agradecer a minha MVP Lead Cristina Herrero, a todas as pessoas da Microsoft em especial à equipa do produto - BizTalk Product Team, Mandi Ohlinger, Miguel Vicente e Paulo Mena, aos leitores do meu blog, amigos e a todos os membros da comunidade.

Um grande obrigado também aos leitores do meu blog, amigos, a todos os membros da comunidade, em especial a comunidade de BizTalk e a todos os MVP’s.  Um agradecimento especial a Saravana Kumar, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Crudele Nino e Nordahl Tord e a todos os MVP Portugueses.

E, finalmente, minha linda namorada Lígia, há minha família e a todos os meus colegas de trabalho na  DevScope por todo o apoio e suporte.

É uma grande honra estar no programa e espero continuar a contribuir para a comunidade BizTalk e a merecer o reconhecimento.

<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 21 false false false PT X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>Gostaria de agradecer a todas as pessoas da Microsoft pela nomeação como um MVP de BizTalk, a todos os membros da comunidade, aos meus colegas de trabalho da DevScope por todo o suporte e a todas as outras pessoas envolvidas
Governance and Auditing Capabilities

I leave it to the end, which in my opinion is perhaps one of the main and important functionality of this tool and that no other on the market enables: the ability to bring auditing functionalities to BizTalk Server platform.

The same way as it is imperative for organizations to be able to manage access permissions to the several resources on Microsoft BizTalk Server platform, they must also have the ability, often by regulatory requirements or simply good practice to know who’s doing what in the platform, to following and monitor all the users activities from support or administration team in their environments, mainly in production environments.

Have you ever thought that, for example, someone accidentally or purposely terminate several critical business messages (like order messages)? How will you find out who made ​​this operation? With the tools included in the product this operation or audit degree is simply impossible, yet it is extremely critical in organizations.

BizTalk360 provides comprehensive auditing capabilities, Taking note (or tracking) of normal operating activities for the following areas:

  • Audit Service Instance Operations: From time to time we’ll see BizTalk service instances getting suspended in BizTalk server for variety of reasons like unhandled exceptions, environment issues and so on. The support or administration team way have to make a business decision whether to resume/retry the instance or terminate it completely and they could take a wrong decision, costing the business a potential transaction, for that reason (and many more) it’s important to identify such activities in the system for future auditing and governance purpose. BizTalk360 address this problem by register all activities over the Service instances such as: suspend, resume or terminate instances.

BizTalk360-Governance-Auditing-Capabilities

  • Audit Host Instance Operations: All the BizTalk artifacts like Receive ports, Orchestrations and Send Ports runs within the boundary of a host/host instance, they are the run time engine. BizTalk Server provides the capability to start, stop, enable and disable a host instance and any operation that the operator performs on them can have serious consequences. BizTalk360 address this problem by register all activities about who stops the host instances and what’s the reason for this operation, who starts or who enables/disables Host Instances.

BizTalk360-Governance-Auditing-Capabilities-2

  • Audit Application Operations: There are three main pillars in this architecture i.e. Receive section, Processing section and Send section. All three of them are isolated from one another, and BizTalk provides us with great flexibility in controlling each one of them individually. If we disabling or stop one of them it way have great consequences to your business, for example if we disable a receive location the messages won’t be polled and processed. BizTalk360 address this problem by register all activities at the applications level such as: start, stop, enlisted and unenlisted send ports or orchestrations; or enable/disable receive locations.

BizTalk360-Governance-Auditing-Capabilities-3

BizTalk 360 also provides a consolidated Governance/Audit Dashboard to help super user see all the recent activities in the system. The dashboard shows the last 5 activities from the audited areas of the system.

BizTalk360-Governance-Auditing-Capabilities-Dashboard

Conclusion

There are several products on the market that allow you to perform monitoring in BizTalk Server environments, such as: System Center Operation Manager, HP OpenView, Minotaur, Moesion, BizTalk Processing Monitor and many more. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but none of them can make a complete monitoring in accordance with the real needs of customers, which forces us to use a combinations of tools to achieve our goals.

BizTalk360 is one of the most complete tools in the market for performing support and monitoring BizTalk Server environments, one of the few that focused its efforts to fill all the gaps left by Microsoft in this area and most important, always focused on the real needs of customers.

However there are many more features in this tool that were not described in this series of post and that you can discover using beta trial version here: http://www.biztalk360.com/Content/beta. You may also find prices information of this tool here: http://www.biztalk360.com/pricing/enterprise.

Productivity Tools
Integrated Knowledge Base Repository

Once the problems, failures or incident are solved, usually two things may happen:

  1. The administration team documents the problem in an internal repository (Wiki, SharePoint) of the organization, or in a worst case scenario in their personal notebooks;
  2. The Administration team after the incident has been solved don’t make any kind of documentation;

Many of you will be familiar with step 2 … The problem with these two approaches is that the information, or does not exist or is not quickly available to users when these incidents occurs again. Sometimes the existing documentation is worthless or with difficult access which leads to people quickly stop using these internal repositories systems, sometimes new team elements are unaware of these repositories and they are quickly outdated and unfortunately there are still some who simply hate doing documentation and avoid them as much as possible.

BizTalk360-Knowledge-Base-Repository

BizTalk360 addresses this issue by providing an integrated Knowledge Base repository, which enables users to add the different events (add KB associated to the ids of the Event Viewer events or error codes of suspended service instances), information about the necessary processes to correct the problems. The next time the same error occurs, the BizTalk360 will inform you that there is a knowledge base available to this specific problem, and by that consequently will speeding up the resolution of the issue, failure or incident.

For example, consider the below screenshot of Advanced Event Viewer. If there is a knowledge base article previously attached to an event, a “?” icon will be displayed on the grid, giving visual clue to the support person telling there is additional KB information present for the event and when the user double click and open the detail window, he/she can see all the information as shown below:

BizTalk360-Knowledge-Base-Repository-2

And like others repositories you may also configure Knowledgebase edit permission by either granting or revoking “Edit Knowledgebase article” permission on the user access policy screen in “Settings”.

Advanced Event Viewer

One of the common problems that administration teams face when are trying to monitor or diagnose problems in BizTalk Server platform, especially on platforms with high availability (multi-server), is that errors or failures occur on different servers which forces us this way to go to all of them in order to find or to check if there is a problem. Besides this task can be time consuming it also bring security risks, since we must allow team members to access, most of the time with high permissions and with full access to the servers (which is not always allowed in most of the companies).

BizTalk360 addresses this issue by providing a functionality of a centralized Event Viewer, aggregating information from all different event logs and presents it in a unique place.

BizTalk360-Advanced-Event-Viewer

Graphical Message Flow viewer

For people in charge of diagnosing incidents with limited knowledge about BizTalk normally support teams, one of the biggest challenges is to understand way that messages travel within the platform. BizTalk being a powerful publish-subscribe engine, a message sent to the system will be subscribed by one or more ports or orchestrations and can travel internally through several phases. Typically to carry out this type of diagnostic at this level, the support team should have a thorough knowledge about BizTalk and how to use the message flow tools available with the product.

Once again the BizTalk360 removes the complexity of this problem by providing a graphical viewer of the message flow based on BizTalk tracking information (BizTalk tracking data). It will greatly reduce the time taken to diagnose issues and helps to get a better understanding of how your application is designed and therefore enabling support teams with basic BizTalk knowledge to support and diagnose problems in a simple and easy way, freeing specialized resources for critical and advanced tasks.

BizTalk360-Message-Flow-ViewerBizTalk360-Message-Flow-Viewer-2

BizTalk360-Message-Flow-Viewer-3

Complexity abstraction of certain tasks

Due to several reasons, either for not having enough work to keep resources busy, thereby justifying not having a dedicated team or simply for financial reasons, few companies have a dedicated BizTalk administration team. This way organizations tend to group these administration tasks in a team with extended functionalities to various systems or platforms, such as system administrators, DBAs or even BizTalk.

One of the aims of BizTalk360 is to abstract the complexity of some of the main concepts, functionalities or operations we need to perform in BizTalk Server environments, thereby making it possible and easy to managed and supported BizTalk Server environments by people with a basic knowledge of BizTalk, but without necessarily having to be an expert.

Throttling Analyser

Another interesting feature of this tool is Throttling Analyser. With this feature, BizTalk360 abstracts us from the complexity that is analyzing these platform behaviors, allowing in an easy way and almost in real time, monitor environmental conditions, analyzing where are happening constraints and optimizing these settings without having a thorough knowledge about BizTalk Throttling, planning thereby its capabilities and SLA’s. By default, throttling data for the last 7 days are kept in history.

BizTalk360-Throttling-Analyser

Integration with Message Box Viewer (MVB)

Message Box Viewer or MBV is a major support tools from Microsoft to analyze your BizTalk Server environment (If you raise a call with Microsoft for any BizTalk environment issues, the first thing they’ll ask you to do is run MBV and act upon the report’s critical and non-critical errors). MBV retrieves information from a BizTalk System and identifies many possible issues, which could be critical or need attention, and presents them in a user friendly format. This tool is like the BizTalk Best Practices Analyzer (BPA) which is a health check tool that generates reports of a BizTalk System.

None of the others monitoring solutions like SCOM, HP Openview or even BizTalk360’s monitoring solutions will catch some of the scenarios raised by MBV, but instead of duplicating the efforts of Message Box Viewer in BizTalk360, MBV is deeply integrated with BizTalk360 and enhanced the benefits by offering the following things:

  • Ability to schedule MBV execution for BizTalk Environments
  • Reports readily available in the UI (as shown in the above picture)
  • Importantly! You can schedule alerts based on report. Ex: If critical errors more than 4, send a notification.

BizTalk360-MVB

BizTalk360-MVB-2

Tracking manager

One of important aspect of a middleware platform it’s the ability to track information flowing through the system, and being BizTalk Server a middleware, he includes tracking functionalities for the several BizTalk artifacts. However, tracking comes with a performance cost and it’s important we choose the best tracking strategy. BizTalk360 help us visualize this tracking settings at the applications level from a single location.

BizTalk360 tracking manager gives us and help us visualize a representation of our tracking configuration at application level from a single location, this will help administrators team to have a better insight because, instead of having to go to several places to see or configure these features, they can now visualize the tracking configuration easily.

BizTalk360-Tracking-manager

Dynamic topology diagram of your environment

Most BizTalk Server environments is composed of multi-servers, typically the minimum recommendation is to have two BizTalk Server and two SQL Server to support "high availability". It is extremely important that administration teams knows the topology of their platform and have easy access to changes that occur, typically the BizTalk environment topology diagram is drawn in Visio and stored somewhere internally in document a repository like SharePoint. And again, depending from organization to organization or in the size of the organization, there will be various environments like Production, Staging, Performance and so on, and it will be a time consuming task to keep the diagrams up to date… and also we need to ensure to give access to all team members and that all team elements are aware of where these documents.

BizTalk360, solves this problem by intelligently generating the topology diagram on the fly from your environment. This solves few issues

  • You don’t need to spend time generating topology diagrams in Visio.
  • Your diagram is always in Sync with the real environment, since its generated based on the current configuration.
  • The diagram is readily available on the tool you use to support, so you don’t need to hunt for them in your document repository.
  • Diagram got inbuilt zoom-in/zoom-out capability if your environment is complex (ex: 6 BizTalk server, 4 SQL Servers)

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Monitoring and Alert Notification capabilities

BizTalk360 allows us to monitor all kinds of resources associated with the different BizTalk Server infrastructure layers in which we can highlight:

Services and Applications

Allows us to monitoring HTTP address or external Web services codes for known errors (e.g. 200, 202, etc.).

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We can monitor the expected state (Started, Stopped, Enlisted, Un-enlisted, Enabled or Disabled) of orchestrations, send ports or receive locations.

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BizTalk360 also allow us to monitor processes. Process monitoring is designed to help customers tackle common scenarios, without any custom development, for example:

  • We expect to receive or send a certain amount of messages to or from a given environment. If this rule does not carry out, then there should be an implication in the business and someone needs to be notified.
  • Your trading partner sends you some files via FTP every day. If you receive the file, everything works smoothly, but what happens if there is a problem on your partner end (ex: some firewall patch) and you didn’t receive any messages from them for couple of days.
  • You may want to keep an eye on the sales threshold, for ex: you expect to receive certain volume of messages in your system every business day from your trading partner(s).

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Automatic monitoring of failures or violations, which allows us to control how these are reported to us, for example:

  • If it is an intermittent problem? If so wait 10 minutes before sending alerts;
  • Send only 5 alerts instead of 100 in the next 4 hours;
  • If someone fix the problem, we can also configure the system to notify us.

We can define this notifications to be sent by via email or SMS.

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BizTalk Server Platform

BizTalk360 allow us to monitoring the state of the Host Instances, SQL Jobs or NT Services. For each of them we can also define the state that is expected, this point for example is extremely useful to monitoring SQL job that comes with BizTalk, since it is not supposed to be all active (MessageBox_Message_Cleanup_BizTalkMsgBoxDb must be deactivated and shall be activated by the job MessageBox_Message_ManageRefCountLog_BizTalkMsgBoxDb).

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SQL Server and in particular "MessageBox" database are the heart of the BizTalk Server platform and it’s for this reason that Microsoft SQL Server usually comes as a “black box” when it comes to BizTalk Server, is something that we know exists, but we shouldn’t play around! BizTalk Server brings included a series of SQL jobs to perform its entire management: backups, cleaning and so on, that ensure the prefect functioning of the platform. In reality, and contrary to what many DBA use and do, the only way to ensure a full backup and enabling its trusted restoration is using these SQL Jobs and not other processes usually created for this functionality.

To ensure that all these activities, especially the backups are working properly, the BizTalk administration team or DBA needs to periodically monitor these Jobs. BizTalk360 help us solve all these challenges by providing mechanisms for monitoring and notifications:

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As well a “BizTalk Backup and Disaster Recovery" view panel that displays all the details in a simpler/graphical way.

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BizTalk360 also give us the ability to monitor the Service Instances status, allowing for example to define different levels of warning and/or error for the number of services instances with specific state (Suspended, Active, Scheduled etc) in applications. If the services instances count crosses the threshold a notification will be sent.

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Operation System

The ability to monitor the usage of CPU or memory consumption, allowing us to configure alert levels of error and/or warning on the amount of free memory or CPU consumption. For example send a notification if the free memory falls below the values set for a period of 30 minutes or if the consumption of the CPU is maintained above of the values defined during a period of time.

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And also the ability to monitoring event logs, allowing us to be able to configure various rules based on your requirements to different notifications, for example:

  • Trigger notification if the number of errors associated with BizTalk occurs more than 10 times in the last 30 minutes;
  • You can configure if there are 10 MSI installation events in the last 30 minutes then trigger notification.
  • Or whenever a host instance is started/stopped so many times in last 60 mins

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Server Hardware

Ability to monitor hard drives, allowing once again sending notifications if the free space on the disks reaches the defined values.BizTalk360-Server-Hardware