BizTalk360 a monitoring and support tool for BizTalk Server environments (Part 2)

Posted: December 24, 2012 in BizTalk
Tags: , , , ,
In which BizTalk360 differs from other tools?

The BizTalk Server Administration Console is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) and is the only tool included in the product that have the ability to manage and monitor, of course this is a very useful and powerful tool with many, many features allowing it to be used for just about everything we need to do on the platform:

  • Create, deploy, configure and manage BizTalk applications (Orchestrations, Role Links, Send port groups, Send ports, Receive ports, Receive locations, Policies, Schemas, Maps, Pipelines);
  • Create and configure Parties
  • Configure and manage BizTalk groups (you use the BizTalk Server group to represent a unit of organization – such as an enterprise, department, or hub – that requires a contained Microsoft BizTalk Server implementation.)
  • Add and configure adapters;
  • Create, configure and tracking Host and Host Instances;
  • Add, move or remove Servers that belong to the BizTalk Server group;
  • Managing MessageBox Databases;
  • Configure tracking mechanisms for virtually all artifacts or components in the platform (Orchestrations, Send Ports, Receive Ports, Policies, Schemas, Pipelines and so on);

We can and should use it to diagnose and resolve problems associated with BizTalk applications as well as monitoring partially the layers:

  • Services and Applications
  • And BizTalk Server Platform

But as the name indicates this is a tool with focus on administration and not monitoring, therefore is not ideal to use this tool for monitoring the platform as a whole and also there are several gaps in this tool for the latter to become the tool of choice for monitoring this platform in your organization, such as:

  1. The lack of access restrictions definition to certain resources or operations, e.g.:
    1. Read-only access to a particular Group or User Accounts or restrict them to view and/or manage certain applications; restrict that particular group to view private messages; or even not allow access or view the settings of the infrastructure (Host, Host instances, adapters , …) to the support group.
    2. The lack of auditing processes, example: Who did what: Who stopped a specific port? Who stopped or started a particular Host Instances? Who has suspended this service instance?
    3. The ability to view the topology of their environments in real time.
  2. Another important limitation is that this tool has no web interface, this mean that you need to give remote desktop access to your users in your production environment machines in order to them have access and used this tool, which not all organizations allow! In my personal experience and opinion, almost no organization allows this type of access to their production environments.

We can also monitor BizTalk Server platform as a whole using robust monitoring tools like System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). SCOM is used to monitor the health and performance of everything from servers to individual applications in Microsoft Windows environments, it is a comprehensive IT infrastructure, virtualization, and cloud management platform that allows you to easily and efficiently manage your applications and services across multiple hypervisors as well as across public and private cloud infrastructures to deliver flexible and cost-effective IT services for your business. It provides a unified management toolset for your applications and services.

However use only SCOM to monitor BizTalk platform can become extremely expensive for medium enterprises (or midsize companies) and in my opinion even for some large companies. This because the learning curve to use this tool is high, why? This tool is too complete, comprehensive and complex and for that it requires highly skilled people. Beyond the need for specialized resources it also requires a large investment in hardware and software since SCOM can monitor any Microsoft product, Azure or even third-party products. It would also be a waste of resources to just use SCOM to monitor a BizTalk Server platform.

Another tool that we can use to monitor is BAM Portal. We can monitor messages or business process by using Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). It provides visibility on business processes by tracking process milestones and business data (KPIs) allowing business analysts, developers, information workers and decision makers to monitor and gain insight on the current health and analyze data about in-flight processes they are responsible for. By using BAM, users can get information about business state, trends, and critical conditions… however we cannot use this tool to monitor our environment.

Saravana Kumar used the experience gained over many years as a BizTalk consultant in several clients to create the tool BizTalk360 (http://www.biztalk360.com) that addresses the above issues and many more, filling almost all the gaps left by Microsoft in the area of ​​support and monitoring BizTalk Server in an incredibly simple and intuitive way, thus fulfilling the most common needs of clients and at the same time radically reducing the learning curve required to use this tool compared to tools like SCOM.

BizTalk360-dashboard

There are several features that this tool gives us, however we can highlight the following as its key features:

  • It is a web application (RIA – Rich Internet Application), which unlike the BizTalk Server administration console in which we need access to BizTalk environments, allows us to access from anywhere;
  • Advanced capabilities for managing access permissions to various resources (artefacts) of BizTalk Server;
  • Possibility of conducting audit at all levels, messages and events;
  • Availability of dashboards for monitoring very comprehensive and detailed that cover the most common needs;
  • Monitoring capabilities of the most varied resources and proactive notification;
  • Integration with BAM Portal, Message Box Viewer and other tools like HP Operation Manager Integration;
  • Multi-environment support and provides the capability to configure all BizTalk environments through a single location;
  • Knowledge base Repository;
  • Advanced event viewer and many more.

We can and should use BizTalk360 to monitoring the following layers:

  • Services and Applications
  • BizTalk Server Platform

And partially layers, this tool enables to monitor the most common and basic resources, of:

  • Server Hardware
  • Infra-structure
  • Operation System

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