How real BizTalk monitoring problems are solved
In this article we have explained the purpose of BizTalk Server and highlighted why monitoring of BizTalk Server environments is hard.
Connecting systems with BizTalk Server
BizTalk Server is Microsoft’s middleware product that is used to connect systems with each other. The product is installed on-premises, so within your own network. Although the product is installed within your own network, that does not mean that with BizTalk Server you are bound to integrating systems that exist within your network. With its wide range of out-of-the-box adapters, you can connect to internal systems, external systems, SaaS solutions, and cloud offerings like Azure Serverless technologies.
Over the years, the product has become very mature and reliable. Its first version dates to the year 2000, but over the years we have seen many new versions of the product. With each version new features were brought, and Microsoft made sure that the product supported the latest versions of the operating system (Windows Server), the database platform (SQL Server), and the development environment (Visual Studio). Besides new versions, to fix bugs, of course Microsoft also released service packs and cumulative updates. The most recent version is Microsoft BizTalk Server 2020, which has been released in January 2020.
Why is monitoring BizTalk Server hard
Even though BizTalk Server is a very mature and reliable platform, there are also gaps in the product that are not addressed by Microsoft. Monitoring is such a gap. An average deployment of BizTalk Server contains many different run-time components. Many of those components can be managed by the BizTalk Server Administration console that comes with the product. However, to be aware of the state of other (vital) components, you need to rely on all sorts of other software tools. Think of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) for monitoring the database platform and all sorts of Windows Server tools.
To frequently be aware of the well-being of the run-time components and the transactions that are being processed by BizTalk Server, the administrator team should manually check all this, multiple times per day. Clearly, this can be a time-consuming task that interferes with the other responsibilities of the administrator team.
Manual or automated monitoring
Unfortunately, BizTalk Server does not come with any automation capabilities for monitoring the well-being of the BizTalk Server environment. So, by default, all the monitoring tasks must be done manually. As mentioned in the previous section, constantly monitoring the environment manually is time-consuming. That is why using a product to automate all those monitoring tasks is preferred. Not only because you will be pro-actively notified automatically when something unexpected is happening, but it also allows you to spend your business day on more useful tasks than constantly perform those manual monitoring tasks.
Efficiently monitor and administer BizTalk Server with BizTalk360
If you search on the internet for a monitoring product for BizTalk Server, you will probably run quickly into BizTalk360. This product is developed by UK/India based company Kovai.co. Around 2010, the founder of that company, Microsoft MVP Saravana Kumar, was a BizTalk consultant himself. During his BizTalk assignments, he identified several gaps in BizTalk Server that made operating and monitoring BizTalk Server environments hard. He started developing BizTalk360 and over the years he evolved the product to the mature and rich-featured product that it is today.
Introduction to BizTalk360
BizTalk360 is a modern web-based portal that supports all the recent BizTalk Server versions and gives safe and audited access to the BizTalk environment. The product has a deep focus on administering and monitoring of BizTalk Server environments. Besides that, it also provides all kinds of statistical information about the environment. Ever since its early versions, the product is evolving with 3 to 4 releases per year. Currently, the product has 80+ features and is used by 600+ customers in 30+ countries.
The product does not have a firm roadmap. Instead, its customers can provide their feedback on features and improvements they would like to see in the product. After that, the Development team investigates those requests, and identifies if it is feasible to implement the request in the product.
All in one portal
On a high level, the product is segregated in three sections, being Administration, Monitoring, and Analytics. The product has rich monitor capabilities to understand if the environment is healthy. This ranges from monitoring BizTalk ports and orchestrations, to Host instances, Host Throttling, server resources (Disk, CPU, Memory), and message processing. The product even has several auto-recovery options.
BizTalk360 also allows you to perform most of the day-to-day administrative tasks that BizTalk administrators typically must perform. You can even get all kind of statistics around the BizTalk environment. This could help in understanding if the environment is still scaled correctly.
Better security policies
Another gap that has been addressed in BizTalk360 is security. BizTalk Server has only 2 different user access policies; one is very powerful, while the other one is very limited. Due to the limited number of security policies, you cannot give somebody the exact access they require to the BizTalk Server Administration console that is required.
BizTalk360 addresses that issue by providing fine-grained user access policies. Furthermore, in BizTalk360, all operations against the BizTalk environment are audited. That way, you will always know who performed what action.
In this article we have explained the purpose of BizTalk Server and highlighted why monitoring of BizTalk Server environments is hard. We continued with explaining the disadvantages of manual monitoring of BizTalk environments and how using a monitoring product makes life of administrator teams easier. We suggested BizTalk360 as the one stop product for BizTalk Server administration, BizTalk monitoring and analytics. After that, we explained a couple of benefits of BizTalk360 over the BizTalk Server Administration console and manual monitoring.
Are you using BizTalk Server and is your team struggling with properly and efficiently administering and monitoring your BizTalk Server environments? The people behind BizTalk360 would be happy and proud to show you BizTalk360 and discuss how the product would help in making the life of your team easier. Feel free to check the BizTalk360 website, download a free trial, or request a demonstration of the product.
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