BizTalk Administrator: Guidelines

BizTalk Administrator: Guidelines

What is a BizTalk guideline

A BizTalk guideline will give you the benefits of having the availability to improve stability, optimize the work flow for BizTalk and keep a track of information regarding your environment, and the way these things work at your company. This will make it easier for new people coming in working for or at your company to understand how BizTalk works at your company.

What the guidelines for your company should contain is all up to what you need. You need to keep information regarding routines, setup, configuration, backup routines etc. So all knowledge regarding the company structure for BizTalk is saved and stored whenever someone quits or for instance hiring a consultant. The guidelines can also provide values needed to improve the communication between developers and administrators.

 A few important notes about a guideline:

  • Keep the names of your colleagues out of the framework, they might not work there tomorrow!
  • If you are unsure on how to establish a guideline ask someone or hire a knowledgeable BizTalk consultant to create one for you

First you need to determine what kind of integrations you have, do you need “100%” up time, or is it okay if you turn them off for a couple hours, maybe during night, or weekends? You need to take this to consideration when you want to complete a framework for BizTalk.

  • Do you have a local development office, or do you order them off-site?
  • What demands can you set?
  • What are your current requirements?
  • How are you working at your company
  • Are you currently using PowerShell to implement new integrations, or are you doing it manually?
  • What kind of environments do you have?, (Development, QA, Deployment Server, Production etc.)

The content of the guidelines

Let's start talking about the content of the guidelines, you can have this in either a word document, online on a Wiki or any similar platform. Remember to keep it as a live document, whenever changes are done in your environment, new guidelines, or even a new host. Update the framework immediately.

Environments

Define all the environment you have. Add information about them. Access rights, firewall settings. Also defines the amount of servers, clustering, and filename. What are running on the different servers, which one has the responsibility of what tasks, for instance the clustered server might be running as active / active hosting the tracking host (not clustered) and the host for POP3, FTP receive as clustered hosts. Remember to also add information regarding hardware of the servers, CPU, Cores, RAM, 64bit of 32bit environment.

Example:
Development Environment
– Not reachable for BizTalk Administrators
This is the environment where the development takes part; this is where only the developers have access.
Pre-installation environment – Not reachable for developers
Will the integration install successfully, or will it fail during installations, this is a clean environment, running this on VMware or Hyper-V
Test environment – Not reachable for developers
This is where you do a full scale test of the integrations, test messages and “stress testing” should be done here.
Production environment – Not reachable for developers
Little or less needs to be said about this environment. Its production.

Change Log

Remember to update the change log according to the changes in the document, what have been changed, when and by who.

Purpose

What is the purpose of this guideline? How will this benefit your company?

Prerequisites

What do you need in order to make sure this document can and will be followed, except from a BizTalk environment, do you need and other departments to follow this framework or approve this framework. Get down information regarding this.

Responsibilities

Many have the BizTalk administrators divided into doing different tasks; one may have the responsibility of taking care of new integrations, error handling, health checking and so on. Describe all the different tasks that needs to be done (keep names out of the document since people tend to change jobs every now and then)

Describe the tasks in full detail, example of tasks:

  • BizTalk Integrations follow ups
  • Error handling
  • Installing new integrations
  • health checking
  • monitoring
  • etc

New applications

What are the routines with new integrations. What check lists needs to be settled and confirmed when they come from development, how long is the testing phase, do you have test files for a test scenario, who is performing the testing at QA, what are the routines for deployment, and do it go through a deployment server to verify the installation? What are the routines when it comes to verifying the right hosts and so on. Write down all steps when it comes to new applications that are supposed to end up in the production environment.

Changes to existing integrations

What do you need to take into consideration when it comes to replacing/updating existing applications? Do you install it before deleting the old one, what do you need to be aware off, is it a business critical application or can it be down for 15 minutes? Explain all routines regarding the replacement or updates for new applications. Routines regarding versioning should also be covered here.

  • Handover Procedures: Define the procedures you have when it comes to handover of new application, creating a good communication foundation between administrators and developers.
    • Delivery of the integrations from development to management: Describe in depth what you requirements are for all integrations handed over from development to management.
    • Documentation requirements: Do you have documentation requirements, where can they be located?
    • Checklists: When a new integrations comes in, do you have a checklist the integrations must pass before you can install it in production? If not make one, and follow it!
    • Quality assurance of new integrations: How can you as a BizTalk administrator give assurance to the users of the integration that it fulfills the requirements you have, and they expect?
    • Approval of new integrations: How do you approve new integrations when they come from development, do you update any document, verify and document etc.
    • Internal testing of new integrations: How do you test the integrations, what tools are you using, are you manipulating messages to see the affect it has, do you let the developers test?

Maintenance hours
When can you perform maintenance to your environment at what time is the best time. Provide information regarding this here.

BizTalk Hosts

Document all your hosts, write down the naming convention and keep it updated.

Example:

ReceiveHost64
This is a receive host running 64-bit. This host has the responsibility of all files and is running on all the servers at the same time.
IsolatedHost
This is an isolated host, this host is only running on server1 and server2, these two servers are clustered. This host only runs WCF receive locations.
OrchestrationsHost
This is by default a 64-bit host at hour environments. These hosts run on all the servers and have the responsibility to do the orchestrations of all integrations.

And so on…
Read more about naming convention for BizTalk here.

Installation Guide for BizTalk Server

How do you install BizTalk servers at your company, do you have special requirements for hardware, do you have special requirements for where the SSO should be and how the MSSQL should be setup. What are the security issues, how does the firewall act etc.

Roadmap for BizTalk

This category has 2 sub categories

Current goal / target


Describe what current target for the environment you have now, what are the means, how will you continue to improve it.

Future goal / target

When, why and how are you planning to either expand, upgrade to a new version, this is the section where you should discuss this.

Web services

What are the rules when it comes to web services at your company and when they are hosted by BizTalk? Include information regarding security and similar elements that is important when it comes to web services you use.

Troubleshooting

How do you troubleshoot, there are a few sub categories here, you can add more if you need them.

Deviation Handling

Describe the routines regarding deviation, errors that are happening, what are the routines, who do you contact when for example BizTalk has a stop or similar, do you send emails, register them in some ITIL product or any other ways?

What defines a deviation?

So for many a deviation is when something is not working as it should, describe when routines regarding deviation should be acted upon.

Errors

Describe the procedures when you have errors in the environment. Link to a Wiki or any other documents you might have that is more related to the specific application or error message.

Residual error

Errors that do occur every now and then. But if you receive the same error over and over again, what are the routines regarding this. How can this be solved when you are going back to the developer with that application? If an error messages are building up the MessageBox, will the desired affect for a scenario like that make you suspend the entire application to prevent a complete stop in BizTalk.

Many suspended messages

Too many suspended message can affect BizTalk and make it perform slower, what are the actions when a scenario like this appears.

Too many active messages

Same as the scenario above, this might happen and can also affect BizTalk performance.

Orphaned messages

What are your routines on orphaned messages, this is a known issue. How do you check for them and how often? When do you remove them?

 

Patching (Microsoft security patch and BizTalk patching)

How is patching being done at your company, what are routines, when is patching performed, what environment goes first and what are tested after an update

Health Check

How often do you perform health checks of your environment and who performs them, what tools are you using to perform the health checking.

How to perform a health check

Automatic monitoring

How do you monitor BizTalk, do you have programs, are you using any third-party programs, supply links and other information regarding automatic monitoring? Examples would be BizTalk360SCOM etc.

BizTalk Monitoring tools

Manual Monitoring

What is your manual routines for monitoring, performance counters, databases, running MessageBox Viewer, checking the hub?

Versioning

What are the routines when it comes to versioning of applications, resources and other BizTalk artifacts?

See Also

Read suggested related topics:

Another important place to find a huge amount of BizTalk related articles is the TechNet Wiki itself. The best entry point is BizTalk Server Resources on the TechNet Wiki.
Sort by: Published Date | Most Recent | Most Useful
Comments
  • Again job!!!

  • Great article Tord. The funny thing is I currently work in a multi disciplined team. We all have our own specialities, but we also have more or less the same base. The advantage is that in many cases, we can replace each other.

  • So true Lex! Thanks for the good feedback!

  • Awesome article.

  • Great article

Page 1 of 1 (5 items)