BizTalk Administrator Interview Questions and Answers (50 Q&A)

BizTalk Administrator Interview Questions and Answers (50 Q&A)


Introduction

This article gives the answers which can be posed in an interview in which you might apply for a BizTalk Administrator. The article with just the questions, can be found here: BizTalk Administrator Interview Questions.

Information

There should be no more then 50 questions on this page. This is to simplify the usage of this resources. If you have any other questions related to BizTalk we recommend that you join the MSDN forums.

Questions and Answers

  1. What jobs do you need to configure when you install BizTalk?
    After you have configured the jobs, don't forget to enable them!

  2. What are thresholds?
    From a BizTalk perspective, these are numeric values, which can be configured on your Hosts and host instances, and lead to Throttling situations once they are crossed.  See Microsoft BizTalk Automatic Throttling

  3. Why do you have automatic throttling states and what can it be used for?
    To warn the BizTalk Administrator that BizTalk is under stress or something abnormal is happening to the environment, these may only affect certain hosts or all hosts in the environment depending on the throttling state. See Microsoft BizTalk Automatic Throttling

  4. What does a “high available environment” mean?
    BizTalk can be configured in that it uses a Failover- or Load Balanced cluster. By doing so, BizTalk uses several physical or virtual machines to spread the workload. In case one of the machines goes down, BizTalk is still able to process workload on the other machine(s). See BizTalk Server: High Availability Survival Guide

  5. What is NLB?
    This stands for Network Load Balancing. It's one of the possibilities to make IIS high available on machines where BizTalk is installed. BizTalk itself however has its own load balacing. Again see BizTalk Server: High Availability Survival Guide

  6. What is Host Architecture?
    A Host Architecture describes how BizTalk uses Hosts and Host Instances for spreading its workload. Normally you have Hosts for Receiving messages, Processing orchestrations, Sending messages and Tracking completed messages. See BizTalk Server: Host Architecture

  7. How do you route messages by Receive Port name?
    By adding a filter on a Send Port, which points to that Receive Port. See what can go wrong: BizTalk Message Based Routing: why is my file not transferred to the location of the Send Port

  8. How do you measure performance for BizTalk?
    By using PerfMon and configure counters for CPU, Memory, I/O, Throttling. Besides using Perfmon, you can use tools like PAL, SQLIO, SQLProfiler, and IOMeter. See MSDN Tools for Measuring Performance and BizTalk Server: Performance Tuning & Optimization.

  9. Which are the four most important BizTalk databases?
    • BizTalkMgmtDb (contains the configuration of a BizTalk Group)
    • BizTalkMsgBox (contains the messages and work in progress)
    • BizTalkDTADb (contains information about the completed processes)
    • SSODb (contains credential information)
    See BizTalk database: Survival Guide

  10. What are the dangers of filters combined with Send Port Groups and multiple Send Ports?
    There is the risk that Send Ports which are also used in Send Port Groups, pick up the message multiple times, leading to the danger that the message is processed multiple times, where it should be processed only once.

  11. What needs to be backed up for a complete disaster recovery?
    Besides the databases, the Master Secret Key and all application and programs on the BizTalk Machine. See MSDN Planning for Disaster Recovery.

  12. What is an orphan message?
    An orphaned messages is a message that has completed and finished its processing in the BizTalk message box however the information of this is not updated in the tracking database and will hold space in the tracking database until manually deleted or updated.

  13. What is a zombie message? 
    A zombie messages is a messages that arrives after an orchestration has finished, and can no longer reference back to the orchestration of it origin, see MSDN Zombies in BizTalk Server.

  14. What is a DNS server?
    That's a Domain Name Server. It is a software component which is part of Windows Server and becomes used for looking up IP addresses by domain names. For more information see DNS Server.

  15. How can you improve performance for BizTalk?
    • Scaling up =>add better CPU's, more RAM in the current servers
    • Scaling out => add more servers, create Failover- and Load Balanced clusters, add MessageBoxes
    • Increase resources available for hosts
    • Locate problem integration and prevent possible build ups in the databases.
    See also TechNet Wiki article: Recommendations for Installing, Sizing, Deploying, and Maintaining a BizTalk Server Solution.

  16. What is meant by “parties”?
    A party is an entity outside of BizTalk Server that interacts with an orchestration. In BizTalk Server, each organization with which you exchange messages is represented by a party. You can define how the party interacts by enlisting it in a role. For more information, see Managing Parties.

  17. Which default adapters cannot run with 64 bit OS?
    • FTP-adapter
    • POP3-adapter
    • SQL-adapter
    See MSDN BizTalk Server 64-Bit Support (BizTalk 2010) or BizTalk Server 64-bit Support (BizTalk 2013).

  18. Which default adapters can only run with a single Host Instance? 
    All the adapters which lack a locking system, like FTP, POP3, and MSMQ. For a high available BizTalk Group these adapters need to be clustered. For more informations see MSDN Considerations for Running Adapter Handlers within a Clustered Host.

  19. What is TDDS?
    TDDS stands for Tracking Data Decode Service. This service is responsible for moving tracking event data from the BizTalk Server MessageBox database to the BizTalk Server tracking database and BAM is BAM is used.

  20. What are best practices for tracking in production?
    Just use it when it's absolutely necessary! Turn off any non-default tracked artifacts as soon as possible! It's a pain for your overall performance! See Best Practices for Message and Instance Data Tracking and Best Practices for Tracking.

  21. What is global tracking and what does it track when global tracking is on?
    Global Tracking is the general Tracking switch. If it's turned off, nothing will be tracked. If it's turned on, by default it tracks instances, in and out events for all pipelines. All application containing orchestration exported from Visual Studio will by default have all orchestration event tracking turned on, it's recommended to turn this off in any production environment. See MSDN How to Turn Off Global Tracking (BizTalk Server 2010), How to Turn Off Global Tracking (BizTalk Server 2013) and for previous versions see question 40.

  22. What is the difference between BizTalk 2009 and 2010?
    Much better mapper tool, support SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2. Better administration console. VS 2010(!) is used for development. See also MSDN New Features in BizTalk Server 2010. There have also been a lot of changes and all host settings have been transferred and moved into the administration console.

  23. What is a Cumulative update?
    One cumulative update package for Microsoft BizTalk Server and contains hotfixes for BizTalk Server, issues that were resolved after the release of a particular version of the BizTalk Server and includes all the component packages. Cumulative Update package take some minutes to install, and you'll need to restart the server after you apply the CU.

    The cumulative update should be installed on all servers that run BizTalk components.
    Important note: The cumulative update package updates only those components that are installed on the system. See List of Service Packs and Cumulative Updates available for BizTalk Server. In BizTalk 2013 the updates for BizTalk is pushed to regular updates, versions prior to this has to be downloaded and installed manually.

  24. How many BizTalk versions are there?
    Until now (August 2013), we've seen BizTalk 2000, BizTalk 2002, BizTalk 2004, BizTalk 2006, BizTalk 2006 R2, BizTalk 2009, BizTalk 2010 and BizTalk 2013. That makes 8 major versions! See BizTalk Versions

  25. What is the BizTalk Adapter Pack?
    The BizTalk Adapter Pack is a package which contains several adapters for LoB systems. adapters for SAP, Siebel and Oracle. See BizTalk Server Adapter Pack 2010.

  26. What is the ESB toolkit?
    The BizTalk ESB Toolkit provides architectural guidance, patterns, and a collection of BizTalk Server and .NET Framework components to simplify the development of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) on the Microsoft platform and to allow Microsoft customers to extend their own messaging and integration solutions. See BizTalk Server ESB:Survival Guide.

  27. What is required to install the SharePoint adapter in BizTalk 2010?
    BizTalk Server 2010 support the following SharePoint versions: SharePoint Services 2010, SharePoint Foundation 2010, WSS 3.0 with Service Pack 2 (SP2), and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1) (MOSS).
    One of this components must be installed because is required for using WSS Adapter. See BizTalk Server integration with SharePoint Server using WSS adapter.

  28. What is special about the BizTalk Backup job?
    It is special, because this job represents the only correct way to make backups from BizTalk, the job also performs a transactional backup so a restore will happen without having invalid and out of sync databases. See also Aspects of backup BizTalk Server

  29. Which SQL agent job came in BizTalk 2010?
    A job that monitors certain aspects of BizTalk Server which are mainly related to Message and Instance reference counts. See which aspects the job monitors exactly Monitor BizTalk Server

  30. Which tool was removed in BizTalk 2009?
    In BizTalk 2009 the HAT (Health and Activity Tracker) has been removed. Its functionality, track and display information relating to live and historical message data, is now available from the Group Hub. See MSDN Using the Group Hub Page.

  31. How does the BizTalk Administration Console cache applications?
    The BizTalk Administration Console maintains a local cache and when the administration console is opened it caches the entire configuration in one go. The refresh interval can be configured, default is 60 seconds. You can change this value, see MSDN How to Adjust the Configuration Cache Refresh Interval and Troubleshooting BizTalk Server Administration.

  32. How can you solve slow Administration Consoles?
    When administration console is slow then you need to check a few things concerning SQL Server like size of BizTalk databases, connectivity with SQL Server, or set the Recovery Mode of all BizTalk databases from Full to Simple (not recommended in production, see MSDN Recovery Models and Transaction Log Management on implications of this setting, you may also want to check the certificate Revocation List, you can read more here Common Issues and Resolutions with the BizTalk Server Administration Console.

  33. What should be included in a basic 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. See also: BizTalk Administrator: Guidelines

  34. What can you use the tracking database for?
    This database stores health monitoring data tracked by the BizTalk Server tracking engine.
    • It stores data of completed processes which comes from the MessageBox
    • It stores data of suspended/terminated processes which comes from the MessageBox
    • Can be used for report generation 
    • Can be used for monitoring
    • Can be used for analysis
    • Can be used for Orchestration debugging

  35. What is a trusted / un-trusted host? 
    BizTalk Server enables hosts identified as authentication trusted to indicate that the sender of a message that the trusted host is queuing to the MessageBox database is an entity other than the trusted host itself. The primary purposes of authentication trust are to enable pipelines to resolve to a Product ID (PID) and pass that PID along to consuming services for use in authorization and outbound party resolution, and to enable the transmission of the sender Windows Security ID (SSID) along to consuming services for use in orchestration action authorization. See BizTalk Hosts.

  36. What is MSMQ used for?
    MSMQ stands for Microsoft Message Queue. It's a queuing mechanism which comes out-of-the-box with Windows Server. Be aware that MSMQ lacks a locking mechanism and therefore has to be accessed from a single Host Instance. Use a Failover cluster to make this Host Instance high available.

  37. What is meant by dedicated hosts?
    When a BizTalk Group has Dedicated Hosts, it has Hosts which are dedicated for i.e. Receiving, Sending and Processing messages and orchestrations. See TNWiki article BizTalk Server: Host Architecture.

  38. Should the DTA Purge and Archive job be configured and running if you have global tracking turned off?
    Yes, even if Global Tracking is turned off, you should keep the DTA Purge and Archive job configured and running. The reason is that for each Terminated Instance a row wll be written in the tracking database. These rows need to be cleaned up by the job. See DTA Purge & Archive Job when Global Tracking is disabled.

  39. What has not been changed regarding hosts since BizTalk 2006?
    [Requires an answer]

  40. How do you turn off global tracking in BizTalk 2006 - 2006 R2?
    In BizTalk Server 2006/2006 R2 the Global Tracking can be turned off through a manual action in BizTalk Management Database, see this blog post: Turn off tracking globally in BizTalk Server 2006.

  41. What is the main difference between BAM and DTA?
    BAM (Business Activity Module) has a business driver, while DTA (Data Tracking Architecture) is used for Tracking purposes. With BAM Users can define Views and Notifications based on certain (Business) events. These views can be used from a SharePoint portal. This portal is also the place where Notifications are created.

  42. What is the use of taking a backup of the Master Secret Server Key?
    The Enterprise Single Sign-On master secret is stored in an encrypted registry key on the master secret server in the production site. The master secret should be restored to the disaster recovery site as a normal part of disaster recovery preparations. See MSDN How to Restore the Master Secret Server and BizTalk Server 2010: Enterprise SSO Survival Guide. Note that is vital that this key backup properly and somewhere where it can be accessed in case it need to be used to restore SSO. If this key is lost or password to protect is unavailable then it will lead to reconfiguring the BizTalk Group!

  43. What is the use of Enterprise Single Sign On?
    Enterprise Single Sign-On (ESSO) is an important component of BizTalk Server. ESSO is responsible for securely storing critical information such as secure configuration properties  for the BizTalk adapters. On each computer where BizTalk runtime is installed the ESSO is present. Typically ENTSSO is installed to: C:\Program Files\Common Files\Enterprise Single Sign-On. See BizTalk Server 2010: Enterprise SSO Survival Guide and MSDN Enterprise Single Sign-On.

  44. What is BTSNTSVC.exe.config  file?
    This is the configuration file for BTSNTSVC.exe, which runs as a Windows Service and is a Host Instance, information regarding the configuration of the hosts. See MSDN BTSNTSvc.exe.config File.

  45. What is difference between Dehydrated Orchestration and Suspended Orchestration?
    Dehydration is the process of serializing the state of an orchestration into a SQL Server database. Rehydration is the reverse of this process: deserializing the last running state of an orchestration from the database. See MSDN Orchestration Dehydration and Rehydration. When a failure occurs within an orchestration and no error handling is implemented it will be suspended. See MSDN Orchestration Failures.

  46. Importance of Strong Name and how it helps for administration?
    A strong name ensures that each assembly name is unique. Each assembly in your BizTalk project requires a strong name in order to deploy successfully. See also How to Configure a Strong Name Assembly Key File.

  47. What is the maximum size of message, BizTalk can process?
    While BizTalk Server imposes no restriction on message size, practical limits and dependencies might require you to minimize the size of your messages because large messages require more processing resources. See MSDN Message Considerations (BizTalk 2010/2013). For earlier BizTalk versions like 2004, see MSDN Blog Large messages in BizTalk 2004, what's the deal?.

  48. Why BizTalk MessageBoxDB MaxDOP value should be 1?
    DOP stands for Degree of Parallelism. BizTalk Server database queries are relatively small, and they execute quickly. Therefore, BizTalk Server database queries do not benefit from a Parallelism setting that specifies using more than one processor. Changing the Parallelism setting to specify using more than one processor may have an adverse effect on BizTalk Server database queries. See also The Parallelism setting for the instance of SQL Server when you configure BizTalk Server.

  49. How many host can we have?
    There is no rule about how many hosts you may have. However there are certain guidelines and its recommended to have hosts for the following
    • Receive Host : Used for all in process receiving
    • Processing Host : Used for all Orchestration
    • Isolated Host: Used for all IIS receiving
    • Send Host : Used for sending of messages
    • Tracking Host : Used for moving data from MessageBox to Tracking database   
    There may be more then one for each of these jobs depending on the workload and resource usage including host settings etc.

  50. Where can you locate configuration of your environment?
    You can locate configuration information both on the BizTalk machines and the BizTalkMgmtDb.

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.

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Comments
  • Content should be added.

  • I've started to enter rough edged answers to the questions. Please feel free to help answering the unanswered questions and provide more details on the rough edge answered questions!

  • Need more experts to make this article complete

  • That's a fact Naomi! I'm sure Steef-Jan, Sandro and hopefully the original author Tord will help. I also tweeted about the existence of this article, so maybe more community members are prepared to help! Meanwhile I'll try to answer most questions. It's just that it takes much time to answer all questions in a detailed manner.

  • I still have vacation but I'll update the article with answers asap... :-)

  • Looking forward Tord! Enjoy the rest of your Holiday!

  • I'll help out and answered a few already.

  • Thanks Steef-Jan, I noticed. We were actually editing the article at the same time!

  • Already update one question and I will try to response or update some more.

  • Steef-Jan Wiggers edited Revision 55. Comment: Added link question 27

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