Thursday, May 05, 2011

BizTalk 360 – sharing my experience

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Today i was notified about an excellent tool to view the stuff you can see in the administration console in a web based silverlight / pimped GUI.

Here some quick notes on my first experience as well as some pros- and cons.

Installation

As described on the documentation you have to perform some steps to get it working. BizTalk 360 is an IIS web application that is installed when you run the setup, additionally it will install a windows service that will monitor your environment.

1) Register and run the setup

2) Configure security

a) Application pool user should be a member of BizTalk Server Administrators / IIS_IUSRS / SSO Administrators

image

b) Is mixed authentication is disabled make sure you change the web.config to use integrated security

c) Add some grants on the db (suggestion, only do this when you run into problems)

  • GRANT SELECT ON dbo.adm_OtherDatabases TO BTS_ADMIN_USERS
  • GRANT SELECT ON dbo.adm_Server2HostMapping TO BTS_ADMIN_USERS
  • GRANT SELECT ON dbo.adm_ServiceClass TO BTS_ADMIN_USERS
  • GRANT SELECT ON dbo.BizTalkDbVersion TO BTS_ADMIN_USERS

3) Verify that the application pool is configured for .Net framework 4.0 (if configured for 2.0 you will get the error below when starting the application)

‘Error Occurred during initialization’

Error

See this page for additional throubleshooting tips

Usage

When you go to your environment you can basically view everything that you can on your BizTalk administration console, it allows for some quick overviews of an application (like when you click on configure) and drill down on artefacts like ports / hosts etc. In the screenshot below for example, you will see that apparently the application is not fully started…

App

Which brings me to the disadvantage, you can drill down and see everything, however you can not perform any action to enable this port, for this you have to go through the tab ‘Ports’ and enable the port. After you click on the ‘Home’ tab you would expect to see the updated results….nope, you have to click on ‘Refresh’, which gives a déjà vu feeling resembling the administration console (that where I got my F5 RSI thumb from).

It does has a lot of cool features and I suggest to take the feature tour.

Strengths

Platform overview

This tool lets you view your entire platform in a single overview, as well as the state of your environment, pretty cool stuff.

Platform

Viewing the Topology

Most of the BizTalk environments consists of multiple environments and every DTAP document has another variation on a visio sheet describing the topology. This tool comes up with a pretty cool dynamically discovered diagram!

Download

Governance

This part lets you see some (room for improvements) governance on your environment for example when are host instances started and stopped…perfect! At this time I thought I would do a test and stop the host instance outside of BizTalk 360, this was not noticed, but I’m sure that’s because it’s the CTP. Still this type of features are a great selling point.

Governance

Room for improvement

Here are some parts that have a lot of potential but should be (to my humble opinion) improved.

Advanced event viewer

The advanced event viewer gives a nice structured interface to build you event viewer filter

EventViewer

However, I could not see any data and when I ran the query I got this nice little fellow

 EventViewer_Error

Let’s say that this was my quick-and-dirty configuration mistake, or was caused by a glitch due to the fact it is an CTP.

 

Queries

This got my hopes up, I was hoping to see the powerful HAT query designer where you could get your hands dirty revived. However, this was a mere subset of the administration console query console. I’m not sure if I looked in the wrong place, but where is the button to save your carefully crafted query?!

 

Summary

I do think this is an awesome additional for the BizTalk community, it just looks like an app of the future. I think it has a lot of cool features to consider. The licensing information is not yet clear but I highly recommend to take a look at this tool.

 

Cheers,

Sander

1 comment:

BizTalk 360 said...

Hi Sander,

We accidentally bumped into your post. First of all thank you for taking your time to evaluate the CTP version of BizTalk 360 and writing a nice post about your experience.

We would like to clarify few things highlighted on this post

1. Governance.
BizTalk 360 can only monitor and audit activities that user performs within BizTalk 360. It doesn't look for external sources. Example: If someone got access to administration console and started/stopped host instances using admin console, then BizTalk 360 will not have any knowledge about the external changes. This is by design. The idea is to make people use BizTalk 360 to monitor and support production environments.

2. Query.
The save functionality is not there at the moment for V1, its in our pipeline to get it for our next release.

3. Advanced Event Viewer:
Advanced Event viewer depends on the healthy state of the background service. You need to make sure its running and there are no exceptions logged in the b360_ev_exceptions table in the database. Unfortunately for V1 CTP we don't have an interface to show this exceptions.

We highly recommend users to log their ideas, questions and problems at http://getsatisfaction.com/biztalk360, so we can act on them quickly.

Many Thanks,
-BizTalk 360 team