User Access Profiles can now be customized

User Access Profiles can now be customized

A few more days to go for the release of our new version, BizTalk360 v8.9.5. Release by release, we aim at improving the user experience by adding new features and enhancing the existing features as per the suggestions and feedback received from our customers. The feedback can be posted in our User Voice portal http://feedback.biztalk360.com. There, customers can vote for the posted suggestions if they feel that the ideas also fit into their business requirements. These suggestions will be taken up for development based on the priority of voting.

There have been quite a few features and enhancements added in this release. Let’s look at one of the features which got the attention of many customers and that we thought it would ease the users in their business operations while using BizTalk360. So come on, lets jump in!

User Access Policies

After the installation of BizTalk360 and activation of the license, the next thing the user would do is to create the users, groups and provide access to the BizTalk360 features in the User Access Policy section. This is available only for providing access to the features in BizTalk360 and not for BizTalk level access. The importance of this feature can be known from the article User Access Policy.

In our previous version, BizTalk360 v8.9, this feature was enhanced to configure different rules for providing access to the existing as well as newly created BizTalk applications for the users. Get to know about the different rules here “User Access Policy – The New Look for Application Access”.

As part of this enhancement, we have introduced the concept of the Application groups for grouping the applications of similar category and provide users the access to the Application groups. So, any new application created, when added to such an Application Group will be automatically given access to the users.

Now there is an additional feature of managing custom User Access templates, which is described in the later part of this article.

As part of this enhancement, the user management, application groups and the custom templates must be managed in different sections. This has been done to avoid confusion to the users. Hence, the existing look of the User Access Policy section has been modified as below.

Manage Application groups

The application groups can now be managed in a separate section. Here, the application groups can be created, modified or deleted. Now it would be easy for customers to create application groups and manage them from a single section rather than moving between the screens.

Manage Users

This section remains the same as in previous versions, where the users and NT groups can be created, modified or deleted. Modification has been done in the Add permissions section for the normal users to include the custom profile templates newly created.

The Profile Templates

Keeping in mind the level of security needed for accessing the features and performing the operations with the BizTalk environment, we have the fine-grained authorization within BizTalk360. When a new user is created, the permissions to the BizTalk360 features can be selected from the list of features under each section and saved to the user profile. When the new user logs in to BizTalk360, he can only use the features which are added to his profile.

In the earlier versions, the features were selected from the list available or from the predefined templates available. These predefined templates come as part of the installation. There are three predefined templates available:

  • View only modules – Choosing this template will provide read-only access to few features in BizTalk360. This will be helpful for the Level 1 support team
  • Limited operation access – This provides access for the users to operate on Host Instance, applications and service instances
  • Full access to all modules – As the name implies, the user will have access to all the features when this template is chosen

As per the feedback received from the customer, we have added the new capability to create custom templates and select them for providing access to the users.

How do the custom templates help?

Consider a scenario, where the customer would need to provide similar permissions to multiple users. This can be done by creating a group and applying the profile to the group account. But what if we need to make some minor changes to some of the users. It would be very difficult to make changes for some users within the group.

With the help of a custom profile template, this can be made in a single click. You can create a custom template with the desired features selected and choose the template while creating the users. Won’t this be an easy and quick way of configuring permissions to the users? Yes, of course!

The creation of custom templates is also done very quickly. The custom template can be created by providing a name to the template and selecting the features to be added to the template. With this feature, for each custom template, you can select permissions and store them as a custom template.

This would be similar to the Add permissions section in the user creation, but the only difference being the selected features can be saved to a template and used later in creating different users. The predefined templates would be suffixed with System Predefined in the name.

With the custom profile templates, the user creation is made much easier. The customer need not scroll through the entire list of features while creating users.

Conclusion

We always monitor the feedback portal and take up the suggestions and feedback. Now we would like to request you, our customers, to please take the time to fill this questionnaire to help us prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks, to let us know what are your main pain points and help us to further improve the product.

Why not give BizTalk360 a try! It takes about 10 minutes to install on your BizTalk environments and you can witness and check the security and productivity of your own BizTalk Environments. Get started with the free 30 days trial. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

Analytics Widgets – What more can be done

Analytics Widgets – What more can be done

Introduction

In a data-driven business setup, there will be scenarios where critical executive decisions are made based on the performance reports of various components of the listed servers in their environment. BizTalk360 aims to offer an out of the box tool with similar capabilities as the Performance Monitor tool in Windows servers.

BizTalk360 Analytics offers visual display of the most important performance counters that are consolidated and arranged on a single screen, so that the information can be monitored in a glance. Custom reports can be built in minutes with the metrics that really count for your business, and they’re easy to share with other users in the system. In addition, dashboards can give you a summary of many reports on a single page, using drag-and-drop widgets for fast, easy customization.

The Analytics feature is available only to the Platinum licensed BizTalk360 environments. By default, the Analytics service is installed with BizTalk360 and in non-Platinum environments, users can only view sample analytics data.

The Analytics Widgets

It is with the Dashboard widgets that all the performance related information can be seen in a nice graphical display. In the Analytics section, there is also the reporting capability added, where the reports can be sent as attachment in emails.

In this blog I am going to explain a few scenarios where the Analytics widgets are more helpful. Let’s move on.

Customer Scenarios

The Analytics Dashboard contains lot of widgets that provide you detailed information of the performance of your BizTalk environment.

For example, the BizTalk Host Performance widget will help you to get the information of the top performing hosts in the BizTalk environment. The BizTalk messaging performance gives you the picture of the message count and average execution time of the total messages transferred during the configured datetime range.

Date Range – Select the date range for chart. The options are Last 24 hrs, Last 7 days, Last 30 days and Custom:

  • Last 24 Hrs – Displays the data from last 24 hours
  • Last 7 days – Displays the data from last 7 days
  • Last 30 days – Displays the data from last 30 days
  • Custom – To add a specific number of days, use the scroller to select the day

Based on the selected date range, the performance data gets collected from the BizTalk servers.

The other basic widgets include the Message volume and the Transmission failure rate widgets.

Lot more to do with Custom widgets

Don’t just stop with the basic widgets in the Analytics section; there is lot more to do with the Custom widgets.

Once the Analytics components, for which the data needs to be collected, are enabled, the different artifacts for the Custom widgets will get enabled. With the Custom widgets you can chose different metrics for which you want to view the data.

Let’s take a few scenarios to understand what we can achieve with the Custom widgets.

Comparing two BizTalk servers’ performances

There is a scenario where you would like to compare the performance of two BizTalk servers and see which one consumes more memory and CPU. This can be done by selecting the servers in the artifact section and corresponding metrics.

Get the message count for specific port

Of course, the count of messages passing through the port can be determined through process monitoring. But it will be checked with specific time intervals either in hours or minutes. But, what if you want to see the count instantly within the specific datetime range. Here comes the Custom widget, with which you can get the count of specific ports.

But to get these data, Tracking needs to be enabled for the ports. Based on the enabled tracking data collection counters, the data gets collected by the BizTalk360 Analytics service using the performance counters.

Failure rate of a port

Also, the failure rate of a particular port, running a specific host instance, can be determined with the help of a Custom widget. This would include the failure rate for the port and the number of instances running for that particular host. With the combination of these two metrics, the failure rate of a port can be determined and displayed in a nice graphical view.

Checking the MessageBoxDb

There are also counters for checking the MessageBoxDB. The key performance indicators of the message box database which includes the spool size and the status of the pending jobs, can be visualised with the widgets.

BizTalk Host Details

We do have certain metrics like Host Queue Length, number of instances and suspended instances for the particular hosts, which can be obtained from the custom widgets.

Above mentioned are the very few scenarios that can be achieved using the widgets. With the different combinations of the metrics, all performance related information can be obtained through the Analytics widgets.

Conclusion

Do you wish to see more information on the widgets or from the product itself, please put in your suggestions and feedback in our user voice portal https://feedback.biztalk360.com/. The existing ideas can also be voted for. We at BizTalk360 aim at providing the features that fulfill the customer requirements. It is from this feedback portal that the features get picked up for every release.

For more information about how these widgets work, check our Documentation portal.

Happy monitoring with BizTalk360 😊

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

It’s time to upgrade – Here is BizTalk360 v8.9

It’s time to upgrade – Here is BizTalk360 v8.9

Hi there! It’s time to upgrade your BizTalk360 installation! We are here with our next release of BizTalk360, v8.9. As promised, this release also comes up with a bunch of exciting new features, enhancements and of course some bug fixes.

The series of blogs, explaining the different features coming up in v8.9, have already been released. But, to make it easy for our customers, we thought it would be nice to give a brief description of all these features in a single place. This way it would be easy to get the real big picture of this new release.

As per the below quotes,

The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them- preferably in unexpected and helpful ways

                                                                                                                  – Richard Branson

The features are added to the product based on the customer feedback and suggestions. We understand the customer needs and add them to the product to make the product as suitable as possible for the user. 

Come on, let’s jump in to get the list!

User Access Policy enhancements

In the User Access Policy section, the Application access section has new capabilities. Initially, it was a list of applications which needed to be checked for providing access to the Normal Users/Groups. But then, what about the newly deployed applications? Every time when a new application was deployed, the Admin would need to scroll down the entire list to check for the new applications and then provide access. This was very time-consuming.
Now, to ease the process, we have provided different rules for configuring the access. But then, only one rule can be applied at a time. The different rules include:

  • Grant Access by Applications
  • Grant Access to All Applications
  • Wildcard Search
  • Grant Access to Application groups

Grant Access to All Applications

As the name denotes, enabling this rule will provide access to all the available applications for the Normal Users/Groups. The user will automatically be granted access to all the newly deployed applications.

Wildcard Search

This enables users to select the options from the wildcard operator drop down. Once this rule is configured, the user will have access to all the applications matching this wildcard. The user will automatically be given access to the newly created applications that match the wildcard.

Grant Access to Application Groups

With this new capability, you can create Application Groups and map the applications to that group. Once the user is given access to the Application group, he/she can access all the applications which are mapped to that group.

Grant Access by Applications

For persisting the existing configuration data, we have another rule available: ‘Grant Access by Application’.  Once the upgrade is completed, this will be the default rule which is selected for existing users. The only difference between this configuration and the other new rules, is that when Grant Access by Applications is configured, newly applications created will not automatically be given access as in the other rules.

Stop Alerts for Maintenance during business holidays

If a user sets up multiple maintenance windows, they need to configure the business holidays individually. It will take much of your time, to configure them for every single environment in BizTalk360. To reduce the time and ease the maintenance configuration for the users, the capability to add business holiday calendars has been introduced.

These business holiday calendars can be mapped during maintenance window setup. This new configuration section is introduced in the Monitoring Notification settings section as “Configure Business Holidays”.

In the Stop Alerts for Maintenance settings page, a new section is introduced to configure the business holiday calendars. All the configured calendars with Status enabled will be displayed in the “Select Business Holiday Calendar” drop down list. A user can select the desired calendar and use it for a maintenance window. During the business holiday, a maintenance window will be active.

The users can also exclude certain alarms during the maintenance. This means, that, except the selected alarms, other alarms will undergo maintenance. This capability is very useful in situations where administrators don’t want to receive alerts during the weekends except for few specific alarms.

Web Endpoint monitoring improvements

From 8.9 version on, BizTalk360 Web Endpoint authentication is extended to support:

Let’s have a look at the improvements in these areas.

Basic Access Authentication

This is a method for an HTTP user agent to provide a user name and password when making a request. To unauthenticated requests, the server should return a response whose header contains a HTTP 401 Unauthorized status and a WWW-Authenticate field. In the BizTalk Admin Console, an HTTP endpoint can provision Basic authentication with a username and password

Certificate Authentication

In BizTalk360, the authentication type of Basic or Windows, along with the client certificate thumbprint, is configured in the Authorization section of Web Endpoint monitoring.  

Azure Services Authentication

To be able to use Azure Services Authentication, a Service Principal must be configured in Azure. A Service Principal is an application within Azure Active Directory whose authentication tokens can be used as the client Id, client secret, and tenant fields (the subscription can be independently recovered from your Azure account details).

Additional content types

BizTalk360 8.9 extends the support to additional content types in request and response objects:

  1. SOAP (1.2) Content Type – “application/soap+XML” is a SOAP 1.2 content type which is added to the list. With this additional content type, SOAP V1.2 protocol is supported in web endpoint monitoring. The user can configure the XPath conditions to monitor the SOAP 1.2 endpoints, based on the results of the execution.
  2. Custom Content Type – When Endpoint Request/Response content types are not supported by BizTalk360, the Web Endpoint throws a HTTP 415 Unsupported Media Type. To prevent this from happening, you can configure Custom Content types. 

Extended Import/Export Configuration

In version 8.9, we added support for import and export of the following sections:

  1. Knowledge Base
    • Service Instances
    • ESB Exceptions
    • Event Logs
    • Throttling Data
  2. BizTalk Reports
  3.  Dashboards
    • Operation (Default & Custom Dashboards)
    • Analytics (Default & Custom Dashboards)
    • EDI Dashboards
    • ESB Dashboards
  4. Custom Widgets

The details of this feature can be found here.

Additional columns filter capability

Grid columns in BizTalk360 are getting a fresh look. You can customize the column headers which are most important to your business scenario.

Grid columns can be dynamically removed or added based on the user preference. As per the settings in the configuration section, columns will be aligned and displayed in the grid view. These customized column settings can be saved for future reference as well. We are sure, this capability will add more value when the administrator is looking for the instances/messages based on various conditions.

As an initial phase, this implementation has been done in the following areas in BizTalk360:

  1. Message Box Queries
  2. Graphical Flow (Tracking)
  3. Electronic Data Interchange

BizTalk360 allows saving as many patterns as the user wants. To search the messages based on different scenarios, admins prefer different filter conditions to validate. In those situations, BizTalk360 allows to save different query filters and keeps them for future use. You can also download the customized column data using the Export to Excel capability.

Centralized Advanced Event Log viewer performance improvement

In our previous versions, up to v8.8, Event Log collection logic is not segregated based per server. To enable the Event Log collection, it is bound to the BizTalk environment and not on an individual server level. However, the user has control on configuring the sources based on the need.

In the new version of BizTalk360, users can control the Event Log collection according to individual servers. As an administrator, you know the value of each source which needs most considerations. So, there is an option as well in BizTalk360 to configure the BizTalk & SQL server sources separately.

Using these settings, you can customize and narrow down your Event Log search.



PowerShell Notification Channel

In our earlier versions, the users were already able to send notifications to specific notification channels (E.g.: Slack, ServiceNow, Webhook, Teams). Now the user can configure PowerShell scripts in the Notification Channel while configuring an alarm.

More Enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.9

Besides the above mentioned features, we have also brought a number of enhancements to existing features.

Monitor queues for message age – We have enhanced the option to monitor the queues with message ages (time of message till it exists in the queue) for IBM MQ and Service Bus Queues.

Notifications grouped by Error Description – Previously, Service instances were grouped by Error Code in the alert emails. Now, there is a new setting “Enable Group by Description” introduced to group the service instances based on the Error Description to get full insight about your errored service instances.

New filter option in ESB Exception portal – There is a new filter option “Service Name” introduced in the ESB Exception Data query builder. This will enable users to perform extensive search and get the desired results.

Restore XSLT templates – Whenever we make any improvements to the default email template there is no option for the users to restore the changes from the GUI. This makes them to manually copy/paste the XSLT from the database to utilize the new changes. To avoid the manual intervention, a new option has been provided “Restore System XSLT” to restore the changes from GUI.

PDF download available in more areas – PDF download capability is not new in BizTalk360. We have provided this option in few other areas of the application, to download the reports, dashboards and message flows from the GUI. This option is provided in Operation, Monitoring & Analytics Dashboards, Graphical Flow (Tracking) and Messaging Patterns.

Group your Logic Apps by and monitor on Resource Groups – In the earlier versions, Logic Apps are not grouped by Resource Group name. There was an issue to display the Logic Apps which are created in different Resource Groups with the same name. With the introduction of “Resource Group” column, Logic Apps are grouped by Resource Group in every single configured Azure subscription.

Multiple installer improvements – We have enhanced the BizTalk360 installer in v8.9 in few areas:

  • Single credentials during upgrade – Only one set of credentials (User Name, Password) will be asked during the upgrade process, in case the same credentials have been used for all the installed components
  • SQL Authentication – BizTalk360 will now support SQL Authentication for upgrade

Finally, of course, they are a number of bug fixes as well. Kindly refer the Release Notes for the complete details.

Conclusion

We always monitor the feedback portal and take up the suggestions and feedback. Now we would like to request you, our customers, to please take the time to fill this questionnaire to help us prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks, to let us know what are your main pain points and help us to further improve the product.

Why not give BizTalk360 a try! It takes about 10 minutes to install on your BizTalk environments and you can witness and check the security and productivity of your own BizTalk Environments. Get started with the free 30 days trial. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

User Access Policy – The New Look for Application Access

User Access Policy – The New Look for Application Access

We are super excited to welcome our new release version of BizTalk360, v8.9. There has already been a series of blogs explaining the features coming up in the release. Here is another such blog which explains the enhancements done in the User Access Policy section in v8.9.

User Access Policy is one important feature in BizTalk360, where you can provide access to certain applications in your BizTalk environment to Normal Users and NT groups. This is not available at the BizTalk server level. The importance of this feature can be read here “Why did we build User Access Policy to Manage BizTalk Server Security?

Customer Feedback getting answered

In BizTalk360, we aim at improving the product and adding new features based on the customer feedback and business scenarios. The Feedback portal is one such platform for the customers to provide their suggestions on which can be voted by other customers, if they feel that these ideas fit in their business requirements as well. It’s based on the priority of voting the features and enhancements before getting picked up for development. One such feedback was the access to newly created BizTalk applications.

Hence, in the new release we thought of giving a fresh coat of paint to this feature, based on the feedback we received.

What’s New in User Access Policy

BizTalk360 supports management of multiple BizTalk Server environment from a single console. So, you can set up security and access rights from a single place. You can either configure security for individuals or as team (ex: Create an NT Group called “BizTalk Production Support”).

Now here comes the twist on the Application access. For your information, the rest all remains the same.

In earlier versions, it was a simple grid displaying all the available applications in a BizTalk environment and you can select the applications to provide access to Normal Users/Groups. But now we have slightly modified this, to provide multiple options for providing access to the applications. This would surely be more user friendly and of course meet the requirements. The different options include:

  • Grant Access by Applications
  • Grant Access to all Applications
  • Wildcard Search
  • Grant Access to Application Groups

Only one rule can be applied at a time. This holds for both users and groups. We shall have a detailed look at each one of them.

Grant Access to All Applications

As the name denotes, enabling this rule will provide access to all the available applications for the Normal Users/Groups. This will be similar to the permissions of the Super User who will have access to all applications.

Note: The user will automatically be granted access to all the newly created applications. The user doesn’t need to scroll down the complete list, to select the newly created application and provide access. The extra burden to check for the new applications is now reduced.

Wildcard Search

This is the new capability introduced in this release. It enables users to select the options from the wildcard operator drop down.

With the four options that are available in the Wildcard search, the user can select the required option and provide the search value. Once this rule is configured, the user will have access to all the applications matching this wildcard.  The user will automatically be given access to the newly created applications that match the wildcard.

This will save a lot of time because in a business scenario, the applications will be named based on specific activity and it would be easy for the admins to select the appropriate wildcard option and provide access. This would be quite interesting and easy option for configuring access to these applications.

Grant Access to Application Groups

We know about the BizTalk Group. But what is this Application Group? Sounds new, isn’t it? Yes, it is new to BizTalk360. With this new capability, you can create Application Groups and map the applications to that group. Once the user is given access to the Application group, he can access all the applications mapped to that group.

The Concept of Application Groups

The Application Group is something new to BizTalk360. We always aim at providing a user interface that must ease the work of the customer, with minimal configuration. You can create a group and map the related applications to that group.

Now, providing access to this application group will automatically enable the users to access the applications which are mapped to that Application Group. This Application Group is only related to BizTalk360 and not to BizTalk itself. When the corresponding Normal User logs in to BizTalk360, his access will be limited to these applications. Only Super Users can view and edit the Application Groups.

The Normal Users/Groups will have access to other modules in BizTalk360, based on the applications only. The concept of Application Groups was created to ease the work of the admins.

It is also possible to view the list of Application Groups created for an environment; editing or deletion them is done by the Super users.

Scenario

Do you know what happens if you try to delete an Application Group that is already given access to a Normal user? It is not possible to delete that Application Group. The exception message would be captured and displayed in the UI.

This way, it would be easy to identify the association between the user and the Application Group.

Would it not be interesting to try this out?

What would happen to existing user configuration?

Now that we know what the different available options are for associating the applications to new users/groups. At this point of time, there must be a question coming up on what would happen to the existing users created when we upgrade from an older version to the new version of BizTalk360.

  • Will all that information be lost?
  • Do I need to create all the users once again and configure the rules?
  • Will the user data not get migrated during the upgrade?

Lot more questions would come up during the upgrade, as this is a critical area of security and there would be different users and groups which are already created and provided access to the applications.

Please don’t panic. As promised, we always take care of your data and configuration and migrate them successfully to the new version. There will not be any data loss.

Yes, your data and configuration are safe and will be migrated successfully during the upgrade. Now, said that the data will be safe, what will happen to the User configuration data after the upgrade? There was no concept of Wildcard or Application group in the previous versions. The only which was available, was to select the applications from the grid and save them.

For persisting the existing configuration data, we have another rule available: ‘Grant Access by Application’. You will probably be happy to hear that!

Once the upgrade is completed, this will be the default rule which is selected for existing users. Once the Super users edits the details for a Normal User, this rule is selected. They can now change the rule configuration as per the requirement.

The only difference between this configuration and the other new rules is that when Grant Access by Applications is configured, newly applications created will not automatically be given access as in the other rules.

Viewing the permitted applications

Once the rule is configured, there is a view option for the admin to verify who have been provided access to which applications. Here is the option that we have given:

A view option has been provided in the User settings screen, which will list all the permitted applications for the users.

By viewing the permitted applications, the Super User can verify if the access to the applications have properly been provided to the Normal users/groups.

Conclusion

With the new look for application access, we are convinced that we brought a great new feature 😊. It will save time for the admins to provide access to users and groups. It will now be easy for users to take care of the newly created applications as well. Once the rule is configured, it is all set and no need to worry about new applications.

Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

TLS Support in BizTalk360

TLS Support in BizTalk360

BizTalk360 is the One platform monitoring solution for BizTalk server. It only takes about 15 minutes to install the product and have it ready for use. The installation is very smooth and straightforward. During the installation, the web application, Monitoring and Analytics services and the database will be installed as per the selection of choice by the users.
One of the main advantage of the BizTalk360 installer is that you have the option to view the installer logs in case if there are any errors during the process. The installation log would contain the complete details of the installation steps, the service account details, the database connection string details etc. and of course the error details, if any.
Our BizTalk360 support team receive tickets from customers seeking assistance during the installation. In this blog, I would like to share an interesting case from a customer related to BizTalk360 installation.

The customer scenario

When the customer tried to install BizTalk360, they got below error in the creation of the BizTalk360 database step.

Here are the investigation steps

When the installer fails, our first step of investigation would be to check for the installation logs. In the logs, there was the following error message: Error 0x80004005: ‘failed to check if database exists’.
The next option would be to check for the permissions for the BizTalk360 service account in the SQL server hosting the BizTalk360 database. As a prerequisite for smooth installation of BizTalk360, the service account must be provided the db_owner permission for the BizTalk360 database. At the customer end, all the permissions were intact but still the error persisted. After a thorough analysis, we found the root cause to be with the TLS version installed in the servers.

Standards for securing communication

As database driven applications are increasing their hold on the systems market, the security of the retained information is also increasing. One way of mitigating a potential attack during a user’s session, would be to use a secure communication protocol to encrypt data in transit between the user and the server on which the sensitive information resides. Two of these communication protocols used are: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS).
SSL was first introduced by Netscape back in 1993-1994. The growth of the Internet was rising and so was the need for transport security. Today SSL/TLS is used in almost every conceivable online service. TLS is the protocol that allows digital devices (such as computers and phones) to communicate over the internet securely, without the transmission being vulnerable to an outside audience. The latest version of TLS is TLS1.2.

How did TLS hinder the installation of BizTalk360?

As per any organization’s security policy, they would be installing TLS protocol for more security. But do you think that this protocol would make the BizTalk360 installer to fail? How is that related to BizTalk360? Let’s move on to find the answer.
Let us consider the following setup for BizTalk360. Having a single BizTalk Server & standalone BizTalk360 environment, the setup will look like below.

The BizTalk360 database may be hosted on a separate SQL Server as well. In that scenario, all the servers will have the TLS installed and they communicate with each other through the protocol. In some of the customers’ cases, where they disabled TLS 1.0 and enabled TLS 1.2, they had the difficulty in installing BizTalk360 as the database was not getting created. However, once TLS 1.0 was enabled and TLS1.2 disabled, the installation was successful with the database creation.

The different scenario of the customer

In another customer scenario, they were using the SQL Express Edition for hosting the BizTalk360 database. This is first time we have come across such a case with the SQL Server edition. At first, we suggested them to enable TLS1.0 and disable TLS1.2. But when TLS1.2 was disabled, they faced the error in connecting to the SQL Server as shown below.

We tried different options for enabling the TLS versions, but this did not solve the error at all. Let’s move ahead to know the real cause of the error and how we resolved it.

The WiX toolset and BizTalk360 installer

BizTalk360 installer uses the WiX toolset for the installation package and database creation. It seemed that there was no support for TLS 1.2 in the WiX toolset for the SQL Express edition. Hence it was not able to connect to the SQL Server for the database creation.
The BizTalk360 installer is so robust that each and every error will be displayed, and it won’t allow the installation to proceed in case if it encounters any problem. The installation logs are an added advantage to get the clear picture of the error message. The below picture shows the TLS settings at the customer end.

As a quick step for testing this case, we immediately provisioned a VM with the same configuration as the customer and we were able to reproduce the exact issue. After a complete analysis and research, we found the issue with the WiX toolset. Now that we had identified the issue with the WiX toolset, the update was available for it. With this updated version of the installer,  the installation was successful, and the database was also created.
This was a different experience and of course a good learning for us. We, the support people, now had acquired the background knowledge of the installer as well as the TLS protocols.

Conclusion

New experiences lead to new learnings. As TLS 1.0 has been deprecated, many of our customers who have already moved to TLS 1.2 were not sure if BizTalk360 supports the latest version. Now the installer supports the latest TLS version, which is TLS1.2. This will be updated in our upcoming release version of BizTalk360 v8.9. When the customers upgrade to v8.9, they can have TLS 1.2 enabled which was not the case previously. When they had TLS1.0 disabled, they were not able to install BizTalk360. They had to enable TLS1.0, disable TLS1.2, install BizTalk360 and then once again disable TLS 1.0, which is a cumbersome job.
Now BizTalk360 supports TLS 1.2. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!!! 😊.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

Analytics Features enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.8

Analytics Features enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.8

Using BizTalk360 Analytics, you can visualize a lot of interesting facts about your BizTalk environment, like number of messages processed, failure rate at message type level, BizTalk server CPU/Memory performances, BizTalk process (host instances, SSO, rules engine, EDI etc), CPU/memory utilization and lots more.

In a data-driven business setup, there will be scenarios where critical executive decisions are made based on the performance reports of various components of the listed servers in their environment. BizTalk360 aims to offer an out of the box tool with similar capabilities as the Performance Monitor tool in Windows servers. BizTalk360 Analytics offers visual display of the most important performance counters that are consolidated and arranged on a single screen so that the information can be monitored in a glance. Custom reports can be built in minutes with the metrics that really count for your business, and they’re easy to share with other users in the system. In addition, dashboards can give you a summary of many reports on a single page using drag-and-drop widgets for fast, easy customization.

In every new release of BizTalk360, we include new features and enhancements to make the product more usable for the customers and adding value for them as per the below quotes,

Excellent organisations consistently add value for the customers by understanding, anticipating and fulfilling needs, expectations and opportunities

Let’s see what we have brought for the Analytics module in BizTalk360 v8.8:

  • Zoom In and Out option for the Message Patterns
  • Renaming option for the Message Pattern title
  • Restart option for the Analytics and Monitoring Windows services

In this article, we are having a look at all these improvements.

Zoom In and Out option for the message patterns

In a typical BizTalk environment, there will be different message flows happening. It could be a simple one-way messaging or more complex message pattern with an orchestration connecting different ports. The unique message patterns are captured and displayed in BizTalk360 with a graphical representation. With messaging patterns, you can get to know how many messages passed through a particular port and the average time of execution for the messages across a time period. 

The difficulty here lies in viewing the complex patterns within small screen resolution. For this reason, we have included the zoom in/out feature for the message patterns in the full screen mode.

Analytics features enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.8: Zoom In/Out button in Graphical Flow

This option comes into picture when the message pattern is opened in full screen mode and you can zoom in /out using either the mouse or the icons present. In the full screen mode, the properties of the ports are not displayed. To view the properties, this mode needs to be exited.

Renaming option for the Message Pattern title

Once a message pattern is recognized by BizTalk360, the message flow is saved with a GUID as its title. This would be difficult to remember and not user friendly. Hence, we had the edit option in a separate screen, enabling the user to provide a descriptive name and detailed description for the message pattern.
Based on the few requests from the customers however, there is an extra capability added to rename the message pattern title from the details screen itself. In this case, the users can directly rename the title in the details section where the message flow is seen instead of going to a separate screen.

Analytics features enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.8: Zoom In/Out in Message Patterns

Restart option for Analytics and Monitoring Windows services

Sometimes an exception occurs during monitoring or in the analytics section. Once that exception is resolved, it is recommended to restart these services to reset the errors in the corresponding sub services.

In this scenario, the user would need to login to the server where the service is installed and then restart it. If the service is installed in more than one server, then they would need to login to all the servers for restarting the services.

To make life a little bit easier, we have added the restart option in BizTalk360 application. When this option is clicked, the service installed in multiple servers will get restarted.

Analytics features enhancements in BizTalk360 v8.8: Restart BizTalk360 services

Other improvements

There are other bug fixes as well, in the Analytics section included as part of the BizTalk360 v8.8 release, which include:

  • Improving the performance by deleting the temporary tables created
    • In BizTalk360 Analytics section, for displaying the data for the messaging patterns, we directly query the MessageBox database and the Tracking database and store them in the temporary table in TempDB. Depending on the volume of data, these temporary tables may cause performance hinge in BizTalk360. Based on the auto growth settings in the SQL server, the TempDb will grow and results in SQL Exception for few widgets. The code is modified to delete the temporary tables after fetching data. Hence, data growth is controlled and there will not be any performance glitch.
  • The edit icon for the date time range in the Analytics widget has been removed as there is already a link present
    • The custom widgets in the Analytics section is designed to display the data based on the date time range, which is last 24 hours, 7 days and 30 days. You also have the option to set the custom date time range. The datetime range in the custom widget data already has the link to edit the date. There was an additional edit link present in these widgets which we thought would be unnecessary as it may not be used. Hence this link was removed to make the widgets more user friendly.
  • Displaying the data for available memory in the widget
    • Widgets in the Analytics Dashboard are designed to provide the user with a graphical data. There are three different types of widgets that can be used,
      • Default/Basic Widgets
      • Static Widgets
      • Custom Widgets
      • You can create and customize the different types of widgets only under the Operations Dashboard and Analytics Dashboard. The process to perform these operations remains the same.

Sometimes there may be inconsistent occurrence of certain issues which may be difficult to be identified. One such issue was that “When the Available memory % counter for SQL server was added to the custom widget and when the widget was refreshed, the data for memory % was not getting displayed in the graph”. The root cause for this case was identified and fixed in BizTalk360 v8.8.

Please refer the release notes link below for the complete list of enhancements and bug fixes in v8.8:

https://docs.biztalk360.com/v1.0/docs/v8821162405

Conclusion

Why not give BizTalk360 a try! It takes about 10 minutes to install on your BizTalk environments and you can witness and check the security and productivity features of BizTalk360, within your own BizTalk Environments. Get started with the free 30 days trial. If you are already using BizTalk360 you can download the latest version directly from the product and upgrade, it to enjoy the new features.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

BizTalk360 v8.8 Released

BizTalk360 v8.8 Released

With BizTalk360, the one stop monitoring solution for BizTalk server, we always understand the empathy of the customers and improve the product accordingly, by developing new features and enhancing the existing ones.

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know their expectations.” – Roy H. Williams

We receive customer suggestions/feedback through various channels like our support portal, the feedback forum, emails etc. We make sure that all these suggestions and feedback are being answered and that they are accommodated in the product. The outcome is a new version, being released with the new set of features, enhancements and of course several bug fixes.

“Success is not delivering a feature, it is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.” – Eric Ries

We understand the customer needs and add them to the product to make the product as suitable as possible for the user. We are delighted to announce the availability of BizTalk360 version 8.8 with the introduction of a new feature, most expected enhancements and bug fixes.

New Features

Import/Export of BizTalk360 configuration

This is the most wanted feature in BizTalk360 as suggested by most of the customers. In the earlier versions of BizTalk360, we had the ability to import and export the alarms. But there was a requirement to have the option to import/export the other features like user access, saved queries etc. In this new release of BizTalk360, we have the option to import/export the following between the BizTalk environments.

  1. Alarm – Already exists (Moving to the new menu in the settings side)
  2. User Access Policies
  3. Saved Queries
    1. MessageBox and Tracking queries
    2. Advanced Event Viewer queries
    3. ESB, BAM and EDI queries)
  4. Secure SQL Queries

Enhancements

The feedback portal is frequently monitored and we make sure the customers’ suggestions are heard and answered. Usually, higher vote requests are considered for the upcoming release implementation. This release of BizTalk360 includes the following enhancements, which were based on requests taken from the feedback portal.

Stop alerts for maintenance:

This feature is added to allow the user to setup multiple maintenance windows in the future, so that the alarms will be disabled during that period and no notifications will be sent. The following options are available:

  1. Can set multiple maintenance window
  2. View the historical maintenance schedules
  3. Maintenance notification will be shown in the dashboard with maintenance details like time and date

When the maintenance period is active, the user will be alerted that the maintenance period is currently going on with an informational message, both in the Operational dashboard as well as in Stop Alerts screen. Information regarding the start and end times of the maintenance window will also be provided.
Stop Alert For Maintenance
A Purging policy is also set, for managing the table size of the historical maintenance schedules.

Allow users of applications to view Policies/Rules for just their application(s)

The user can now view the business rules associated for the application in the application view under “Application support” section, irrespective of the Business Rule Composer access permission.

Grid Filter capability

In a BizTalk environment, there are various types of data flows happening through the system. BizTalk360 allows users to query all the different types of data available in the BizTalk environment from a single location and the results are displayed in grid columns.

Our grid columns got a new makeover! This new capability is specially designed to improve grid performance in high-volume environments. Filtering grid columns could result in a good end-user experience and get faster desired result.

There are four types of filters namely,

  1. Date Time Filter
  2. Status Filter
  3. Boolean Filter
  4. String Filter

Application Filter

Pagination across all the modules

Pagination ability has been implemented across the product to improve the performance and usability of each grid view. This will divide the grid dynamically into separate pages, using the system settings configuration. A user can also change the grid page size dynamically. Based on the Max Match value, which can be configured in the System settings, a user can select a value for the pagination grid.
Pagination
The user can switch the page by selecting the next/previous arrows and can also switch by selecting the page number directly at the bottom of the grid display. The selected page will get highlighted accordingly.

Export to Excel

This functionality is already available in BizTalk360. In this version, it has been enhanced for better usability purpose. Now the user can export multiple grid information either in a single sheet or in separate sheets as well. The link type Export to Excel option has been modified to a dropdown in case there are multiple exportable data sources present.
Export to Excel

Notification emails with high importance

This is a new and powerful capability, which we have included in this version. Most of the time we receive a lot of emails and important messages. BizTalk360 notification emails may be overlooked in our long list of messages. This functionality is useful for support people to determine the priority of the emails and allowing the user to take action quickly.
High Priority Settings

BAM Enhancements

There were few changes made in BAM in our earlier release version v 8.7. This is continued in this new version as well.

  • Now the user can download the message content from both the database as well as the archive folder
  • Earlier, BAM data was getting displayed in the UTC date format irrespective of the user profile. Now this has been modified to display the BAM data in the user profile time format

Miscellaneous enhancements

The remaining enhancements include the following:

  • Zoom in/out options for the modules Graphical Message flow /Message Patterns:

The zoom in/out option has been provided for viewing the message flows in the Graphical Message Flow and Message Patterns. This will help users to view the complete flow of messages involving complex orchestrations without any difficulty.

  • Restart option for the analytics and monitoring services in the UI:

The user can now restart the analytics and monitoring services from BizTalk360 UI, without logging into the server where the services are installed. When the services are installed in high availability mode, the services will get restarted in all the servers where they are installed.

  • Host Instance restart – This is a new functionality where users can restart the host instances from BizTalk360 itself
  • The user can now terminate scheduled messages from BizTalk360 -> Message Box (Queries)

Issues resolved from different areas

We have closed around 70 support tickets as part of fixing the issues in different areas. Please refer the Release notes .

Conclusion

We always monitor the feedback portal and take up the suggestions and feedback. Now we would like to request you, our customers, to please take the time to fill this questionnaire to help us prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks, to let us know what are your main pain points and help us to further improve the product.

Why not give BizTalk360 a try! It takes about 10 minutes to install on your BizTalk environments and you can witness and check the security and productivity of your own BizTalk Environments. Get started with the free 30 days trial.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

BizTalk360 v8.7 Released

BizTalk360 v8.7 Released

We are excited to launch version 8.7 of BizTalk360 where we have added improvements to existing features and resolved quite a few number of outstanding support tickets raised from our customers. No one looks forward to spring-cleaning. But think how much better your house/Ticketing system will feel when it’s done!

So, in this version, we decided to roll up our sleeves, and get down to business to resolve some of those dusty cobwebbed tickets and some much-needed fixes. Whenever a support ticket is received and identified as an issue, the support team moves it to bug status, so that it can be added to the development pipeline to be fixed.

As the years have gone by, BizTalk360 has really matured as a product, bringing out new features and enhancements every release (we typically plan a release every quarter). But this release, the team decided to concentrate on bug fixes and help the customer even more by giving them some much needed resolutions.

Resolving Issues from different areas

In this release, we have picked up about 63 support tickets across a wide range of areas. The number of tickets from each module can be seen below.

Support tickets statistics BizTalk360 v8.7 Release

Providing alternate solutions to feedback portal issues

As a product based company, the suggestions and feedback from the customers are very important for the development of the product. We always welcome the feedback which the customers post on the feedback portal. Although at times we are unable to provide a fix in the product immediately, we do try and provide some workaround so the customer can keep using the product in the desired way.

1. Publish SQL Query as a custom widget

Here the customer wished to display the result of a SQL query in the Operations dashboard as a widget. We have taken a sample query and displayed the same as a widget.

2. BizTalk360 to run a BHM Monitoring Profile

In this scenario, the customer wished to run a BHM profile from BizTalk360. We analysed and found another way for BizTalk360 to pick up and run the BHM Profile setup with specific rules rather than the Default profile.

3. PowerShell Notification Channel

Another popular request was for BizTalk360 to perform some action along with the alerts that it sends. This can be actioned via a PowerShell script. This article outlines the steps to be followed to achieve this integration with BizTalk360.

BizTalk360 v8.7 Enhancements

There have been few enhancements that are added as part of BizTalk360 v8.7. These include

Triggering alert emails to admin users

Alert Notification will be sent to the admin users in case of any errors that occurred during the monitoring process. Admin users can be configured in the system alert settings section.

Triggering alert emails to admin users

Pagination added for applications to improve performance

The pagination has been implemented for the “Application Support” section in BizTalk360. This will improve the performance while fetching the application artifacts where there are many applications and artifacts in the environment.

Data monitoring filter option in the dashboard

The performance of the filters in the data monitoring dashboard has been improved by having a filter option to select the specific alarms and corresponding status.

Data monitoring filter option BizTalk360 v8.7 release

Installer logging capability

One challenge that we faced during the installation and upgrade of BizTalk360 is that, if the installation fails, then the support team would ask the customer to run the installation again with logging enabled and share the installation logs to identify the root cause. Now this logging is enabled as part of the installer itself and it would be easy to identify the problem in case of any installation issues.

BizTalk360 Installer Changes v8.7

Stop alerts for maintenance Notification in the dashboard

During the maintenance window, no notification was earlier shown in the UI. This is enhanced now and the notification ‘Environment is currently under Maintenance’ will be shown in the dashboard.

Stop alerts for maintenance BizTalk360 v8.7 release

Feedback Portal News

We have been monitoring the feedback portal requests, and have been picking up the requests that have been popular.

>>Which feature would you like to see coming in BizTalk360 in the upcoming releases?<<

Now we would like to request you, our customers, to please take the time to fill this questionnaire to help us prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks, to let us know what are your main pain points and help us to further improve the product.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

Self-troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Self-troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

We, the product support team, often receive different types of support cases reported by the customers. Some of them may be functional, others may be related to installation and so on. Every support case is a new learning experience and we put in our best efforts to resolve the issues, thereby providing a better experience to the customers. As the below quotes say,

“Customer success is simply ensuring that our customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with our company” – Lincoln Murphy

We must make sure that we are taking the customers in the right direction when they raise an issue and must give them confidence about the product as well as service.

As already known, BizTalk360 is the one stop monitoring tool for BizTalk server. BizTalk360 not only contains the monitoring options for BizTalk server, in turn contains other in-built tools as well such as BAM, BRE etc. Whenever an issue is reported by the customer, we start our investigation from the basic troubleshooting steps. Hope it would be interesting to know what are the basic troubleshooting that we do. Yes, it would be. In this blog, I will share the information about the basic troubleshooting tools that we have in BizTalk360 that help us in resolving the customer issues.

Installer Log Information:

The first step in using BizTalk360 is the installation and configuration. The installation, as well as the upgrade process, is seamless with simple steps and some of the permission checks are done in the installer. But there may be some cases where the installer may fail with the below error.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

There is no much information about the error on the screen. So how do we check this error? Here comes the Installer logs for our help. Generally, when we install BizTalk360, we just give the name of the MSI in the admin command prompt and run it. But to enable installer logs we need to run the installer with the below command with the BizTalk360 version number.

msiexec /i “BizTalk360.Setup.Enterprise.msi” /l*v install.log

The installer log location can also be provided in the command, else the log will be created in the same folder where the MSI file is located. The steps performed during the installation will be logged in the installer log. The log will also contain information about any exception thrown. So, for the above error, the logged information was:

MSI (s) (E0:D4) [13:57:50:776]: PROPERTY CHANGE: Modifying CONNECTION_ERROR property. Its current value is ‘dummy’. Its new value: ‘Cannot open database “BizTalk360” requested by the login. The login failed.

Login failed for user ‘CORPsvcbiztalk360′.’.

The error clearly states that it is a permission issue. When BizTalk360 is installed, the BizTalk360 database gets created in the SQL server. BizTalk360 may be installed on the same machine where BizTalk server resides, or in a standalone machine and the SQL database may be on a separate server. As a prerequisite for BizTalk360, we recommend providing the SYSADMIN permission for the service account on the SQL server. Giving this permission to the service account resolves the above error. Hence, any installation related error information can be identified from the installer logs and can be resolved.

Troubleshooter:

This is an interesting tool which is integrated within BizTalk360 and available as a separate window-based tool. contains an extensive set of rules to verify all the prerequisite conditions in order to successfully run BizTalk360. As you can see in the below picture, the user just enters the password for IIS application pool identity and monitoring service account and clicks the “Troubleshoot BizTalk360” button. The rules will be verified and results will be indicated in the form of RED/GREEN/ORANGE.

This way, we can check the missing permissions for the BizTalk360 service account and provide the same.

Apart from the permissions, the other checks done by the troubleshooter are:

  • IIS Check
  • SQL Select Permission check
  • Configuration File check
  • Database report

If the customer faces any issue during the initial launch of the application, then they can run the troubleshooter and check for the permissions. Once the errors are resolved and everything is green, they can start BizTalk360 and it should work.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Hence all the information regarding the service account permissions, BizTalk360 configuration and database can be obtained with the help of troubleshooter. The integrated troubleshooter can be accessed from BizTalk360 itself as seen below.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

BizTalk360 Service Logs:

The details of the exceptions that occur in BizTalk360 are captured in the log files that are generated in the BizTalk360 folder. The logs files not only contain the information of the exceptions, but they also contain the information about the alarm processing and the subservices statuses. There are different logs for each of them which are described below.

Monitoring Logs

Monitoring is one of the most important tasks performed in BizTalk360. There are new features getting added in every release of BizTalk360. The monitoring capability is also extended to File Locations, Host Throttling monitoring, BizTalk server high availability and much more. The BizTalk360 monitoring service is installed along with the BizTalk360 web application. Once the artefacts are configured for monitoring, the service runs every 60 seconds and triggers alert emails according to the conditions configured.

What happens if there occurs some exception during the monitoring and alerts are not triggered? Where can we find the information about these exceptions and take necessary actions? Here come the service logs that are located in BizTalk360 installation folder/Service/Log folder. There are about 25 different logs that get generated for each monitoring configuration separately and get updated whenever the monitoring service runs. Say for example, if the alerts are created, but not transmitted due to an exception, this information will be logged in the BizTalk360.SendMail.log file. So, when the customer raises an issue regarding the transmission of alerts, the support team starts the investigation from the logs. We ask the customers to share the logs from their environment and we check them. Let’s look at a customer scenario.

One of the issues came up such that:

  • The customer has configured a receive port for process monitoring
  • But they are getting Actual count = -1 even when there are messages processed via this port.
  • They wanted to know the reason why the actual count was -1.

In BizTalk360, the negative value denotes that there has been some exception occurring. And, the exception would be logged in to the service logs. Hence, we asked them to share the logs.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

From the BizTalk360.ProcessMonitor.log, we could see the following exception:

2017-09-21 10:16:45 ERROR – ProcessMonitoringHelper:GetMonitoringStatus. Alarm Name:PROD_DataMonitor: Name: Application : Atleast 20 Messages from DHL per hour: Exception:System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException (0x80131904): Timeout expired. The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding. —> System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception (0x80004005): The wait operation timed out at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection, Action`1 wrapCloseInAction)

The timeout exception generally happens when there is a huge volume of data in the BizTalkDTADb database since for Process Monitoring, we retrieve the results from this database and display it in BizTalk360. The database size was checked at their end and found to be 15 GB which was greater than the expected size of 10 GB. For more information on the database size, you can refer here.

Similarly, we have different log files generated from which we can get the information about the different sub services running for BizTalk360 Monitor and BizTalk360 Analytics services.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

We can also check if all the subservices are started properly. The log information is captured along with the timestamp and this would make much easier for the support team to identify the cause and resolve the issues in time, thereby making the customer happy. In case of monitoring logs, the Alarm name and configurations are also captured. There are separate logs for Process Monitoring and other Data Monitoring alarms. We have separate logs for FTP and SFTP monitoring too for capturing the exceptions if any.

Analytics logs

Analytics is yet another important feature in BizTalk360 with help of which you can visualize a lot of interesting facts about your BizTalk environment like number of messages processed, failure rate at message type level, BizTalk server CPU/Memory performances, BizTalk process (host instances, SSO, rules engine, EDI etc) CPU/memory utilization and lots more. BizTalk360 Analytics service also contains different sub services run and any exception occurring for these services will be captured in the logs under C:Program Files (x86)Kovai LtdBizTalk360AnalyticsLog folder.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

BizTalk360 Analytics is used to gather the information about the performance counters in the server and display them in the form of widgets. Also, BizTalk360 will display the information if the system is under throttling condition in a graphical format. There was a case from the customer that the Throttling Analyser was not displaying any formation when the system was under throttling condition.  We then checked the logs and found the below error in the BizTalk360.Throttling.log.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

From the logs, we could understand that the performance counters were corrupted and rebuilding the counters resolved the issue.

Web and Svc logs

At times, there are scenarios where a page in BizTalk360 may take some time to get loaded leading to performance issues. The time taken to load the page can be captured in the svc logs present in C:Program Files (x86)Kovai LtdBizTalk360Web folder.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Once a customer reported that there was performance latency in some of the BizTalk360 pages. We checked these trace logs and found that the service calls GetUserAccessPolicy & GetProfileInfo methods were taking more than 30 seconds to get resolved.

GetUserAccessPolicy–>Groups/user assigned to provide access to the features of BizTalk360.

GetUserProfile –> Fetch the UserProfile of the group/user been configured.

These methods were then optimized for caching in the next BizTalk360 version release and hence the performance issue was resolved.

BizTalk360 subservices status

As mentioned before, we have different subservices running for BizTalk360 Monitor and Analytics services. In case, if there is any problem in receiving alerts or if the service is not running, the first step would be to check for the status of the monitoring subservices for any exceptions. This can be found in BizTalk360 Settings -> BizTalk360 Health -> Monitoring Service Status. The complete information will also be captured in the logs.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Similarly, we have the check for the Analytics sub services under Settings -> Analytics Health.

What if the customer has configured BizTalk360 under High Availability(HA)? High Availability is the scenario where BizTalk360 is installed on more than one servers pointing to the same database. The BizTalk360 Monitor and Analytics services can also be configured for HA. So, when there is an issue reported with these services, the logs from the active server must be investigated. The active server can be identified from BizTalk360 Settings -> BizTalk360 Health -> High Availability Status.

Self-Troubleshooting tools in BizTalk360

Conclusion:

These basic troubleshooting tools available in BizTalk360 make our support a little easier in resolving the customer issues. The first step analysis can be done with these tools which help us identify the root cause of the problem. We have our latest release BizTalk360 v8.6 coming up in a few weeks with more exciting features. In case of further queries, you can write to us at support@biztalk360.com.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”

The Role of Data Purging in BizTalk360 Data Monitoring

The Role of Data Purging in BizTalk360 Data Monitoring

As the below quote says,

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it – Peter Drucker

We, the product support team at BizTalk360, always put in our best efforts to solve the customer problems to make them feel satisfied. Our team often gets different varieties of problems, some related to functionality, performance, and data related issues and we make sure the issue is resolved within proper timelines. Recently there was a case with the customer that they were facing exception in Data Monitoring. In this blog, I am going to share my experience on how we resolved this problem.

The Message Box Data Monitoring:

How many times in a day does the support person have to watch for suspended instances in a particular application and take an appropriate action, or look out for ESB exceptions with a particular fault code? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to set up monitoring on a particular data filter, get notified when there is a violation, and take actions automatically depending on the actual situation? Yes, that’s exactly what BizTalk360 achieves through the concept of data monitoring, which was a result of a customer feedback.

In MessageBox Data Monitoring, we can identify the number of suspended instances, the messages flowing and take appropriate action, either to suspend, resume or terminate the instances. This can be done from BizTalk360 itself, given the user has appropriate permissions. In my previous blog, I have explained about the permissions to be given for the user to resume/suspend/terminate service instances. Let’s look into the customer’s case.

Customer’s case:

The support ticket was raised for the case that the customer has configured auto termination functionality for the suspended instances. The messages were neither getting archived nor terminated. But the Data Monitoring dashboard was showing the details of the successful run.

BizTalk Data Monitoring in BizTalk360

BizTalk Data Monitoring in BizTalk360

Our investigation starts:

For a support ticket, with respect to Data Monitoring section, the first thing that we would check is for the alarm configuration details and then the logs for an exception. So, we started the investigation by checking the alarm details and they seemed to be fine. But the exception was captured in the Data Monitoring dashboard when the details of the task action were checked for.

BizTalk Data Monitoring in BizTalk360

BizTalk Data Monitoring in BizTalk360

System.Data.SqlClient.SqlException (0x80131904): Timeout expired.  The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding. —> System.ComponentModel.Win32Exception (0x80004005): The wait operation timed out at System.Data.SqlClient.SqlConnection.OnError(SqlException exception, Boolean breakConnection, Action`1 wrapCloseInAction)

The real cause for the Timeout exception:

There was an additional information from the customer that they were not able to delete the existing MessageBox data alert from BizTalk360, even though the BT360 service account was a superuser. The same timeout exception was displayed while deleting the alarm also. The suspended instances were getting terminated from BizTalk admin console without any issues. Since this was an issue in the production environment, we immediately went on a call with the customer to probe further on the case.

There were four BizTalk360 servers configured in High Availability mode in the production environment, out of which 3 were passive and one was active. We checked the status of the monitoring sub-services and found that Purging was not getting updated properly.

The timeout exception usually happens when there is a large volume of data. Checking all the permissions and configurations, everything was fine. The next step was to check for the data in the BizTalk360 database. But from where does the large volume of data come from?

BizTalk360 communication with other BizTalk databases:

It’s a well-known fact that BizTalk360 is a one-stop monitoring solution to monitor BizTalk server. So, for monitoring the BizTalk artefacts and the messages flowing through the receive and send ports, BizTalk360 polls for the data from the BizTalk databases namely BizTalkDTADb and BizTalkMsgBoxDb and inserts the required data into the BizTalk360 database as per the alarm configurations. For MessageBox Data Monitoring, the data from BizTalkMsgBoxDb is fetched. If there is any action (resume/terminate) is configured for the suspended instances in Data Monitoring, then the data is inserted into the following tables in BizTalk360 database.

– b360_st_DataMonitorResults
– b360_st_DataMonitorTaskActionResults

When we checked the number of records in the b360_st_DataMonitorTaskActionResults table, the select query was just spinning and was taking lot of time to load the results. This was due to the reason that there were 8 million records in that table. And obviously, this was cause for the timeout exception in BizTalk360.

Purging in BizTalk360:

BizTalk360 comes out of the box with the ability to set purging duration and the background monitoring service has the capability to purge older data automatically after the specified period. The Administrators/Superusers can set up the “Purge duration” under “Settings”. This will control the database growth and hence the performance of BizTalk360 will not get affected. The default purging settings in BizTalk360 can be seen in the below screenshot.

We can see that the purging duration for Data Monitoring is 2 Months. Hence the historical data for 2 months will be present in BizTalk360 database.

Purging needs to be done to remove the historical data, thereby making the database healthy. BizTalk360 purges the data by running the stored procedure in the specified duration specified in the settings. The purging settings can be altered by the customers according to their business needs and data flow. If a large volume of data flows through the ports, they can set the purge duration to a minimum value so that data growth is controlled.

We recommended the customer to decrease the purge duration to 1 month and the observe the Data Monitoring. After modifying the purge duration, the MessageBox Data Monitoring started working as expected. The suspended instances were getting terminated as per the alarm configuration and there were no timeouts happening.

The best practice to follow in case of timeout exception:

Whenever a timeout exception occurs, the first thing to be checked is the standard database reports in the relevant databases. This will ensure which table occupies more space. Then we can act on the purging policy and change it according to the business needs and data flow.

If you have any questions, contact us at support@biztalk360.com. Also, feel free to leave your feedback in our forum.

Author: Praveena Jayanarayanan

I am working as Senior Support Engineer at BizTalk360. I always believe in team work leading to success because “We all cannot do everything or solve every issue. ‘It’s impossible’. However, if we each simply do our part, make our own contribution, regardless of how small we may think it is…. together it adds up and great things get accomplished.”