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In this blog post, we will explain how different stakeholders within your organization can be involved in operating the BizTalk environment and managing BizTalk interfaces, by smartly, but safely deploy BizTalk360.

The BizTalk Administrators – the primary users of BizTalk360

Primarily, BizTalk360 will mainly be used by BizTalk administrators. They will use the product in their day to day operations and will probably be the ones who firstly receive notifications of threshold violations and daily health check reports.

These administrators are responsible for the day to day operations of the BizTalk group(s) and will be the main group of users of BizTalk360. Therefore, they need all the authorizations so they will have Super User accounts in BizTalk360. They will also be responsible for creating and maintaining User Access Policies.

After installation of the product, they will set up alarms for the BizTalk platform and the BizTalk applications it contains and receive notifications which are generated by the alarms.

The way they configure monitoring of their BizTalk environments with BizTalk360, might evolve like this:

  • Basic Threshold/Health Check monitoring with email notification
    • BizTalk Platform – Monitor platform components like Host Instances, SQL Server jobs, NT Services, BizTalk Health Monitor
    • BizTalk Applications – Monitor application artifacts like Receive Locations, Orchestrations, Send Ports, Instance states
  • Advanced Environment Monitoring
    • Endpoints – Monitor web services, queues, file shares, FTP sites, Azure services
    • Data monitoring – Monitor interface processing, automate resuming and terminating of service instances
    • Enterprise notification channels – Receive notifications via HP Operations Manager, Slack, ServiceNow, Microsoft Teams, Webhook, PowerShell

In case of any issues, the (team of) BizTalk administrators will fix these issues themselves, or they contact other stakeholders to discuss how the issues need to be fixed.

Improve your business processes by extending the reach of BizTalk360

The power of BizTalk360 lies in the fact that it provides a rich user interface with many different dashboards for many different purposes, both from a technical and a functional perspective. In contrast with the tools which come out-of-the-box with BizTalk Server, all the capabilities in BizTalk360 are protected by User Access Policies and Auditing. This enables you to give any person exactly that set of permissions that they need to be able to do their job.

When the BizTalk administrators feel comfortable with the product and with BizTalk administration in general, or when the organization requires it, BizTalk360 can be deployed to other parts of the IT department or business departments.

Involve stakeholders by sending notifications and providing access to BizTalk360

By sending alerts to stakeholders directly, you improve information management as your BizTalk Administrators don’t need to send separate emails or contact these stakeholders based on issues that have occurred.
Although in many cases, email will be the primary means of sending notifications from BizTalk360, the product also contains the following Notification channels:

• Microsoft Teams
• ServiceNow
• Slack
• PowerShell
• Webhook

These channels can be configured on each BizTalk360 alarm and enable you to receive the notifications where it is most convenient for you. You can also use a simple to use SDK to develop your own custom Notification channel. Read more about Notification channels in our Documentation Portal.

But you can go even further, BizTalk360 allows you to give stakeholders secure and limited access to BizTalk360. This kind of access can reach from read-only access to particular parts of the BizTalk platform to the capability to act on certain issues.

Deployment of BizTalk360 to your organization can be done in the pace you and your organization feel comfortable with. By sending notifications to the stakeholders and provide access to BizTalk360, you can keep the stakeholders informed of any issues, improve the availability of your business processes and meanwhile spreading the workload between all the stakeholders.

Think of the following scenarios which could be achieved:

  • Sending alerts to the help desk – This enables the help desk engineers to analyze any issues at hand and take countermeasures
  • Informing your administrators directly of any issues – Think of your System Administrators or DBA’s who receive alerts about server or database issues
  • Automated creation of support tickets in your ticketing system – This takes away the need to have an administrator to do it manually
  • Inform business users of issues – Think of batches which are not processed (non-events) or faulty processing of their messages
  • Provide access to dashboards/portals – Give your stakeholders access to portals like the BAM portal, ESB portal, Business Rules Composer, (Data) Monitoring/Analytics dashboard, etc. etc.

Identifying stakeholders

When it comes to deploying BizTalk360 throughout an organization, you can identify the following roles:

  • IT Support personnel
  • SQL Server DBA’s, System Administrators and BizTalk developers
  • Business Users

Let’s have a look at the roles mentioned above and their potential responsibilities with regards to BizTalk Server/BizTalk360.

IT Support personnel

To have a good eye watching on your BizTalk environment, you could involve the IT Support staff of your organization. Depending on your organization, they might be available 24/7. So it makes sense to send notifications of unexpected behavior happening on the platform level, as they might be able to act before BizTalk Administrators can. Besides sending them notifications, you could give the IT Support staff read-only access to BizTalk, so they can explore any issues and maybe help you fix them, while you might be at home, having weekend.

SQL Server DBA’s, System Administrators and BizTalk developers

Since operating BizTalk involves more than just the BizTalk Server product itself, but also components like SQL Server databases and all kind of Windows Server components, you might consider involving System Administrators and SQL Server DBA’s in BizTalk operations by sending them notifications which might be relevant for them.

A few examples are:

  • SQL Server Administrators can receive notifications in case the BizTalk related SQL Server jobs fail
  • System Administrators can receive notifications when the BizTalk servers are running out of disk space
  • BizTalk Developers can receive notifications in case issues arise with upgraded or newly deployed BizTalk applications

As a next step, you might give these administrators and developers access to BizTalk360. This ranges from providing read-only access to particular features to giving them full operational access to the parts of their interest.

If you give any of the stakeholders access to BizTalk360, it is also helpful to use the BizTalk360 Knowledge Base. When you properly maintain the Knowledge Base, your support people will have the help they need at their fingertips and be able to solve known issues quickly.
The Knowledge Base associates Knowledge Base articles to Service Instances, EventLog entries, ESB Exceptions, and Throttling data. Read more about its capabilities in our Documentation portal.

You might consider providing System Administrators, SQL Server DBAs and BizTalk developers with the following authorizations:

  • System Administrators
    • Advanced Event Viewer
    • BizTalk Health Monitor
    • Topology
    • Host/Host Instances
    • BizTalk/SQL Servers
    • Manage BizTalk/SQL NT Services
    • Tracking Manager
    • Adapters
    • Backup/DR Visualizer
  • SQL Server DBA’s
    • Secure SQL Queries
    • Advanced Event Viewer
    • BizTalk Health Monitor
    • Message Boxes
    • SQL Servers
    • Manage SQL NT Services
    • SQL Server Instances
    • Manage SQL Jobs
    • Backup/DR Visualizer
  • BizTalk developers
    • MessageBox queries (with/without access to content/context)
    • Tracking Queries
    • Advanced Event Viewer
    • Tracking Manager
    • Secure SQL Queries
    • BAM portal
    • ESB Exception portal
    • EDI Reports
    • Messaging Patterns

Business Users

This category of users might exist both inside as outside your organization. Depending on that, it will differ how they are involved in managing the interfaces. Normally, they will not take part in managing the BizTalk platform itself.

Internal business users can be informed about the processing, by providing them with notifications of disruptions in the processing of their interfaces, i.e., inform them of suspended instances, transmission failures, and failing process monitoring.

When you want to give business users access to BizTalk360, you can think of the following features:

– Specific BizTalk applications
– Message Box (Queries)
– Graphical Flow (Tracking)
– Business Rules Composer
– EDI Reports, parties and agreements
– ESB Portal
– Business Activity Monitoring
– Messages Content/Context
– Secure SQL Queries

In case external business users are involved in certain interfaces, you might send them the same notifications as internal business users. As the external business users will be outside your organization, you normally will not give them access to the BizTalk360 User Interface.

Conclusion

We often see, that BizTalk Server is considered as a black box and deep BizTalk knowledge is needed to be able to find out what’s all happening inside that box. By using BizTalk360, we make it easy to gain that insight, even with little BizTalk expertise. Furthermore, by deploying BizTalk360 outside the BizTalk administrators team, you can give your middleware a face and achieve much more transparency about all the processing taking place in your BizTalk environment.

By using BizTalk360 outside the admin team, it is easier to notify other stakeholders by sending them notifications directly from BizTalk360. Even further, besides sending notifications to these stakeholders within (or outside) your organization, you can give people (limited) access to BizTalk360. This way they can view for themselves how all the processing is taking place or check the wellbeing of the environment, without the need of contacting the BizTalk Administrators team.

All in all, it must be clear, that by extending the use of BizTalk360 outside the admin team, you will have a better ROI of the product. If you would like to know more about how BizTalk360 can help your organization to manage your BizTalk Server middleware platform, feel free to contact us.

Author: Lex Hegt

Lex Hegt works in the IT sector for more than 25 years, mainly in roles as developer and administrator. He works with BizTalk since BizTalk Server 2004. Currently he is a Technical Lead at BizTalk360.