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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.”