BizTalk360 Database – An In-Depth Insight

BizTalk360 Database – An In-Depth Insight

BizTalk360 is the one-stop monitoring product for your BizTalk environment. Installing and upgrading BizTalk360 is a seamless process when all the permissions and configurations are in place. Each software product has a frontend and a backend. Most often people focus on the frontend more to give a rich user experience. On the other hand, the backend would be considered only when it comes to the performance of the product. Of course, it is the DBAs responsibility to check the health of the database.

BizTalk360 being an on-premise product, it has its own database which becomes created while installing the product. It is always a good practice to take care of the database and the data, to avoid the performance problems as per the saying,

“Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves”

In this blog, I will give in-depth insight into the BizTalk360 database and some useful tips to take care of the database and the data to make the DBA’s work a little easier.

The BizTalk360 Database

The BizTalk360 application comes with the BizTalk360 database which contains about 116 tables, and a few stored procedures and views in it. Let us dig in and see what the important tables in the database are. One main point to be noted is that no changes should be done at the database level manually unless and until it is important and required.

The below table gives a clear picture of the important database tables related to the BizTalk360 modules.

Modules

Table Names

Installation

b360_admin_BizTalkEnvironment

b360_admin_GlobalProperties

Database information

b360_admin_DBMigration_Status

b360_admin_DBVersion

b360_admin_DBVersion_History

License information

b360_admin_LicenseActivation

Monitoring

b360_alert_Monitor

b360_alert_MonitorExecution

b360_ev_MonitoredServers

b360_mon_Service

Data Monitoring

b360_st_DataMonitorTasks

b360_st_DataMonitorResults

b360_st_DataMonitorTaskActionResults

b360_st_ProcessMonitorResults

b360_st_Schedules

Analytics – Performance

b360_perf_PerfCounter

b360_perf_PerfCounter_Data

b360_perf_PerfCounter_Expanded

Analytics – Messaging Patterns

b360_analytics_flows

b360_analytics_artifact_versions

Analytics – Reports

b360_report_Schedules

b360_report_Dashboards

 

Let us look at a few scenarios where updating of the tables would be required.

Connecting the BizTalkMgmtDb Database on a New Installation

It is often suggested as a best practice to install BizTalk360 in a separate standalone server over a BizTalk server, for better performance. In this case, to monitor the BizTalk server, the BizTalkMgmtDb details must be updated in the b360_admin_BizTalkEnvironment table in the BizTalk360 database or through the UI, else the following error message would appear in BizTalk360.

Connecting BizTalkMgmtDb database

BizTalk360 database

Migrating the BizTalk Server

Consider a scenario where your BizTalk environment is migrated to a higher version. When the BizTalk server is upgraded, the BizTalk360 server also needs to be upgraded with the same version of the admin components. If not, the following error will be seen in the BizTalk360 UI.

Migrating the BizTalk Server

The below tables need to have the BizTalk version changed appropriately and the MS_BizTalk_install_location can be updated.

  • b360_admin_BizTalkEnvironment -> BizTalk Version
  • b360_admin_GlobalProperties -> MS_BIZTALK_VERSION & MS_BIZTALK_INSTALL_LOCATION

Monitoring Scenarios

Monitoring is considered a core functionality of BizTalk360. There may be some cases where the alerts may not be triggered. When checked in the logs, there might be timeout exceptions.

Monitoring Scenarios

When there are a large number of data monitoring alarms and if much of their historical data is present in the database, it may result in timeouts and the exception can be seen in the Data monitoring alarm grid, for example when trying to delete an alarm. Maintaining the historical data for a long time may result in large database growth. This can be reduced by minimizing the purge duration.

The artifacts information which is mapped for monitoring can be found in the b360_alert_monitor table.

Data Purging

BizTalk360 has its own purging procedure to take care of purging data in the BizTalk360 database. In the Settings side, you can configure after how much time you want specific data to be purged. If you feel, the database grows with huge volumes of data, you can decide to change the purge policies.

purge policies

Data Purging

The Event Log Data Collection

BizTalk360 can collect event log information from the BizTalk and SQL servers which are connected to the BizTalk environment. The event log data can be viewed in BizTalk360 by configuring and using the Advanced Event Viewer. The data is collected from the servers and stored in the b360_ev_EventLogData table. By default, there are many sources configured in BizTalk360.

The Event Log data collection

This will collect the data for all the event levels and sources and store it in the table. However, this may also result in huge database growth thereby affecting the performance of the product.

To resolve this problem, the Event Log levels and sources, for which the data needs to be viewed, can be configured in BizTalk360 and the remaining sources can be removed from the configuration.

This will reduce the amount of data being polled for and stored in the database. Also, the purge duration can be reduced to remove the historical data.

Analytics Performance Data Collection

The Analytics module in BizTalk360 mainly deals with the performance-related information of the BizTalk and SQL servers. The performance data gets collected through the perfmon counters and stored in the performance-related tables mentioned above. The BizTalk360 Analytics service collects the data by contacting the servers through PerfMon and store it in the BizTalk360 database. By default, all the available metrics would be collected. This may also result in huge volumes of data which in turn might affect the performance.

To enhance the performance and to reduce the database growth, there has been added an option in BizTalk360 to choose the metrics for which the data needs to be collected and used in BizTalk360.

Analytics performance data collection

Data purging is also available for performance-related information. The purge duration can be minimized to reduce the database growth.

There are different stored procedures available in the database to take care of the purging action. The purging subservice, running under the BizTalk360 monitoring service, is responsible for executing the purge stored procedures.

In SQL Server Management Studio, there is the Disk usage by the top tables database report. This report helps to find out the tables which are containing high volumes of data.

BizTalk360 database

Database Permissions for the Service Account

As a prerequisite to installing BizTalk360, it is recommended to provide sysadmin permission for the BizTalk360 service account for smooth installation. Since there would be inserts, updates, creates, and alters, sysadmin permission is recommended.

Small Talk on the BizTalk Databases

Having said about the BizTalk360 database, let us now talk shortly about the BizTalk databases.  BizTalk360 communicates with the BizTalkMgmtDb database to fetch the data of the application and its artifacts for monitoring. The service instances information would be obtained from the BizTalkMsgBox database. Hence, it is necessary to keep an eye on the growth of the BizTalk databases as well in the dba perspective.

There might be a case where the Process monitoring results in the actual count -1. The reason might also be a timeout exception. This will happen when the BizTalkDTADb database is huge in size. This can be found out by checking the database reports to find out the disk usage of the top tables. We can check for the purging of the tracking database. The recommendations to control the size of the databases can be found here.

Conclusion

We hope this article gives you some more information about the BizTalk360 database. When the purging is in place, the database growth can be controlled, and it will be healthy. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

The post BizTalk360 Database – An In-Depth Insight appeared first on BizTalk360.

A Look Back on the BizTalk360 Technical Support 2019

A Look Back on the BizTalk360 Technical Support 2019

BizTalk360 Product Support – Every year brings a new learning and new experience. We receive support tickets through different channels like emails, support portal, feedback widget. It is the responsibility of every support engineer to make sure the support case is taken care of and resolved on time, thereby aiming for 100 % customer satisfaction.

customer-support

2019, of course, was a better year than before. A lot of customer relationship calls, best practice sessions, customer demos and much more. We are happy to share the stats of the support cases handled by us in 2019. This is the result of our continuous hard work and dedication which has resulted in some really positive numbers in BizTalk360 Customer Support.

  • Total tickets received for technical product support – 1274
  • No of tickets closed – 1064
  • Nearly 75% of the tickets resolved within SLA
  • January and September were busiest months which had the highest number of tickets received

Customer Satisfaction Report

This is another interesting factor which helps to know the rating of customer satisfaction. For every support ticket that is getting closed, there is a customer survey that gets attached to the closure response where they rate the resolution provided by the support engineers.

customer-satisfaction-report

The rating may be awesome, neutral or disappointed. The customers can provide their comments as per the resolution provided. The customer satisfaction reports help us improve our support based on the ratings and comments that we receive from the customers. This report is taken every week. We are happy to inform that most of the responses we received were of ‘Awesome’ rating and very few had the other ratings.

positive-feedback

Here are some of the customer quotes the BizTalk360 Support team has received in the past few months:

“Your support is amazing. It will definitely be a selling point here :-).”

“Fantastic support. Thank you!”

“Thanks for the quick and effective solution for monitoring this scenario. It is working for us. Really appreciate it!”

“Felt good to get a resolution which exactly solved our problem 🙂 well done “

“Quick, friendly and very knowledgeable support! very happy with the service :)”

These kinds of comments motivate us to do more and thereby providing the best customer support.

Here is a one such customer satisfaction report:

BizTalk360-customer-satisfaction-report

Major Releases in 2019

The feedback portal is one place where the customers can provide their suggestions and valuable feedback on the features that they already use and also features that they expect in BizTalk360. It is based on these feedback and customer votes; the features are selected for every release.

In 2019, we had 5 major releases, 8.9.5, 8.9.6, 9.0 Phase 1, 2 and 3.

For the list of new features and enhancements shipped in each release, refer to the release notes.

Some of the highlighting features added in 2019 are:

  • SQL cluster monitoring
  • Clustered host instance monitoring
  • Dynatrace integration for Analytics
  • BizTalk360 Activities Auditing
  • BizTalk Group Dashboard
  • Configuring polling interval for monitoring
  • Database size monitoring
  • SMTP Notification channel
  • Quick alarm configuration

For more details on the top 10 features in 2019, refer to the link. Also, the release includes enhancements as well as bug fixes. We always recommend the customers to upgrade to the latest version so that they are in line with our releases. This will avoid the issues with the product and helps us in the support as well.

In addition to the CR calls, to help customers in all aspects and understand their challenges, the client relationship team introduced the Quarterly health check session this year. In this session, we, the technical support engineers, would assist the customers in the upgrade process if they require assistance and understand their challenges in using BizTalk360 and provide resolutions.

This makes us understand the customers’ expectations better and help in improving the product to cater to the needs of the customer. As the saying goes, ‘Every ending has a new beginning’, the end of 2019 has brought us new lessons and experiences with various customers and new processes. Every support case has a lesson in it, be it the customer scenario, their infrastructure settings or our way of troubleshooting the case, our responses. We make sure that we improve our support, thereby making our customers happy and working more efficiently.

As part of the customer services, we also have the on-site BizTalk360 consultancy. Sometimes it would be more convenient to speak to somebody in person and with your BizTalk environment at hand. For such scenarios, we provide our customers with the opportunity to have an experienced BizTalk360 Product Consultant visit you at your premises.

The client relationship calls done every quarter helps us understand the pain points of the customers and the most used features in BizTalk360. The resolutions would be provided immediately in the call if possible or separate tickets would be raised for the issues so that it would be easy for tracking.

In 2020

2020 is, of course, going to be a very great year, with no doubt at all, the important reason being BizTalk 2020 will be announced by Microsoft which in turn sets the pace for the new features to be included in BizTalk360.

The most awaited event in the Microsoft Integration space, Integrate2020 is on the way. The dates and venues are finalized. Grab the early bird offer which ends by March 31st, 2020.

We have an upcoming webinar on “BizTalk360 Product v9.x product walkthrough”. Please register for the same here. More webinars to come on the way.

Conclusion

We would like to request you, our customers, so please take the time to fill this questionnaire. This helps us to prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks and will let us know what your main pain points are. In case of any queries, you can always write to support@biztalk360.com, so that we can immediately get your queries answered and resolve the issues. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

Every ending has a new beginning. Let’s hope and pray for 2020 to bring loads of wonders and happiness.

The post A Look Back on the BizTalk360 Technical Support 2019 appeared first on BizTalk360.

Security Compliances in BizTalk360

Security Compliances in BizTalk360

BizTalk360 is the one-stop monitoring solution for your BizTalk environment. Being a web application, security plays an important role in the application. Any organization installing the product would be considering the security aspects of the application. With BizTalk360 we provide high-level authorization capabilities through the User Access Policy and Governance/Audit capabilities.  The level of access can be customized for any BizTalk360 user. The activities performed by the users within BizTalk360 are audited and listed in the Audit History section.

Security compliance is a legal concern for organizations in many industries today. In demonstrating security compliance, enterprises are better able to define and achieve specific IT security goals, as well as mitigating the threat of network attacks through processes like vulnerability management. The security requirements and standards may vary for different organizations.

Being a web application, BizTalk360 is also expected to comply with the security standards for the organization’s demands. In this blog, I would like to give some details on some of the security compliances that are accommodated in BizTalk360. Let’s get into the details of the security compliances in BizTalk360.

security

FIPS Security

The FIPS standards specify the best practices and security requirements for implementing crypto algorithms, encryption schemes, handling important data and working with various operating systems and hardware, whenever cryptographic-based security systems must be used to protect sensitive, valuable data. FIPS defines specific methods for encryption and specific methods for generating encryption keys that can be used.

BizTalk360 also uses encryption/decryption algorithms for security.

There are some modules that require information like passwords, application security keys (for adding Azure subscriptions in BizTalk360 UI) to be provided in the UI. This kind of data will be encrypted and stored in the database. The areas in BizTalk360 where encryption is used include:

  • License activation
  • Adding Azure Subscription
  • Placeholders in custom widgets
  • Notification channel configurations
  • Accessing endpoints for monitoring

BizTalk360-License

BizTalk360-Azure-Subscription

FIPS Compliance is mandatory for US government computers, which means that all computers used for government work must be FIPS compliant. Application developers who need to test their software for government computers must ensure that they perform their testing on FIPS compliant computers.

Often, the support team gets support tickets from customers through various channels like email, feedback widget, and the support portal. One such ticket from a customer was that there was an error message in BizTalk360 UI as seen below.

error-message

As per the Government rules, the organization had to turn on the FIPS encryption algorithm in all the servers. Once the encryption was turned on, the above error started displaying BizTalk360. This is due to the reason that FIPS supported encryption methods were not available since it was AES standard compatible. The development team checked for all the areas where the encryption algorithms were implemented and modified them to support the FIPS standard.

This is considered as one of the important security aspects because if the compliance is not met, it would have been difficult for the customer to continue to monitor their BizTalk environment using BizTalk360.

TLS latest version Support

Transport Layer Security (TLS) is a cryptographic protocol designed to provide communications security over a computer network. Several versions of the protocols find widespread use in applications such as web browsing, email, instant messaging, and voice over IP (VoIP). Websites can use TLS to secure all communications between their servers and web browsers.

The TLS protocol aims primarily to provide privacy and data integrity between two or more communicating computer applications. There are different versions of TLS available. BizTalk360 was supporting TLS 1.0 until BizTalk360 v8.8. With the latest version of TLS, it is important that BizTalk360 also supports this latest version. This must be done at the installer level; when TLS 1.2 was not yet supported, the BizTalk360 installer would fail while trying to connect to the SQL database. This has been modified to support TLS 1.2.

We are happy to inform you that, from v8.9 onwards, BizTalk360 supports TLS 1.2.

Other security considerations

From a security perspective, Databases are considered as important for any organization. As access permissions to the database are restricted for safety reasons, DBAs are not ready to give all rights to all users. They would only provide the absolute minimum of required permissions on the database. The same principle is used in BizTalk360 as well. Under the Secure SQL queries option, the user can create/execute queries.

The following are the advantages of Secure SQL queries functionality in BizTalk360:

  1. Single management tool for users to execute the queries. No need for SQL Server Management Studio
  2. Central Query Repository – maintaining queries is much easier
  3. The end-users need not have direct access to the SQL database. The queries will be executed in the context of the BizTalk360 service account, therefore only the service account requires access to SQL Server
  4. Queries can be executed against any SQL instance/database which can be accessed by the BizTalk360 service account

But how is the security imposed here? Well, in BizTalk360, the Super User can choose the required permissions for the user in the query execution and provide the necessary access permission under the User Access Policy. Based on these permissions, the user can perform the query execution when he logins to BizTalk360.

BizTalk360-Query-Execution

There might be some organizations that would run a security scan report to find any security issues that may come with BizTalk360.  One such report was generated by one of our customers and they shared where the security risks were, classified as high, medium and low risks.

Some of the risks that were identified were SQL injection, database error patterns, and directory listing. Due to the SQL server injection, there might be the possibility to view, modify or delete database entries and tables. For the directory listing enabled, it is possible to view and download the contents of certain web application virtual directories, which might contain restricted files. The test result seems to indicate a vulnerability because the response contains SQL Server errors. This suggests that the test managed to penetrate the application and reach the SQL query itself, by injecting hazardous characters.

Being an on-premise application, the directory browsing should not affect the security because the application is installed on-premise and the database is also local and specific to the organization. The users who will have access to BizTalk360 will be Active Directory users of the specified domain. Also, BizTalk360 can be accessed in another domain only when there is a proper trust established between the domains and the users are added to the security group in the domain. The response contains the content of a directory (directory listing). This indicates that the server allows the listing of directories, which is not usually recommended.

Hence, disabling the directory browsing for the BizTalk360 site in IIS will not affect the application in any way. Once that was disabled, the risk was mitigated. For the SQL injection, the query to retrieve the tracking database performance counters and BizTalk Server performance counters were modified. These types of queries led to vulnerability because the response contained SQL Server errors. This suggests that the test managed to penetrate the application and reach the SQL query itself, by injecting hazardous characters. This was mitigated by modifying those queries accordingly.

Conclusion

With the security aspects in consideration and as per the feedback from the customers, we always enhance the features of BizTalk360. Considering the priority of the reported issue, our team will always act immediately, and the fix would be provided. This way we make sure that the product is secure and meets all the security standards so that there will not be any hindrance in monitoring your BizTalk environment using BizTalk360.

Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

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BizTalk360 – Ready to function

BizTalk360 – Ready to function

BizTalk360 is one-stop monitoring tool for monitoring your BizTalk environment. The BizTalk360 installation is a very quick process and does not take much time when all the prerequisites are met. For any software product, there would be some basic requirements that should be satisfied for its successful installation. BizTalk360 also has its own hardware and software requirements. In addition to these requirements, there are also some permissions and rules that need to be provided.

We have different documents that contain this information. But I thought it would be even more helpful for our customers if we have all this information in a single place. In this blog article, I would like to give a consolidation of all the requirements that one should make sure of before installing BizTalk360.

There are many considerations that need to be taken care of before installing BizTalk360, like where do you want to install BizTalk360, the service account permissions, the database creation, etc. Let’s look at each of them.

Installing guide for BizTalk360

BizTalk360, being a separate integration tool, always arises a query from the customers as to where we must install it. What is the best practice to install BizTalk360? It can be either installed on the same server where BizTalk is installed or in a standalone server.

The recommendation would be to install BizTalk360 on a separate server, rather than in the BizTalk server.

This will be useful in the performance perspective. The BizTalk server performance would not be hindered and BizTalk360 will notify the users when the BizTalk server is down. The important prerequisite for installing in a standalone server is that the BizTalk Admin Components must be installed beforehand in the standalone server.

BizTalk-Server-Installation

If these components are not installed, then the BizTalk360 installer will fail with the following error.

BizTalk360-Prerequisite-Check

The role of the service account in BizTalk360

One of the most important prerequisites for BizTalk360 is to configure a separate service account. The service account will be one that is used for the IIS App pool that will be created during the installation and also for running the BizTalk360 Monitor and Analytics service.

The recommendation is to create a dedicated service account, the reason being there are some permissions that need to be provided for this account.

The permissions would be:

  • Local administrator permission in the BizTalk360 server for starting the Monitor and Analytics service
  • Local administrator in the BizTalk and SQL server(s) for collecting the event log data and for disk and system resource monitoring
  • Sysadmin permission to the SQL Server for creating and updating the BizTalk360 database
  • Sysadmin permission for the BizTalk databases for monitoring and autocorrecting the SQL jobs. In case if you do not prefer to provide Sysadmin permission, you can provide SQLAgentOperator role for the service account for monitoring the SQL jobs and performing the autocorrect functionality
  • Member of all the BizTalk groups

Once you have created the service account, you will have to log in to the BizTalk360 server with this service account to install BizTalk360. Logging in with other users may result in other permissions related to the database as other users may not have the expected permissions as the service account.

Firewall ports and protocols to be checked

When you plan to install BizTalk360 in a separate standalone server, there are some configurations that need to be taken care in the security perspective. For example, there may be firewall rules that may restrict access to the server. For BizTalk 360 to be able to contact BizTalk Server, the MSDTC connection needs to be enabled in all the servers. BizTalk360 should be enabled with certain ports/protocols for communicating with the external servers.

Service-Feature

Next, make sure the below services are running in the server:

RPC

Also, make sure if custom ports are utilized for any service, unblock them as well from the firewall for the seamless working.

Ready to install BizTalk360

Once all the prerequisites are in place, you are now ready to install BizTalk360. The installation is a seamless process which would roughly take about 10-15 minutes when all permissions are in place.

You will have to make sure that you have logged into the server with the BizTalk360 service account. The reason for this is that when BizTalk360 is installed, the logged-in user will be created as a Super User in BizTalk360.

This Super User permission is required for the service account to perform certain automated processes like terminating/resuming service instances through Data Monitoring alarms and also for Analytics operations.

If for some reason, the installation fails, the first thing to be looked for the error, would be the installation logs.

Important configurations for BizTalk360

For BizTalk360 to be up and running, there are some configurations that need to be done. For example, the SMTP setting would be required for triggering the alert emails. You will need to create different users for accessing BizTalk360.

You can refer to the implementation of best practices here.

Best practices on a performance perspective

For any software product, the performance would be the foremost priority. Some of the performance measures that can be taken up for enhancing BizTalk360 would be:

  • Configuring only the required sources in the Advanced Event Viewer so that the database growth is controlled
  • Maintaining the appropriate purge duration to remove the historical data based on the business needs
  • Enabling only the relevant performance counters for Analytics performance data collection

Upgrade and Migration Scenarios

  • What happens when you upgrade BizTalk360 to a new version?
  • What happens when you migrate your BizTalk server?
  • Let’s have a look!

Upgrading BizTalk360

A new version of BizTalk360 is released every quarter with new features and enhancements picked up based on customer feedback. The release would also include certain bug fixes as well.

It is important that customers upgrade their BizTalk360 to the latest version to be in line with the release and enjoy the new features.

Things to be taken care while upgrading BizTalk360:

  • You should log in with the BizTalk360 service account to the BizTalk360 server
  • The license needs to be deactivated
  • The database should be backed up so that in case of any errors, the old database can be restored
  • Once after the successful upgrade, it is important to clear the browser cache and then launch BizTalk360

In a scenario where there might be some problems during the upgrade, the customer could have uninstalled and reinstalled BizTalk360. In this case, they would have restored the old database and the following error would occur.

restore-database-error

Here, we can see that the application has been upgraded but not the database since the old version of the database has been restored. The suggestion here would be to run the SQL scripts from the next version seen in the error from C:Program Files (x86)Kovai LtdBizTalk360ServiceSQL folder. Please note, if there is more than one script that needs to be executed, then they should be run in the same sequence.

Upgrading BizTalk Server

Customers might migrate from a lower version of BizTalk Server to a higher version, say for example from BizTalk Server 2013 to BizTalk Server 2016. There are some configuration changes that need to be done at the BizTalk360 side as well to point to the new BizTalk environment. The below steps need to be followed in the BizTalk360 box when you migrate the BizTalk server.

  1. Deactivate the license in BizTalk360 first before migration
  2. Install the new version of BizTalk admin components in BizTalk360 server
  3. After migration, update the environment details to point to the SQL instance which contains the BizTalk databases
  4. The below tables need to have the BizTalk version changed appropriately and the MS_BizTalk_install_location should be updated

b360_admin_BizTalkEnvironment -> BizTalk Version

b360_admin_GlobalProperties -> MS_BIZTALK_VERSION & MS_BIZTALK_INSTALL_LOCATION

You can export the alarms from the old BizTalk360 environment and import them to the new environment. The mappings will also get imported to the new environment. If you are using BizTalk360 v8.8 or later, then you can export the user settings as well.

  1. Modify the alarm mapping to point to the artifacts in the new environment

Migrating BizTalk360 database and application

When the BizTalk360 database is moved to a new server, the connection string needs to be modified in the following config files:

  • Web.config
  • BizTalk360.Monitor.exe.config
  • BizTalk360.Analytics.exe.config

For more details, refer to the article.

BizTalk360 additional details

The integrated Troubleshooter in the BizTalk360 UI will provide you with the complete details of BizTalk360 like the connection string, installation location, and the database.

biztalk360-components

biztalk360-component

Conclusion

Once all the setup and configurations are in place, it is a quick and seamless task to install/upgrade BizTalk360. The customer suggestion and feedback are always heard and addressed, which helps us to improve the product and provide better service.

Happy monitoring with BizTalk360! 😊

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User Access Policy – Switch user types

User Access Policy – Switch user types

It’s almost time to upgrade your BizTalk360 application! We have our new release coming up, BizTalk360 v9.0 with exciting new features and enhancements, as always. For any product to be successful, it is important that the customer feedback is well addressed and acted upon. The product grows based on the customer suggestions to cater their business requirements.

We always make sure the product features meet the customer expectations.

In this blog, I would like to explain about one such enhancement which was requested by many customers.

In the new version BizTalk360 v9.0, you can switch between the user types. Let’s get into the complete details.

Current challenge with User Access policies

Consider a scenario where you have created few normal users and super users in your organization to access BizTalk360. What happens if the person configured as the super user leaves the organization? There would be a situation where a Normal user needs to be given rights as a Super user. In such case, there was no option to convert the user and we will have to delete the user and recreate it again with the necessary permissions. This would be a time-consuming process.

Switch User types

We very well understood the difficulty of the customer and hence decided to enhance this feature in our upcoming release to provide an option to switch between the user types.

Let’s look at this feature in detail.

Normal user to super user

There might arise a situation wherein a normal, user with limited access to BizTalk360, must be made as the Super user for various reasons. In this scenario, deleting the normal user and creating it again would be cumbersome task. To ease this task and make BizTalk360 more user friendly, we have now added the capability to convert the Normal user to a Super user. In the User Interface, by editing the custom user, it can be converted to a Super user, simply by enabling the ‘Is Super User’ toggle button. A confirmation message would appear to confirm the action of conversion.

After the conversion happened, the user will now be a Super User and have access to all the environments.

Super user to normal user

Now what if you need to convert a Super user to a Normal user. In that scenario, you have to decide on the permissions for the normal user. This has been taken care of during the conversion. Once the user confirms on the conversion to the normal user, the capability to add permissions will be displayed and the user can select the access permissions.

 

As the conversion happens in a single step, this will definitely ease the work for the user. By editing the user, the user type can be switched. Now there is no need to worry if there is role change happening for the people in the organisation, or if someone is leaving/joining the company. You can switch between the user types in just a single click.

Edit/Delete option disabled for logged in user

There might arise a question as to what happens if a user who is logged in to BizTalk360 tries to edit /delete himself. It might not be required for a user to be able to edit/delete his own permissions. This might not be a valid scenario. The environment details would be mapped with the logged in user to access the BizTalk artifacts. When that user tries to edit/delete his permissions, an exception would be thrown in this case, as the environment details would not be available for that user. To avoid this exception, the edit/delete option is disabled by default for the logged in users. This information is shown in the UI as per the below screenshot. The logged in user would be able to edit and delete the other users.

Conclusion

At BizTalk360, we always introduce the features that make the product more user friendly and that results in customer satisfaction.  There are lot more features and enhancements coming up in BizTalk360 v9.0. What are you waiting for? Once the new version is released, upgrade to the latest version and enjoy the new features. We are happy to hear your suggestions and feedback which you put in our feedback portal. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

 

The post User Access Policy – Switch user types appeared first on BizTalk360.

BizTalk360 Technical Support – A look back in 2018

BizTalk360 Technical Support – A look back in 2018

As the BizTalk360 technical support team, we receive support tickets from our customers through various channels. 2018 was, of course, a great year for the support team. We were not only involved in resolving the support tickets, but we were also involved in the Customer Relationship calls, Best Practice Installation and Configuration sessions and even some of the demos to the customers.

This makes us understand the customers’ expectations better and help in improving the product to cater to the needs of the customer. As the saying goes, ‘Every ending has a new beginning’, the end of 2018 has brought us new lessons and experiences with various customers and new processes. Every support case has a lesson in it, be it the customer scenario, their infrastructure settings or our way of troubleshooting the case, our responses. We make sure that we improve our support, thereby making our customers happy and working more efficiently.

We are happy to share the stats of the support cases handled by us in 2018. This is the result of our continuous hard work and dedication which has resulted in some really positive numbers in BizTalk360 Customer Support. Here are some statistics that we are happy to share. These statistics are taken from data provided by our customer support platform – Freshdesk.

  • 14.626 customer queries addressed in 2018
  • Tickets ranging across technical support, licensing and sales enquiries
  • The busiest month for the team was the month of October 2018. We received about 2132 support tickets.

  • We managed to respond to 97% of the tickets and resolve 87% of the tickets within the SLA
  • We resolved 76% of the tickets with just one response to the customer
  • We received support tickets on
    • Email
    • Support Portal
    • Feedback Portal

We make sure customer satisfaction is achieved and this can clearly be seen in the numbers for the SLA. Below are the rating and appreciation given by the customers.

Knowledge Sharing

Of course, in the software industry, it is all about teamwork and knowledge sharing. Yes, teamwork is involved in solving each and every support case. One member might analyse the case, the other may test it if required. In 2018, we have started the ‘Support Deliberation’ meetings for knowledge sharing. As an engineering team, not all the members will be involved in product support. Hence it is important that the support team members share their knowledge of the handled support cases, to the team. This will give insight to the team about the various customer scenarios that need to be known so that we can check for the same in our development and testing phases.

Introduction to DevOps practice

This is one of the major changes that happened during 2018. We involved ourselves in the development activities too, the next step in improvising the product to cater to the needs of the customers. The complete process is explained here. From the task planning to post-release validation, we follow all different steps in the process.

Best Practice Installation and Configuration sessions

This is a new initiative taken by the Client Relationship team to help our customers with the installation of BizTalk360 and provide them help in the basic configuration steps that are required for BizTalk360 to start monitoring your BizTalk environment.

This is a two-hour session where BizTalk360 is installed, important configurations are done and an overview of some of the important features of BizTalk360 is given. We also explain to them about some of the best practices that need to be followed in the alarm configuration, Advanced Event viewer setup, Data purging which may, in turn, affect the performance of the application. The knowledge our customers will obtain during this session will help them to get the most out of the product so that they can monitor their BizTalk environment efficiently.

In 2019

We have shifted from Agile to Kanban to record all our activities. We continuously strive to improve ourselves for providing better support thereby trying to resolve customer’s queries on time.

The most awaited event in the Microsoft Integration space, Integrate2019 is on the way. We have this event in two locations this year. The dates and venues are finalized, and the early bird offer ends by March 31st, 2019. You can check for the details here.

Conclusion

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

We would like to request you, our customers, so please take the time to fill this questionnaire. This helps us to prioritize the next upcoming feature tasks and will let us know what your main pain points are. In case of any queries, you can always write to support@biztalk360.com, so that we can immediately get your queries answered and resolve the issues. Happy monitoring with BizTalk360!

 

 

 

The post BizTalk360 Technical Support – A look back in 2018 appeared first on BizTalk360.

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.”