We recently encountered an issue on one of our BizTalk 2004 Groups that took quite a long time to figure out, so I thought I would post about this for self future reference and also in case anyone else ever stumbles across the same problem.

The group configuration consisted of two BizTalk servers, two SQL Servers clustered in an active/passive mode, one of these containing the Message Box the other hosting the other BizTalk databases. We also had a separate Analysis Services database.

Once everything had been installed and BizTalk was configured we noticed we were getting intermittent errors simply when browsing the adapters within the BizTalk Administration Console. These were related to transactions, as shown in the following capture:

Numerous checks were made to ascertain that MSDTC was functioning correctly and had the correct security settings. Generally, if you experience any errors that mention transaction in the description you first point of call should be to make sure that the MSDTC security settings are not restricting you. However, in our case this was all working fine and running tests using DTCPing, DTCTester and the like did not reveal anything either.

The other interesting (or should I say frustrating) aspect of this error was due to its intermittent regularity. This made it particularly difficult to debug. However, once we installed an orchestration on the server the error become more prevalent. We could now replicate a similar error on demand by simply attempting to stop an orchestration within BizTalk Administrator, with an error “A connection with the transaction manager was lost”.

After various investigations and discussions with PSS a short-term fix was found where taking the Management Database cluster resource offline, bringing it back online and restarting the SQL Server would solve the problem.

However the actual issue has been addressed with Windows 2003 SP1 (which was not installed on these servers), so if you have that applied you are in luck. If you cannot apply Windows 2003 SP1 though you must install the following HotFix that addresses the issue: