More BizTalk

We took a closer look at the Dashboard Settings in the BizTalk Admin Console. There are 3 main categories that you can configure:

  • Group Configurations
  • Host Configurations
  • Host Instance Configurations

Probably the most compelling setting allows you to control the polling interval when connecting to the MessageBox for new messages. You even have the ability to configure these settings based upon a Messaging or Orchestration scenario at the Host level. In the demo, we saw a simple Receive and Respond scenario. The default configuration setting is to have BizTalk connect to the MessageBox every 500 ms. This message took .68 seconds to be processed end to end. The Polling interval was then changed to 10 ms and the message took .09 seconds to process. Some pretty dramatic improvements. The end result is that the BizTalk Host Instances are not waiting as long for their next polling interval so messages will be processed more frequently. These actions are not without some risk though. The more frequently you poll, the more stress you put on you SQL Server database so mileage will vary.

The portability of the Dashboard settings were also demonstrated. You now have the ability to export and import your configuration settings across environments so you are not manually tweaking on several servers. You also have the ability to script the import and export of these settings

The new BizTalk Management Pack for SCOM was demonstrated. They have rebuilt this MP from the ground up and now include 2 separate views:

  • Application
  • Deployment

The Application view focuses on artifacts that would typically be addressed by BizTalk developers. So if you have a message that failed in a pipeline or a retrying sent port then you would find them in this view. More infrastructure related items would be found in the Deployment view. So if you had a database or host instance offline, you will find these types of alerts in the Deployment view.

Unfortunately, the new SCOM pack will only work with BizTalk 2010 so if you are still on BizTalk 2009 or previous, you cannot use this MP. The good news is that the MP will ship with BizTalk 2010 so there will be no gap between those two products and their release dates.

Other bits

  • The support for SQL 2005 and Windows 2003 is gone for BizTalk 2010
  • BizTalk 2009 (and earlier) will not be certified for Windows Server 2008 R2.
  • Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) Portal will support 64 bit app pools – Not exactly true, please see comment by Rahul for further clarification
  • BizTalk Admin Console is still not a native 64bit app. You can run in WOW mode on 64 bit machine though

BizTalk Business to Business integration

I later sat in on a B2B presentation that discussed EDI and Trading Partner Management. I have not had a lot of exposure to these 2 features of BizTalk so it was interesting to get a look under the hood. The TPM management is greatly improved and is more intuitive to use as you can now group Business Units under a Parent entity.

They also discussed the BizTalk Mapper since EDI schemas tend to be large and complex. Leveraging new features like Search, Indicative Match, copy and pasting functiods, highlighting selected nodes and links goes along way.

The enhanced FTP adapter was discussed and here are some of the core features:

  • Support for Read Only Receive scenarios
  • FTPS protocol is now supported
  • Improved performance when connecting to AIX systems
  • Atomic Sends for Text files

Communications Server 14

Office Communications Server (OCS) has been rebranded to just Communications Server or “CS 14”. I am not that familiar(at a deep technical level) with OCS and related technologies but since we do use it I thought I would check out the Q and A session that deals with interoperability.

I think it is pretty safe to say that this industry is in a state of transition. You have traditional telecom companies like Cisco and Avaya who are trying to hold onto their footprint and then you have Microsoft who is very hungry in this vertical. The frustrating part is that these companies have so much at stake that they are not collaborating much (from what I can see) and that leaves customers who have a blend of this technology frustrated as it is tough to develop roadmaps with so much changing. It may be a good idea to sit on the sidelines for a year to see how this all shakes out.

View from the BizTalk Booth

More great conversations at the BizTalk booth:

  • An Infrastructure Architect wanted to know what impact BizTalk has on his environment since his organization is planning on implementing BizTalk
  • Another attendee is looking and managing the provisioning of Datacenter assets through BizTalk. He wanted BizTalk to host services that would expose functions like “deploy Windows Server”, “Deploy SQL Server”, “Deploy Application ’x’ to Server ’y’”. It was a very interesting discussion about how they wanted to provision systems to their private cloud.
  • More questions about using the BizTalk Mapper activity in WF
  • There genuinely seems to be interest in BizTalk. Perhaps people are just being polite, but a lot of people are talking about introducing BizTalk to their environment(s).