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Planning the Development, Testing, Staging, and Production Environments

This topic discusses the environments used in the release management process for a BizTalk solution. As with any enterprise software solution, you should follow established software release management guidelines when you develop and release a BizTalk solution. This process should include the following distinct stages:

  • Development

  • Testing

  • Staging

  • Production

Ideally, you should complete each stage in the release management process in a discrete environment, separate from the other environments. Realistically, you may have to combine one or more of the environments due to hardware, time, or other resource constraints. At a bare minimum you should separate the production environment from the other environments.

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The latest installation and upgrade instructions for BizTalk Server 2005 R2 are available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=81041.

Consider completing development, unit testing, and staging in a Microsoft Virtual Server environment. Virtual Server 2005 R2 is available as a free download at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=71365. Performing development work, unit testing, and staging in a Virtual Server environment offers great flexibility and uses considerably fewer hardware resources than required otherwise. If Virtual Server is used, allocate at least 512 MB of memory for each virtual machine that is running on the host computer and an additional 512 MB of memory for the host operating system.

For example, for a BizTalk Server environment that uses five virtual machines (two computers running BizTalk Server, two Microsoft SQL Server cluster nodes, and one domain controller), you would plan to have 3 GB of memory installed on the host computer. If the BizTalk Server environment requires more than 2 GB of memory, consider installing a 64-bit version of Windows on the host computer to ensure that the maximum amount of installed memory is accessible by the host operating system.

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BizTalk Server 2006 and BizTalk Server 2006 R2 are fully supported when they are installed on a supported operating system that is running on Microsoft Virtual Server 2005. However, BizTalk Server 2006 and BizTalk Server 2006 R2 may not perform as expected if you have installed the software on a supported operating system that is running on a virtual machine (VM) other than Virtual Server 2005. For more information see Microsoft Knowledge Base Article "BizTalk Server 2006 and BizTalk Server 2004 supportability on a virtual machine" at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/842301.

The BizTalk projects that are used for the BizTalk solution are created in the development environment. You should install the following software on the computers used in the BizTalk Server development environment:

  • Internet Information Services (IIS)

  • Visual Studio 2005

  • SQL Server 2005 Client Tools

  • BizTalk Server (including the following components)

    • Documentation

    • Administrative tools

    • Developer tools and SDK

    • Additional software

  • SQL Server, if the BizTalk Server databases are to be hosted locally during development.

  • Typically developers should have their own development computer (physical or virtual) with the necessary software installed.

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We recommend that you purchase and use MSDN subscription licenses for non-production environments. MSDN subscription licenses are offered at a significant discount from the cost of a retail license for the same software. For more information about obtaining an MSDN subscription see "MSDN Subscriptions" at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=96006.

Unit testing can be completed in a Virtual Server environment. You should, however, conduct your performance testing in a physical environment with hardware and software that is identical to the production environment.

The testing environment is used to measure performance characteristics such as maximum sustainable throughput (MST) and maximum sustainable tracking throughput of the BizTalk solution. It should therefore match the physical production environment as closely as possible. For more information about measuring performance characteristics of a BizTalk solution see "Engine Performance Characteristics" in BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Help at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=102622.

You typically use the staging environment to "unit test" the actual deployment of the BizTalk solution. The software installed in the staging environment should closely match the software installed in the production environment. It may, however, be acceptable to use computers running Virtual Server in the staging environment since this environment is not to be used for measuring performance. For more information about deploying a BizTalk application to a staging environment see "Staging Tasks for BizTalk Application Deployment" in BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Help at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=103092.

The production environment is the "live" environment that will host the running BizTalk solution. The production environment is the final endpoint in the release management process and should only host BizTalk applications that have previously undergone development, unit testing, load testing, and staging in the other environments. Thorough unit testing, load testing, and staging beforehand will help ensure maximum performance and uptime for the BizTalk application in the production environment.

The following guidelines provide a rule of thumb for the number of BizTalk servers and SQL servers you should allocate to each stage in the release management process given a particular number of physical computers expected to be used in production: They are rough estimates which are subject to change depending on your architecture.

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Virtual servers may be used in the development and in the staging environment and can also be used for unit testing. All performance testing should be performed on physical hardware that matches the physical hardware in the production environment.

BizTalk servers used in production (physical hardware recommended) Development servers (virtual or physical hardware) Testing servers (physical hardware recommended) Staging servers (virtual or physical hardware) Total no. of BizTalk servers

1

2

1

1

5

2

2

2

1

7

3

2

3

1

9

4

2

4

1

11

Estimated SQL servers used in production (physical hardware recommended) Development servers (virtual or physical hardware) Testing servers (physical hardware recommended) Staging servers (virtual or physical hardware) Total no. of SQL servers

1

1

1

1

4

2

1

2

1

6

3

2

3

1

9

4

2

4

1

11

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