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Monitoring the BizTalk Server Environment

You can monitor BizTalk Server infrastructure and applications with a manual or automatic process, or a combination of the two methods, using the tools as shown in the following table.

Manual or Automated Monitoring Tools

Automated Monitoring

  • Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 (MOM 2005)

  • System Center Operations Manager 2007 (Operations Manager 2007)

Manual Monitoring

  • The Group Hub page in the BizTalk Server Administration console

  • Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool

  • Event Viewer

Whether or not you implement a monitoring application, you should use the BizTalk Server Administration console to monitor the health of your BizTalk Server applications and perform root-cause analysis to identify the underlying cause of any problems.

When monitoring BizTalk Server, keep these points in mind:

  • Your infrastructure could be healthy, but your applications might not be (for example, they are receiving invalid messages and are unable to process them).

  • Your infrastructure could be unhealthy, but your applications might be running fine (for example, if a server is down, but there are enough servers assigned to the host to take over the load).

  • An infrastructure problem could surface as an application problem (for example, messages are not being processed fast enough because a server is down).

Monitoring your BizTalk Server and applications falls into four main categories:

  • Availability monitoring

  • Health monitoring

  • Performance monitoring

  • Threshold monitoring

Availability Monitoring

Availability monitoring answers the question "Is the unavailability of a system or application resource preventing your BizTalk Server applications from running optimally?" These issues are almost exclusively system-level, such as availability of services and connections. For example, if an adapter is failing because the Enterprise Single Sign-On service is stopped, this is an availability issue. If one of the servers assigned to a host has failed and your application is falling behind on processing messages, you have an availability issue. Likewise, if an application is stopped and is unable to process messages, you have an availability issue. The following table lists the availability monitoring tools.

Tool Task

BizTalk Server Administration console

Check the Group Hub page in the BizTalk Server Administration console to see if applications or their components (ports/orchestrations) are stopped.

MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007

The BizTalk Server 2006 management pack and MOM Operator console displays alerts if critical low-level services such as adapters are unavailable. To effectively monitor BizTalk Server, you must monitor non-BizTalk Server resources that your applications depend on, such as databases and servers. In addition, you must also install and use the SQL Server, Internet Information Services, and Windows Base OS Management Packs. MOM consolidates events of interest from event logs, WMI, and other event providers.

Event Viewer

Look for adapter connection issues, stopped services, and so on.

Health Monitoring

Health monitoring helps you answer the question, "Are any of my applications or resources in bad health?" For example, are any of my applications or their constituent artifacts currently experiencing exception conditions? Or, are messages suspended because of invalid data in the message payload? The following table shows health-monitoring tools.

Tool Task

BizTalk Server Administration console

You will use the Group Hub page and query pages in the BizTalk Server Administration console to identify application health problems and analyze their cause(s).

MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007

The BizTalk Server management pack is your first line of defense to notify you that you have suspended messages and/or service instances in your BizTalk Server applications. After receiving notification from MOM or Operations Manager, you can transition to the BizTalk Server Administration console to troubleshoot the problem.

Event Viewer

Detect problems that occur during the processing of messages and orchestrations.

Performance Monitoring

Performance monitoring answers the question, "How efficiently is the system performing its work?" This kind of monitoring focuses primarily on the load on physical resources like databases and disks. For example, if the CPU utilization is consistently at 90 to 100 percent and a backlog of messages is forming, this is a performance issue at the computer level. The following table shows performance-monitoring tools.

Tool Task

SQL Query Analyzer

Monitor database size and content to diagnose system problems.

MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007

The BizTalk Server management pack and MOM Operator console/Operations Manager Operations console can be configured to display alerts if critical BizTalk Server performance counters such as the Message Box Q size or Host Q size exceed the defined thresholds. To monitor the performance of non-BizTalk Server resources that your applications depend on, such as databases and servers, you must also install and use the SQL Server, Internet Information Services, and Windows Base OS Management Packs.

BizTalk Server Administration console

The Group Hub page shows key performance metrics such as the number of service instances currently active, dehydrated, ready to run, scheduled, suspended, etc. in your BizTalk Server applications.

Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)

You can specify specific stages in your business process for which you want to track key performance indicators pertinent to your business application. Using BAM, you can monitor business metrics as well as IT metrics (for example, SLA's and execution times).

Threshold Monitoring

Customized threshold rules are an essential element in a mature operations environment. You can create many of these threshold rules in MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007. These threshold rules are typically based on the requirements of the BizTalk application. The Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool can streamline the process of determining the correct values for these thresholds for your environment. The PAL tool comes with some base threshold values that can serve as the core of the data that is used for MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007. Implementing those threshold rules in MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007 allows for automated monitoring. In addition, an administrator can setup notification rules and can perform actions based on the triggering of a threshold rule (such as running a script, calling .NET code, sending e-mail, etc.). The following table shows threshold-monitoring tools.

Tool Task

Performance Analysis of Logs (PAL) tool

The PAL tool automatically reports when performance counters are beyond thresholds. The thresholds dynamically change to be appropriate for the environment of the server. For example, the kernel memory pool thresholds change based on the answers that the user provides about 32-bit/64-bit architecture, amount of physical memory, and /3GB switch. The PAL tool can be downloaded for free at http://www.codeplex.com/PAL.

MOM 2005 or Operations Manager 2007

The BizTalk Server management pack and MOM Operator Console/Operations Manager Operations console can be configured to display alerts if critical BizTalk Server counters exceed the defined thresholds.

Once you are aware of a health problem with your BizTalk Server applications, you can use the Group Hub page and Query pages in the BizTalk Server Administration console to analyze the problem. The BizTalk Server Administration console provides an integrated configuration, deployment and troubleshooting experience, and you can fix configuration and deployment related problems within the Administration console after you have pinpointed them. Typically, most application problems are due to messages not getting through as expected (this can manifest as suspended service instances, or retrying ports, or dehydrated instances that have not been reactivated, etc.)

You can use the Group Hub page and Query pages to group your service instances (whatever state they are in: running, suspended, dehydrated, etc) by application, error type, service type, host, etc, to isolate the different errors, investigate them one by one, and fix them. You can also open Health and Activity Tracking (HAT) from within the BizTalk Server Administration console, to investigate the history of a message flow, or the history of execution of an orchestration or rule set. HAT contains historical data about your BizTalk Server applications.

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