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Planning the Environment for BizTalk Server

The planning section of the operations guide describes roles and responsibilities associated with a BizTalk Server environment. It includes planning recommendations for the application and data tiers of a BizTalk Server environment, and it provides planning recommendations for the release management stages of a BizTalk solution.

As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." While there are certainly exceptions to this sage advice, successful implementation of a production BizTalk solution is not one of them. This introductory topic to the planning section provides a high-level overview of the decisions you should make when planning your BizTalk solution.

BizTalk Server can be thought of as a "business integration engine." At its core, BizTalk Server is designed to integrate disparate business systems, processes, and messages. For example, a business system that exchanges messages that adhere to the EDI standard may need to integrate with a business system that exchanges messages that conform to the RosettaNet standard. Or an internal business system that uses SAP may need to communicate with another internal business system that stores data in a Microsoft SQL Server database. Or perhaps a business system that can only send or receive messages using the FTP protocol needs to exchange messages with a business system that can only use the HTTP protocol.

SQL Server accommodates the integration of such disparate systems by acting as the middleman for message delivery between the systems. BizTalk Server supports a wide range of industry-standard transport protocols, document exchange formats, and line of business applications.

BizTalk Server also provides powerful business process automation capabilities in the BizTalk Orchestration engine. You use BizTalk Orchestration Designer to create visual representations of business processes which can be built into executable code that is run in the BizTalk Orchestration engine.

BizTalk Server also includes several other features that facilitate business integration including a message workflow engine, a Business Rule Engine (BRE), and technologies for information workers such as Business Activity Monitoring (BAM).

For more information about using BizTalk Server business process management functionality, see Microsoft and Business Process Management: A Technology Overview (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106015). To know more about the different integration technologies offered by Microsoft and the advantages one has over the other, see Understanding Microsoft Integration Technologies (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=158452).

Certain integration scenarios are better suited to other Microsoft products. If your primary focus is upon any of the following scenarios, consider using these Microsoft products instead of BizTalk Server:

Scenario Product to use

User provisioning

Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007

For more information about Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=109080.

Data replication between systems

SQL Server Replication

Data extraction, transform, and load (ETL)

SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)

There are four different editions of BizTalk Server 2009, each of which is targeted at specific scenarios. The four editions of BizTalk Server 2009 include:

  • Enterprise - Designed for customers with enterprise-level requirements for high volume, reliability, and availability.

  • Standard - Designed for businesses with moderate volume and deployment scale requirements.

  • Branch - Specialty version of BizTalk Server designed for hub and spoke deployment scenarios including RFID.

  • Developer - Provides all of the functionality of the Enterprise Edition for development and testing purposes. Available as the BizTalk Server 2009 Evaluation Edition at no cost for evaluation purposes. When installed as the Evaluation Edition, BizTalk Server 2009 will function for 120 days.

For more information about the different editions of BizTalk Server 2009, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=108051.

Once you have determined that BizTalk Server meets your business integration needs, the next thing that you should determine is the message load that the BizTalk solution will be expected to process. This is an important decision because different editions of BizTalk Server have different scale-up and scale-out capabilities.

The key to determine message load is to perform load testing to determine the Maximum Sustainable Throughput (MST) and the Maximum Sustainable Tracking Throughput (MSTT) of the BizTalk solution. For more information about measuring maximum sustainable throughput, and performance best practices in general, see the BizTalk Server 2009 Performance Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=150492).

Consider implementing a BizTalk solution using the Enterprise edition of BizTalk Server if you will be adding a significant number of trading partners, will need to use host clustering, or will need to scale out to multiple computers running BizTalk Server in the BizTalk group. The Standard and Branch editions of BizTalk Server do not accommodate multiple computers running BizTalk Server in a group or host clustering.

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