How to run a BizTalk health check that you can show to your boss


No matter how well you’ve built your infrastructure, any BizTalk expert will tell you that once you begin running traffic, you’ll need to optimize your integration engine and ensure it’s scaled appropriately to the capacity you’re sending through.

BizTalk should be more than a black box that only IT can understand

The health of your BizTalk environment shouldn't only be of concern to IT, but to the whole organization.   For many companies, BizTalk is seen as a black box, something only IT can understand, and largely a mystery to top managers. Today, with the explosion of connected apps and systems that need to be integrated, BizTalk has become business-critical to the companies that use it, and any downtime can have a severe business impact.

Therefore, it's important that you visualize   the health of your BizTalk environment to business stakeholders, and show how BizTalk directly supports  your  critical business processes.  To create a complete visual report, you need to  extract a great amount of data from your environment, and have a tool that allows you to create complete graphs and charts that are easy to understand for anyone in your  company.

How to conduct a Biztalk health check

So how do you conduct a BizTalk health check? Well, it's all about extracting enough data to create a meaningful report. What data you extract will vary according to what the purpose of your report is, and who you're reporting to. It could be the overall health of your environment, a specific business process, or you may even want to look at separate ports and orchestrations. The main point to communicate to managers is that BizTalk performance directly impacts business performance.   

Overall, a general health check should include:

  • A review of HW performance counters of servers and networks, and BizTalk-specific performance counters for BizTalk business processes, and ports and orchestrations.
  • A review of overall system behavior and any cyclicality of patterns. Are system cycles/business cycles causing any peak-performance impacts?  Based on the overall growth of the system and throughput – can you forecast limitations in your environment? 
  • That your BizTalk is configured correctly, and according to best practices

Specific performance parameters you may want to extract data from include:

  • CPU, throttling and message count per server
  • Delivery, publishing throttling per host (if you are running low latency or online processes)
  • Stopped components
  • Number of suspended messages and errors
  • Individual business processes (message count and latency)
  • Ports and orchestrations that you wish to highlight - message count, message volume and latency per component

So how do you extract all this data?

Getting enough data from your BizTalk to create elaborate health check reports like this is no easy task. You'll want to gather enough data to create visual reports that can easily be understood by anyone in your company – both business and technical stakeholders.

There are  tools like SCOM available from Microsoft, but since SCOM is primarily focused on servers, using it to gather data and analyze the health of complex environments such as  BizTalk can be an unwieldy task.   

The best option is often to use a third-party monitoring tool like AIMS. These are specifically designed for you to gain the insight you need into your BizTalk environment to prevent any performance issues, and include features like custom dashboards and reports that can help you prepare  visual reports right out of the box.

Free BizTalk health check from AIMS

At AIMS, we offer free health checks of all our clients' BizTalk environments. How can we do this free of charge? AIMS for BizTalk monitors performance in real-time, all the time.  In fact, we can generate a significant amount of the information needed for a health check using only the AIMS Free installation. On top of the data we use internal BizTalk experts to add qualitative comments and recommendations. 

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