Biztalk 2004 Integration Experiences

Saturday, August 27, 2005

First look at Biztalk Server 2006

I did work a little a bit with Biztalk 2006 for the past 2 weeks, but did not get a chance to blog.

1. Setup experience has been simplified a lot, I got it setup in the first install, which was not the case with Biztalk Server 2004. It was great that the missing prerequisite components are downloaded and installed automatically from the Web or from a pre-downloaded CAB file

2. Configuration Wizard has also been updated. There is a new "default configuration option" for Development setup. Basically it just installs the default configuration with least security.

3. The Administration tool has been re-designed and at last it's useful. One thing caught my eye was now you can connect remotely to administer another biztalk server on the network.Cool! The user interface is helpful and now you can group biztalk assemblies as an "Application". This would help a lot in deployment.

4. I noticed that there are few new Advanced (Nil Value & Assert) functiods added to the Biztalk Mapper. Haven't played with it much. Looks like the Assert functiod might be useful for writing debug code in the mapper

5. A bunch of new adapters (MSMQ, POP3, MQSeries, Sharepoint) are now available out of the box. Also Microsoft has purchased new adapters from Iway which would also be included in the next release (I heard that even if you are using Biztalk 2004, you can get these adapters from microsoft if you have software assurance. Hmm nice!).

6. SQL Server 2005 can be used with Biztalk 2006, however I'm not sure whether any SQL 2005 specific features are being used.

7. I did not notice any new shapes with the Orchestration Designer. However zooming capability has been added. Beleive it or not, I think this is the best feature microsoft could have given for the designer!

8. Did not notice any new changes to the Business Rule composer.

That's it for now, rest to come soon...

Friday, August 26, 2005

BizTalk Server 2004 Load Generation Tool

There is a new tool out from microsoft which will help you load test Biztalk Server. You can download it from here.

I downloaded it and played around with it today. Looks cool to me. please note that this should be run only on the test environment.

Happy Testing!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

High Availability - Enterprise SSO Issue

I had to spend last couple of weeks with lot of Server related Issues and was very busy, couldn't blog as before, Anyway I wanted to write about a critical issue I ran into.

We have two Biztalk Servers load balanced in production in the Biztalk Server group. One of the Server (say Server1) is primary, hosts the Master Secret Single Sign-on Server (SSO) and the other (Server2) is secondary. The SQL Server is running on a different server.

This architecture was designed using the Microsoft High Availability White Paper here

The SSO Server was designed to be "Available not Highly Available", See the transcript from the whitepaper below

Available, but not highly available.

All the SSO servers have the master secret cached in memory, and run-time operations will
continue even if the master secret server fails. However, you will not be able to change the
configuration of ports or the SSO configuration. The BizTalk Server runtime will continue
working without problems, but you cannot make any design changes. You can create a
Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) event to notify you when the master secret server
becomes unavailable, and you can then manually promote an SSO server to master secret
server and restore the master secret on this server.

Even if this configuration is not highly available, it can be satisfactory for most scenarios and
it is consistent with scaling out the receiving, sending, and processing hosts.

Unfortunately Production Server1 crashed last week and the Secondary Server (Server2) worked fine as per the documentation. However this server has to be rebooted due to the recent Security Patch install. Once it got re-started, the SSO Service did not start, We got "RPC Server is un-available" error in the Event log.

It took me sometime to realize that the Master SSO Server is needed whenever the secondary (Server2) SSO Service is re-started. To avoid this we have to promote the Secondary (Server2) server as Master SSO Secret Server. This kind of change might not be easy to do in Production, since the protocols involved in getting some configuration changed in Production Servers.

I think the article must have stressed the importance of not to restart the Secondary Server, until the Primary Server is up.

Anyway it was a costly experience to learn.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Biztalk 2006 New Adapters

Loks like Microsoft has bought iway adapters and there might be 8 new adapters added to Biztalk 2006 Release version. Wow!

Check this out

Even though they added so many adapters, I would have been happy if they had a complete adapter for EDI. Well may be Microsoft will do it in the next release