For those who spend most of their time working with Service Instance messages, ESB exceptions and Event Log entries, it might be good to know that BizTalk360 can ease you with the feature “Knowledge Base”. The Knowledge Base acts as a repository of articles that contain solutions to the common problems which are faced by users while working/supporting the BizTalk environment. One of the great advantages of the Knowledge Base is that you can store the information related to the exact error condition and share that with other users for reference.
In BizTalk360 you can create and refer KB articles for the following sections:
- Service Instances
- Event Log entries
- ESB Exceptions
- Throttling Data
Importance of having KB article
A knowledge-base is the one thing that can be instantly useful for both your support agents and customers. Support agents can refer to the knowledge base and answer the customer queries quickly, instead of spending time asking someone for guidance or trying multiple solutions. Customers can search for answers to their questions in the knowledge base, instead of contacting Support and waiting for a reply.
By having KB articles, it is very handy to document the solution to known issues, and most importantly it is fully customizable and easy to document. It’s a simple and intuitive user interface, through which the users will enjoy using this repository.
Let us consider a scenario that will help us to understand the importance of KB Articles a bit more. In an organization, not every user will be available on time for providing guidance. Some may be remote users, for whom the Knowledge Base will act as a self-service hub that will hold the referral documents or solutions.
Say for instance, while handling support, some issue has been raised and solved for a customer. After a while, another user has raised a support ticket for the same issue. In case the solution to the issue has been documented, this kind of situation can be handled much more effectively and less- time-consuming.
BizTalk related KB articles
When an issue occurs in BizTalk which ends up as a Suspended instance, it will hold an error code. By using this as a key point, you can document the solution for each issue. If needed, you can even use criteria like BizTalk application, Service name and (parts of) the Error Description to associate an article to an issue. Similarly, BizTalk360 will also let you document issues related to Event Log entries, Throttling data, and ESB exceptions.
Let me share with you a support case which we have handled recently. In a firm, we often used to upgrade our setup. While setting up the environment, we may face similar issues that occur frequently. Whenever any configuration related issue occurs it will be logged in the event viewer, along with the Description and Event Id. Say for instance, if the BizTalk server throws an “MSDTC” or “ENTSSO” exception while performing any operation. Using that Event Id, you can create a BizTalk360 KB article, through which you are providing visibility over the issue, which can be referred to in future cases.
Note: In the case of Event Log entries, BizTalk360 associates KB articles based on the Event ID. However, as the Event ID might not be enough to uniquely associate a KB article to a particular Event Log entry, you can also use properties like Event Log, Event Log Source, and few other properties. You can even take partial text from the actual Event Log entry description!
Similarly, BizTalk Server continually monitors for throttling conditions, calculates the severity of the throttling condition, and applies host throttling progressively depending on the calculated severity. To handle this, BizTalk360 contains an Analytics (Windows NT) service specifically to collect the throttling performance counter data from the various BizTalk servers in the environment. Throttling activity of a host instance is being monitored and at a point in time, the monitoring service plots the throttling state against, for example, the ‘System Memory’. Once the reason and a mitigation strategy are identified for the throttling, as a best practice, the information can be documented in a KB article.
Service instances can fail due to some error and BizTalk attaches the error with an error code and an error description. In the same way, other service instances can fail for the same reason as the previous one. I.e, if there is a suspended message, you can find the error code for the same. The error code 0xC0C01B4e represents routing failure messages.
With the BizTalk360 knowledge base, you can document the solution by referring to amongst others the error code and the error description. Once the Knowledge Base article is defined for one error code, event log, etc., it will be visible across all environments. In BizTalk360, whenever the issue occurs with the documented error code etc., then the user can see the KB article icon. By clicking on the properties (or eye icon), you can find the document under the KB article tab with the reason/solution you have created.
When creating multiple articles for the same error code, select the appropriate tags (Environment, Service Class, Application Name, Error Text, Host Name, Service Status, Service Name) for the error code. The tags will play the differentiator role to display the appropriate KB article.
Note: BizTalk360 allows super users to create KB articles specific to one environment. All the users in that environment will be able to see the articles.
Best practice of using the KB article
- Whenever an issue occurs and became resolved, make a practice to always document the solution in a KB article.
- Keep the Titles of the KB articles as straight forward as possible, the simpler, the more is it understandable. Ensure it is to the point and include the most important keywords.
- Formatting solution articles is extremely important. Clearly, differentiate your titles and subtitles. Split different sections using a horizontal line. Bold the action items in each step so it’s easy for the user to skim. Provide the step by step details of the solution.
- Refer to the link related to the article.
- Be descriptive with relevant points.
- Tag the article to have clear usage and better reference.
With the above-mentioned tips, you can make your KB articles a well understandable document.
With the Knowledge Base feature, we provide visibility over resolved issues and the same can be brought into the notice to all the users. With this feature, we can improve the visibility of issues and reduce time consumption in solving the issues which will lead to higher productivity.