This was a guest post by Michael Stephenson. Michael Stephenson is a UK based integration specialist who has worked with many consultancies and customers delivering integration solutions based on Microsoft technologies such as BizTalk and Windows Azure.Michael is heavily involved in community activities such as the UK Connected Systems User Group and speaking at events across Europe. Michael has also been a Microsoft Integration MVP for the past 5 years.
Recently I’ve recommended BizTalk360 for one of my client and they purchased the product. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how best a company should configure their alerts in BizTalk360. When I was playing around with it and set up alerts I ended up with a very large and detailed email each day summarizing the environment which was brilliant. I could start the day very happy in the knowledge that my BizTalk environment was running nicely. The only problem with the email was it was a little too detailed and actually I may want to focus different information to different parties. This lead me to set up multiple alerts and I thought I would share them for everyone.
My approach was to think about the personas who would be interested in an email alert from BizTalk360 and what information they would want. I know that also there would be some overlap between the information in the email for different persona’s but this is what you would expect. This is how I configured it.
The Infrastructure Alarm is really aimed at your ops guys. Your BizTalk Admin will probably be interested in this too. Its focus is to look at the machine level aspects of the BizTalk and SQL Server machines and to inform you of their state and any issues.
When I configured this alarm I set it up to run once per day at 8am and to tell me the following:
- Is the disk space on each server healthy
- Is the CPU and Memory generally healthy
- Are all of the underlying non BizTalk specific services in the states I expect them to be
- Are there any event log messages related to non BizTalk specific issues that I should be concerned about
In addition to the daily email, this alarm would also fire on demand if a threshold was broken which was quite important. One of the cases where you may use this would be if you found an infrastructure of operating system issue and you noticed something in the event log. You could then add an event log monitor to inform you of this.
With this alarm there may be some overlap with other monitoring software that your ops team may use but I think having BizTalk360 also tell you there is a problem isn’t a bad thing. Your just covering all bases.
BizTalk Platform Alarm
The BizTalk Platform Alarm is aimed at the BizTalk Administrator. The alarm will be watching non BizTalk application specific things across the platform. The types of thing this will be monitoring includes:
- Are the SQL Jobs healthy
- Are all of the BizTalk hosts/host instances healthy
- Is the spool size healthy (using the Database Monitor) for my organization
- Are there any BizTalk/SQL or other events in the event log which I need to be informed of
- There may be some specific application things the admin wants to monitor here too
These are some of the core elements of interest to the BizTalk Administrator and there will be others you would like to add I am sure.
BizTalk General Application Alarm
The BizTalk general application alarm is aimed at the people who are interested in the state of the BizTalk applications. This would be most likely to be the BizTalk operators. Your BizTalk Admin would probably want to be included too just to keep an eye on things, but the information is really to give the general operators an overview of the applications.
In this alarm you will be focused on the expected state of each application. Things like orchestrations which should be stopped or started and suspended messages and other such things.
In some organisations you may have a very simple BizTalk implementation where you can use the basic Application tab to take the default application settings, but in other organisations if you use BizTalk a lot you will probably use the Advanced tab and configure each BizTalk application to have a slightly different expected state.
Often in an organization your management team will want to know BizTalk is in a healthy state. Creating an alarm aimed at managers can be a good way to give them a daily report of the health of the system and allow them to see this in the BizTalk360 dashboard. One of the key things with this report is you probably aren’t interested in the underlying detail and want to just give an overview.
In practice this alarm may produce an email similar to the general application alarm so you may just reuse that alarm, or alternatively you may wish to make some of the settings slightly different. For example you may want the management team to see a warning if there are over 100 suspended messages in your BizTalk application but you want your support team to see a warning when there are over 50 suspended messages so they can make sure its dealt with inside of the Service Level Agreement.
BizTalk Specific Application Alarm
Sometimes you may create specific application alarms. An example of when you might do this is if you have a BizTalk application which deals with the HR processes. You may create an alarm to send health information to the HR team on a daily basis. They wouldn’t be interested in any other application so this would work well.
Likewise another example would be where your BizTalk Administrator would create an alarm specific to an application that was problematic. This would allow monitoring this in isolation through sensitive times.
As you can see above BizTalk360 lets you create some quite powerful monitoring scenarios to target the right information to the right people. I quite like the idea personally of coming into the office each day to get 2 or 3 simple emails giving me a focused breakdown of the health of different aspects of my BizTalk system in a way where I don’t have to breakdown a complicated report.
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