Why did we build Advanced Tracking Manager in BizTalk360?

|  Posted: January 31, 2018  |  Categories: BizTalk360

Advanced Tracking Manager BizTalk360

This blog is a part of the series of blog articles we are publishing on the topic “Why we built XYZ feature in BizTalk360”. Read the main article here.

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Why do we need this feature?

Message Body and Message Context (properties) tracking is one of the key characteristics of BizTalk Server. A typical flow in BizTalk Server will involve a message that is received from the source system via the receive port, then transmitted to an orchestration (not always) for some business process, and then finally transmitted to the destination systems via the  send ports. During this journey, the original message might have gone through various processing and transformations. It’s important to keep track of all the state changes by logging the message content and context at each change point. BizTalk Server provides this functionality out of the box through a very rich tracking mechanism at various points of the journey.

You can track the message body, properties and events at various points as shown below.

Receive Port & Send Port (One way)

  • Message Bodies  – before and after port processing
  • Message Context  – before and after port processing

Receive Port & Send Port (Two way)

  • Message Bodies (Request) – before and after port processing
  • Message Context (Request) – before and after port processing
  • Message Bodies (Response) – before and after port processing
  • Message Context (Response) – before and after port processing

Orchestration

  • Message Bodies – before and after orchestration processing
  • Message Properties – incoming and outgoing messages
  • Track Events – Orchestration start and end
  • Track Events – Message send and receive
  • Track Events – Shape start and end

Pipeline

  • Message Bodies – before and after pipeline processing
  • Track Event – Port start and end
  • Track Event – Message send and receive

Business Rule Policy

  • Fast Activity – track instance data
  • Condition Evaluation – true/false results of condition
  • Rule Firing – actions started as result of policy
  • Agenda updates

Schemas

  • Promoted Properties

As you can see, BizTalk Server provides a very rich tracking framework and mechanism to track pretty much anything that goes through the system. It also gives the end customer full control of what data/property/event needs to be tracked at precise points in the message flow.

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What are the current challenges?

Even though BizTalk Server comes with a strong framework for Tracking, the management capabilities of tracking settings is not ideal in the standard BizTalk Admin Console.

Central Management: In the BizTalk Admin Console, there is no option for you to visualize the tracking configuration of all the entities (like receive port, pipeline, orchestration etc.) from a single place. If you wanted to view or change a tracking setting, you need to manually visit each entity  and make required changes.

Bulk Actions: You cannot perform bulk actions like changing the tracking settings of all the entities with a single click.

Undesired Tracking Configuration: Often times when the BizTalk applications are migrated from development or QA environments to production, the tracking settings are also copied unwittingly (during export/import binding files). In the development and QA environment you typically have more tracking, but in production you’ll have only required minimum tracking due to performance reasons.

How BizTalk360 solves this problem?

BizTalk360 addresses all the above challenges with the “Advanced Tracking Manager” functionality.

biztalk360-tracking-manager

As you can see from the above screenshot, BizTalk360 provides a single unified view of the tracking configuration in a single place with easy to understand colour coding. You can easily make bulk changes with an almost single click. You can visit the Advanced Tracking Manager at any time and see the level of tracking you have for the environment.

We have noticed interesting customer scenarios where they typically turn off all tracking for performance reasons and the moment they need to identify some problem, they enable required tracking via Advanced Tracking  Manager and turn it off once the diagnosis is done.

In another customer scenario, as part of the deployment process checklist, they check the tracking settings in the environment after each BizTalk Application deployment. This reduces the risk of having unwanted tracking settings in their production environment.

If you are interested, there is a more detailed article on all the capabilities of Advanced Tracking Manager.

Download a PDF version of this article.

Get started with a Free Trial today!

If you are struggling with all the above mentioned challenges, why not give BizTalk360 a try. It takes about 10 minutes to install on your BizTalk environments and you can witness and check the security and productivity on your own BizTalk Environments. Get started with the free 30 days trial.

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Author: Saravana Kumar

Saravana Kumar is the Founder and CTO of BizTalk360, an enterprise software that acts as an all-in-one solution for better administration, operation, support and monitoring of Microsoft BizTalk Server environments.

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