Why did we build Message Box Viewer (MBV)/ BizTalk Health Monitor (BHM) Integration?

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.

Why do we need this feature?

The BizTalk Health monitor (BHM) is the successor of the Message Box Viewer (MBV). Both tools have been developed by Microsoft for health analysis of BizTalk environments. Despite its (former) name Message Box Viewer, the tool checks many more parts of BizTalk Server than just the Message Box database(s).
For example, the tool checks whether:

  • the latest Cumulative Updates are installed
  • relevant hotfixes are installed
  • all kind of configuration (Windows, BizTalk, SQL) is conform best practices, think of
    • Correct Host Configuration
    • Auto-growth settings of your BizTalk databases
    • Unnecessary Tracking switched on
  • your BizTalk databases are in good health
  • the well-being of your BizTalk related SQL jobs
  • there are (relevant) Event Log errors

After Microsoft deprecated the Message Box Viewer software few years ago, they introduced the BizTalk Health Monitor (or BHM). BHM uses the same engine as the Message Box Viewer, but also comes with some improvements. These improvements are mainly related to:

  • Visibility – the BHM software comes with a MMC snap-in, which allows you to have both the BizTalk Server Administration console and the BizTalk Health Monitor software in a single MMC snap-in
  • Scheduling – you can now setup runs of BHM directly in the tool itself. In the background BHM still uses the command line version of the tool and the Windows scheduler to perform the runs. By creating multiple profiles, you can even perform runs for different BizTalk Server environments, from the same instance of BHM.

Just like with the Message Box Viewer, it is advised to run BizTalk Health Monitor on a regular basis. The tool comes with most recent versions of BizTalk Server and needs to be installed on the BizTalk Server. The tool can also be downloaded here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=43716

Once you have installed BHM, you can setup scheduling so you will automatically retrieve health reports in your mailbox.

What are the current challenges?

Although BHM contains important information on the health of your BizTalk environment, it is yet another console you must be aware of. Especially organizations with less knowledge of all the consoles needed to support BizTalk Server, this one can easily be overseen or forgotten, with potentially, catastrophic results.

To be able to access BHM, be it for configuration of the runs of BHM or viewing (historic) reports, you need Remote Desktop access to the BizTalk server on which the BizTalk Health Monitor software is installed. Logging in to the BizTalk server repeatedly is time-consuming and can prevented by using the MBV/BHM integration which is discussed in the next paragraph.

How BizTalk360 solves this problem?

As you probably know, the vision behind BizTalk360 is to provide One platform for BizTalk Server. By providing One platform, aka one user interface, we bring all the different consoles, a BizTalk administrator might need to be able to do his job, under one hood.
For that reason, we already brought integration with Message Box Viewer years ago and updated the integration to support the BizTalk Health Monitor. This integration exists of the following features:

  • Schedule runs of BHM
  • Run BHM profiles
  • Manually run BHM
  • View reports of BHM
  • Monitor the results of BHM runs

Schedule runs of BHM

For many years, BizTalk360 already had integration with the predecessor of BizTalk Health Monitor, being Message Box Viewer. This integration included the scheduling capability, which was brought by BHM, when the tool became available, as well.
So, when we replaced MBV integration with BHM integration, of course we made sure that you would be able to setup BHM schedules from BizTalk360 as well.

Schedule BHM runs

Run BHM Monitoring profiles

BHM allows users to create specific so-called Monitoring profiles, which can be used to execute a subset of all the available queries and rules. This can be used, for example, to monitor just specific components or artifacts.
BizTalk360 allows you to run or monitor on such a profile, by creating such a profile in BHM and manually copying it to the BizTalk360 installation folder. If you want to read more about this capability, read below article:

Getting BizTalk360 to run a BHM Monitoring profile

Manually run BHM

Besides being able to run BHM based on a schedule, as shown in the previous paragraph, you can also run the tool immediately from BizTalk360. By clicking the ‘Run BHM Now’ button (see the picture below), BizTalk360 schedules a run immediately and the results can be checked after the run has been processed.

View reports of BHM

The reports of all the different runs of BHM can be viewed directly in BizTalk360. The screenshot below shows the dropdown from where you can select, which report you would like to see. The most recent report is shown on top.

Storing the output of BHM runs
The BHM reports are stored in the BizTalk360 database and can reside there for a configurable time frame. By default, this time frame is 5 days, but you can choose values between 1 day until any number of days/weeks/months you prefer. Of course, it is wise to not to keep the date for too much time, as this will affect the size of the BizTalk360 database.
After the time frame expired, BizTalk360 will automatically delete the expired reports.

View BHM output

Monitor the results of BHM runs

Besides running and viewing the output of BHM, you can also setup monitoring on the output. This way you can get notified easily of critical and non-critical errors which might be found by BHM.

Monitor on BHM output

In another article of the `Why we built XYZ feature in BizTalk360` series, we`ll explain monitoring of BHM output in more detail.

Conclusion

By executing BizTalk Health Monitor runs, the tool reports about important topics on all kind of health and best practice related stuff. Having MBV/BHM integration in BizTalk360, the product makes it easier to schedule runs of BHM and provides you with easy access to the output of the BHM.

Get started with a Free Trial today!

Do you prefer to setup your BHM schedules and view BHM output in BizTalk360, instead of setting up RDP connections to your BizTalk server? Why not give BizTalk360 a try! Installation takes about 10 minutes on your BizTalk environment. Get started with the free 30 days trial.

 

Author: Lex Hegt

Lex Hegt works in the IT sector for more than 25 years, mainly in roles as developer and administrator. He works with BizTalk since BizTalk Server 2004. Currently he is a Technical Lead at BizTalk360.

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