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?
Microsoft shipped the ESB Toolkit back in 2007-2008 that extends the functionality of Microsoft BizTalk Server to provide a range of new capabilities for building SOA/ESB applications that incorporate things like itinerary based invocation for lightweight service composition without using Orchestrations, dynamic resolution of endpoints maps, Web services, exception management and reporting. They also provided a sample “ESB Exception Management” web application along with the toolkit.
The ESB Toolkit created a love/hate relationship with a lot of BizTalk Server customers even though it added a lot of value addition to BizTalk Server (as an add-on) while in some cases it simply complicated the solution.
The one thing that everyone loved about ESB Toolkit is the Exception Management framework and the sample web application that shipped with the Toolkit. Since the Exception Management part addressed two important challenges in an integration solution in an end-to-end Exception management framework, visualizing it in a web portal and ability to edit/resubmit failed messages, which were missing in BizTalk Server core.
What are the current challenges?
Sample Portal: The Exception Management Framework itself is a stable offering and fully supported by Microsoft. However, the portal that shipped with the ESB Toolkit is a “sample web application” built on top of the ESB Exception Database. It’s not fully supported by Microsoft and it’s kind of a half-baked solution with a lot of bugs.
Difficult to Install and Configure: Typically it takes few hours to one or two days to install and configure the ESB Exception management portal. It’s not maintained or updated as required over the years, and it uses certain components like older versions of “.NET Logging Application Blocks” that makes server level changes and affects your main BizTalk Solutions.
Missing Functionalities: As the ESB Exception Portal was shipped as a simple sample web application, it’s not matured and misses some important capabilities like “Bulk Edit/Resubmit” and functional alerting. Bulk edit/resubmit is very important since when there is a failure in your environment, you’ll typically have 10’s-100’s of failed messages for the same reason and you wanted to take bulk action.
The other important missing aspect is restricting users by permission and auditing, an example – you probably do not want all of your support people to have the ability to edit and resubmit messages. Even if they do, you need to have the traceability of who performed that action.
How BizTalk360 solves this problem?
We wanted to address the challenges highlighted above and also wanted to give a rich unified tooling experience for BizTalk Administrators. Hence we built the ESB Exception Management portal within BizTalk360 from the ground up. All you need to configure the ESB Exception management within BizTalk360 is to simply provide the connection string to your ESB exception database relevant to your BizTalk Environment. That’s it! You are set (takes about 3 minutes).
Since we built the ESB Exception Management portal from the ground up, we have thought through all the challenges in the sample portal and addressed them. It comes with the following set of features
- Rich ESB Exception Dashboard (utilizing our powerful customizable dashboard framework)
- Full Search/Filter/Display of exception details
- Edit Resubmit – both single and multiple records
- Download Messages – you can either download or email exception messages directly from the portal.
- Integrated Knowledgebase – you can associate a Knowledgebase article with known exceptions
- Security – ability to restrict user either to the full ESB portal section or allow them to do specific tasks like edit/resubmit
- Governance & Auditing – all the core activities like editing/resubmit by the users are audited.
- Rich Functional alerting – ex: if there are over 30 errors matching a specific error code in an application alert the administrator.
One of the other important objectives of BizTalk360 is to reduce the number of different tools the BizTalk Administrator has to use to support their BizTalk solution – tools such as Admin Console, BAM Portal, ESB Portal, SQL Management Studio, Perfmon and so on. This makes them totally unproductive and switch context between different applications. It is also difficult to on-board new people and bring them up to speed.
By bringing the ESB Exception Management portal within BizTalk360, we eliminate the need to use the sample ESB portal that comes with the toolkit.
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.