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I recently needed to put forward a proposal for a BizTalk 2009 implementation and as a part of this needed to describe some of the basic architecture options available for consideration.  While I already had an idea of the type of environment that I would be looking to recommend, I felt that presenting a range of options while trying to explain some of the strengths and weaknesses of those options was a good place to start.  These outline architecture options should be equally valid for any version of BizTalk Server from 2004, through 2006 and R2, up to 2009.
 
The following diagram shows a crude representation of the common implementation options to consider when designing a BizTalk environment.
 
 
 
 
Each of these options provides differing levels of resilience in the case of failure or disaster, with the later options also providing more scope for performance tuning and scalability.
 
Some of the options presented above make use of clustering. Clustering may best be described as a technology that automatically allows one physical server to take over the tasks and responsibilities of another physical server that has failed. Given that all computer hardware and software will eventually fail, the goal of clustering is to ensure that mission-critical applications will have little or no downtime when such a failure occurs. Clustering can also be configured to provide load balancing, which should generally lead to performance gains and increased capacity and throughput.
 
(A) Single Servers
 
This option is the most basic BizTalk implementation that should be considered. It involves the deployment of a single BizTalk server in conjunction with a single SQL server. This configuration does not provide for any resilience in the case of the failure of either server. It is however the cheapest and easiest to implement option of those available.
 
Using a single BizTalk server does not provide for the level of performance tuning that is otherwise available when using more than one BizTalk server in a cluster.
 
The common edition of BizTalk used in single server implementations is the standard edition. It should be noted however that if future demand requires increased capacity for a solution, this BizTalk edition is limited to scaling up the implementation and not scaling out the number of servers in use. Any need to scale out the solution would require an upgrade to the enterprise edition of BizTalk.
 
(B) Single BizTalk Server with Clustered SQL Servers
 
This option uses a single BizTalk server with a cluster of SQL servers. By utilising clustered SQL servers we can ensure that there is some resilience to the implementation in respect of the databases that BizTalk relies on to operate. The clustering of two SQL servers is possible with the standard edition but to go beyond this would require the enterprise level edition. While this option offers improved resilience over option (A) it does still present a potential single point of failure at the BizTalk server.
 
Using a single BizTalk server does not provide for the level of performance tuning that is otherwise available when using more than one BizTalk server in a cluster.
 
The common edition of BizTalk used in single server implementations is the standard edition. It should be noted however that if future demand requires increased capacity for a solution, this BizTalk edition is limited to scaling up the implementation and not scaling out the number of servers in use. You are also unable to take advantage of multiple message boxes, which would allow us to balance the SQL load in the event of any bottlenecks in this area of the implementation. Any need to scale out the solution would require an upgrade to the enterprise edition of BizTalk.
 
(C) Clustered BizTalk Servers with Clustered SQL Servers
 
This option makes use of a cluster of BizTalk servers with a cluster of SQL servers to offer high availability and resilience in the case of failure of either of the server types involved. Clustering of BizTalk is only available with the enterprise edition of the product. Clustering of two SQL servers is possible with the standard edition but to go beyond this would require the enterprise level edition. 
 
The use of a BizTalk cluster also provides for the ability to balance load across the servers and gives more scope for performance tuning any implemented solutions. It is also possible to add more BizTalk servers to an existing cluster, giving scope for scaling out the solution as future demand requires.
 
This might be seen as the middle cost option, providing a good level of protection in the case of failure, a decent level of future proofing, but at a higher cost than the single BizTalk server implementations.
 
(D) Clustered BizTalk Servers with Clustered SQL Servers – with disaster recovery/service continuity
 
This option is similar to that offered by (C) and makes use of a cluster of BizTalk servers with a cluster of SQL servers to offer high availability and resilience in case of failure of either of the server types involved. Clustering of BizTalk is only available with the enterprise edition of the product. Clustering of two SQL servers is possible with the standard edition but to go beyond this would require the enterprise level edition. 
 
As with (C) the use of a BizTalk cluster also provides for the ability to balance load across the servers and gives more scope for performance tuning the implemented solution. It is also possible to add more BizTalk servers to an existing cluster, giving scope for scaling the solution out as future demand requires.
 
In this scenario however, we would be including some form of disaster recovery or service continuity. An example of this would be making use of multiple sites, with the BizTalk server cluster operating across sites to offer resilience in case of the loss of one or more sites. In this scenario there are options available for the SQL implementation depending on the network implementation; making use of either one cluster per site or a single SQL cluster across the network. A multi-site SQL implementation would require some form of data replication across the sites involved.
 
This is obviously an expensive and complex option, but does provide an extraordinary amount of protection in the case of failure.
Posted on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 4:20 PM BizTalk Infrastructure and Installation | Back to top


Comments on this post: BizTalk Server 2009 - Architecture Options

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 - Architecture Options
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Does this 4 architecture options also apply to BizTalk 2010?

Thank you
Left by Peter on Nov 01, 2010 5:06 PM

# re: BizTalk Server 2009 - Architecture Options
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I have not yet investigated all the differences when implementing BizTalk 2010, but the basics of the options outlined were equally valid across BizTalk 2004, 2006 and 2009.

I would have no reason to believe that they should not also be viable for BizTalk 2010 as this is an evolution of the 2009 version and the under lying principles remain the same.
Left by Stuart Brierley on Nov 02, 2010 11:53 AM

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