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This post disappeared from a previous blog of mine so I'm reposting it.

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Are you read to take your BizTalk Server 2004 application to production?

 

Integration applications are usually very complex; they have a lot of moving pieces, they use many different technologies and they are often built to automate processes that are not understand nearly as well as the business units involved think they are understood.  In addition to the technical problems related to integration applications, integration problems have a corresponding set of issues centered around communication difficulties.  Often these communication difficulties arise because the different teams involved in the project do not understand ant technologies other than their own, because people of various technical levels are involved in project and because project teams do not reside at the same physical location.

 

Because of these complexities it is easy to overlook items that should be handled prior to your BizTalk Server 2004 application going live.  The article contains suggestions for items you should resolve prior to going live.

 

Deployment

  • Is your deployment automated?  Fully automated?
  • Have you defined your rollback procedures?

 

Application Architecture Review

  • Have you covered all of your error handling scenarios from you requirements?
  • Will HAT provide all of the necessary debugging, process analysis and replay requirements for your application?  If not you may need to
  • Database recovery, backups, failover, etc.
  • Logging - where, how, when?
  • How are you going to monitor you application and environment?  What happens after hours?  Have you considered Microsoft Operations Manager?
  • How are you going to implement notification?  Who gets notified?  When?  Will you filter so that you don't send out notifications for each and every BizTalk related event log entry?
  • Will you have enough information to debug your problems (they will occur!)?
  • Can you really guarantee delivery?  Did you design your orchestrations correctly?
  • Have you reviewed the Performance and High-availability whitepapers?

 

Hardware Architecture Review

  • Are your environments the same from Development to Production?
  • If necessary, have you really eliminated single-points of failure? What about the resources BizTalk will depend on such as MQSeries server, databases, etc.  You are as weak as you weakest point.
  • Can you really meet you availability requirements?
  • If necessary, do you have an environment that you can perform load and performance testing in?  Do you have access to it?  You will need access to it so that you can change tuning settings.

 

Operations Staff

  • Do you know how to work with HAT?
  • Will you have access to HAT in you production environment?  If not, how will you work with your operations staff during issues?
  • Have you trained your operations staff on HAT?
  • Does your operations staff know how to use your deployment tool?
  • Does your operations staff know how to use BizTalk Administration?
  • Have you planned your situation handling procedures and documented them?
  • Does operations understand all of your application scenarios?
  • Does operations understand the service-level agreement for you application?  For your platform?

 

Testing

  • Have you tested failover scenarios?
  • Can you really run your business scenarios in your pre-production environment?  If not, be prepared for issues in production soon after you deploy there.
  • Are your environments the same from Development to Production?
  • For applications that will be under heavy load, when you PoC'ed did you test the PoC under a full load?  You might be surprised at what happens if you only tested with a percentage of your full load and extrapolated.
  • For applications that will be under heavy load, have you tested all of the adapters separately?  They behave very differently under load and have different tuning settings.
  • Have you tested all of you unhappy paths?
  • Does everyone know what end-to-end testing means?  Are you sure?
  • Do you have testing schedule defined?  This can be very difficult to plan given that integration applications often have many systems and departments involved.

 

Business

  • Have you reminded the business units about the new process changes?
  • Have you defined the communication paths between the involved business unit/parties when problems occur?  This is also something that your operations staff will have to know about.
  • Does the business know how/when they will be notified of issues; this includes automated notifications and SLA requirements for how the operations staff will notify customers about issue resolution?

 

This list of items is not exhaustive and there are likely many other things that you should consider for your particular situation prior to taking your BizTalk Server 2004 application to production; however, I have provided a sample of items that you may have not thought of and that will hopefully provide some motivation to discover other items for you particular situation.

 

If you have other suggestions for this list, let me know.

 

Posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 7:24 AM BizTalk | Back to top

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