Recently I was asked by a organisation about how to monitor their BizTalk integration with Lagan CRM to ensure their integration solution was working effectively. The organisation was happy with their existing infrastructure monitoring but wanted to improve the way their integration processes were monitored to ensure they were working effectively. Here were some of my thoughts generically around monitoring integration with Lagan CRM from a BizTalk perspective.
Monitoring BizTalk Infrastructure
There is lots of information around how to monitor BizTalk and have a healthy BizTalk environment. The organization would be using the BizTalk and SQL Server managements pack for SCOM to monitor server level health and the lower level infrastructure under pinning BizTalk such as SQL Server health.
In addition to this I would recommend the organization implemented BizTalk 360 to also monitor the BizTalk infrastructure. BizTalk 360 provides a number of other monitoring capabilities which I feel add value on top of what the SCOM pack gives you. An example of this would be the ability to integrate scheduled BizTalk Messagebox Viewer reviews and the other monitor alarms which are on the following link:
The combination of BizTalk 360 and SCOM would have the organization in an excellent position to ensure that they would be able to monitor their BizTalk infrastructure.
If you work with a smaller organization and you may not have an enterprise monitoring application then BizTalk 360 can help you here. It may not have some of the general server level monitoring that SCOM has but it does have monitoring that is specifically focused around BizTalk environments and you will find BizTalk 360 on its own can cover a lot of your needs.
Examples of the things you may be monitoring in this area include:
These are very general monitoring requirements which almost every customer will have.
Monitoring BizTalk Applications
The organization has a number of different BizTalk applications which can integrate BizTalk with Lagan. These have a number of different areas where monitoring can be important. Again BizTalk 360 is an excellent bet to help you. BizTalk 360 allows you to set alarms around some of the common application requirements. These application specific requirements for part of what will make your solution deliver a quality service (or not). Some examples of where BizTalk 360 was being considered with this organization include:
- Monitoring No. instances of an orchestration
The organization has a batch process loading records into Lagan. This process often experiences various error conditions and some of them cannot be automatically retried. Normally the ops team would clean these up a few times per week and adhere to the SLA but by using BizTalk 360's orchestration monitoring capabilities they would be able to identify a threshold so that if there was over 20 instances of these errors then they could raise an alert and make sure someone acted upon these errors quickly. The monitor would allow the ops team to ensure they number of outstanding orchestrations needing some kind of manual intervention did not get out of hand.
- Port and Orchestration State monitoring
The operations team were new to supporting BizTalk and one of the biggest risks was someone accidently doing an operations task incorrectly and breaking something. The BizTalk 360 monitoring would allow us to configure the expected state for ports and orchestrations and an alert would be raised if they were accidently turned off.
One of the organisations key concerns was around their weekend batch processing and one of the challenging areas to monitor is what happens if something doesn't happen. The scenario here was that if the weekend batch did not run and a set of batches was not received by BizTalk then lagan would not be loaded with case management cases for the call centre to work on. The next result of this would be a very painful Monday.
By implementing the BizTalk 360 monitoring an alert could be setup so that if the batches had not been received by Sunday lunchtime then an alert would be raised so someone could look to resolve the issue before it would affect the business.
One of the key areas where BizTalk 360 would help in the application monitoring space would be that to setup new alerts in the organisations SCOM instance involves other parts of the IT organization and there are various change control processes which often need to be followed. In the BizTalk 360 application this is used entirely by the BizTalk Administrator and BizTalk support operator and they can easily add their own alerts and modify them as required very quickly.
Monitoring the Dependencies
As with many BizTalk solutions your success is only as good as the applications you depend upon. By improving the confidence that Lagan is working effectively the confidence of the overall integration solution would improve.
We are not necessarily concerned about monitoring the whole of Lagan but we are concerned about ensuring the services required for the integration solution are working well.
The key areas are discussed in more detail below.
Lagan FL web service
The Lagan FL web service is the webservice used most by the batch solution. We would execute a number of methods on this webservice to process each record. Anyone familiar with Lagan integration should be used to the FL web service.
In our monitoring initiative we will use the BizTalk 360 web service monitoring capabilities which will ping the Lagan web service and ensure that a successful HTTP response is received. This will give us confidence that the tomcat web server running the web service is working correctly and ready to accept messages.
BizTalk Web Services
As part of a different BizTalk application there are some integration processes where Lagan calls to a BizTalk exposed web service which then routes the message through the message box to other applications in a pub/sub style. Again with BizTalk 360 we can use the web service monitoring to ensure that the service is available and ready for Lagan to use it.
Any application you integrate with is likely to be running on a supported operating platform for your organization. You should check that SCOM (or equivalent) is being used to monitor the base infrastructure for this dependent application so you can have confidence in its
This article was really just a brain dump of some of my thoughts around monitoring for this specific situation. There are at least three levels you should be thinking about when collecting monitoring requirements and I hope above I have given you some thoughts on how BizTalk 360 and SCOM can be used to complement each other in implementing an effective monitoring solution in this example about a customer who has integrated BizTalk and Lagan CRM.