When you work in an integration environment it is common that you will find yourself in a situation where you integrate with some unusual applications or have some unusual dependencies. That is the nature of integration. When you work with BizTalk one of the common problems is that BizTalk often is the place where problems with applications you integrate with are highlighted and these external applications may have poor monitoring solutions.
Fortunately if you are a working with a customer who uses BizTalk 360 then it contains a feature called the "Web Endpoint Manager". Typically the web endpoint manager is used to monitor web services that you integrate with and will ping them at appropriate times to make sure they return the expected HTTP status code.
When you have an usual situation where you want to monitor something which is key to the success to your solution but you find yourself having to consider a significant custom solution to monitor the external dependency then the Web Endpoint Manager could be your friend. The endpoint manager monitors a url and checks for a certain status code. This means that you can create your own aspx web page and then make BizTalk 360 monitor this web page. Behind the web page you could write any code you wished. An example of this is architecture is shown in the below diagram.
In the custom web page you would implement some custom code to do whatever it is that you want to monitor. In the below code snippet you can see how the Page_Load default method is doing some kind of check then depending on the result of the check it returns a certain HTTP code.
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
var result = CheckSomething();
if (result == "Success")
Response.StatusCode = 202;
else if (result == "DatabaseError")
Response.StatusCode = 510;
else if (result == "SystemError")
Response.StatusCode = 512;
Response.StatusCode = 513;
In BizTalk 360 you would go into the Monitor and Notify tab and then to BizTalk Environment which gives you access to the Web Endpoint Manager. You need an alarm setup which configures how the endpoint will be checked. I'm not going to go through the details of creating the alarm as this is already documented in the BizTalk 360 documentation. One point to note is that in the example I am using I setup a threshold alarm which means that the url is checked about every minute and if there is an error that persists for a period of time then the alarm will raise the alert notification. In my example I configured the alarm to fire if the error persisted for 3 minutes.
The below picture shows accessing the endpoint manager.
In the web endpoint manager you would then configure your endpoint to monitor and the HTTP response code which indicates all is working fine. The below picture shows this.
I now have my endpoint monitoring setup and BizTalk 360 should be checking my custom endpoint to see that it is available. If I wanted to manually sanity check that the endpoints I have registered are working fine then clicking the Refresh button will show if they are all good or not.
If my custom ASP.net page which is checking my dependency gets a problem you will see in the endpoint manager that the status code does not match the expected return code and your endpoints will display in red and you can see the problem. The below picture shows this. If I use specific HTTP response codes for the errors the custom ASP.net page might encounter I can easily interpret these to know what the problem is.
Using the alarms and notifications with BizTalk 360 it means when your endpoint goes into an error state you can easily configure email or SMS notifications from BizTalk 360 to tell you that your endpoint is having problems and you can use BizTalk 360 to help correlate what the problem is to allow you to investigate further. Below you can see the email which tells me my endpoint is not working.
When everything returns to normal you will see the status is now fixed and you will see a situation like below where you can see the WebEndpoints are now green and the return code matches what is expected.
As you can see it is really easy to plug your own custom ASP.net page into the BizTalk 360 web endpoint monitoring feature. This extension then gives you the power to really extend the monitoring to almost anything you want as long as you can write some .net code to check that the dependency is available and working. It would be interesting to hear of any ideas people have around things they would monitor with this extension.
More details on the end point monitor can be found on the following link: