BizTalk Server 2006 R3

April 29, 2008

So you may have heard about OSLO. If not, you can read more about it here http://www.microsoft.com/soa/products/oslo.aspx

Since its announcement at the SOA conference October 2007, the rumor was that it wouldn’t be available for a couple few years.  As such, expected needs for a service pack, updates to play well with Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server 2008, etc suggested an interim release might be needed. As suspected, R3 was announced.

BizTalk Server 2006 R3 will provide us with a number of updates. Since this is not considered a major release, it has taken on the name of R3 to follow the current release version named R2. It is expected to provide operability for Windows 2008, SQL Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and.NET 3.5 further promoting next-generation web and service oriented applications, virtualization, scalability and office interoperability.

Additionally, the long awaited UDDI Version 3.0 support for web service registry functionality, new adapters for LOB application, enhancements to industry protocols and additional patterns and best practices can all be expected.

We should see a CTP release sometime during the summer of 2008 with an RTM sometime in H1 2009.

Additional information about this announcement can be found on Steven Martin’s blog located here: http://blogs.msdn.com/stevemar/archive/2008/04/23/biztalk-server-platform-updates.aspx

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BizTalk Server Best Practices Analyzer v1.1

April 5, 2008

Recently, a close knit group of folks inside of Microsoft have been working real hard collaborating on enhancements to the BizTalk Server Best Practice Analyzer V1.1 (BPA) tool. They have recently released Version 1.1 and has been posted up on Microsoft Downloads.

Overview
The BizTalk Server Best Practices Analyzer performs configuration-level verification by reading and reporting only. The Best Practices Analyzer gathers data from different information sources, such as Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) classes, SQL Server databases, and registry entries. The Best Practices Analyzer uses the data to evaluate the deployment configuration. The Best Practices Analyzer does not modify any system settings, and is not a self-tuning tool.

What’s new:
The followings rules are relevant to the current PSS Top Issues in the area of Orchestration, Configuration and SQL/DTC. Even though BizTalk BPA is only one of the solutions that can help to resolve the Top Issues, having these rules shows a step to the right direction. We have doubled the rules. V1.0 has 77 rules, v1.1 has 220 with 143 new rules added! 

Here are some rules that are relevant to PSS Top Issues:

  1. Added a warning rule for stopped orchestrations
  2. A check on MaxLogSize MSDTC
  3. Verify that TempDB and BizTalkMsgBoxDb data and log files are placed on separate drives
  4. Check that the Max Degree of Parallelism setting is set to 0 in all other BizTalk databases
  5. Verify that the MaxWorkerThreads in the SQL Server UMS configuration setting is set to XXX
  6. Check that the Maximum Server Memory is set to XXX GB
  7. System Time Diff between SQL and BizTalk Machines
  8. Orphaned SPIDs
  9. SQL Server Service Pack Installed for DB : xxxxxx
  10. Ignore Duplicate Key check
  11. Check Biztalk SQL Server Jobs running or not

Other Best Practice Analyzers

  1. BizTalk Server Best Practice Analyzer
  2. Best Practice Analyzer for ASP.NET
  3. SQL Server 2005 Best Practice Analyzer
  4. Exchange Server Best Practice Analyzers
  5. SharePoint Services and Office Best Practice
  6. patterns & practices Guidance Explorer

All must haves for your tool bag of tricks!


Loan Origination Architecture and the Financial Services Component Library

March 3, 2008

A couple weeks ago Mike Walker (an architect and technical evangelist at Microsoft) announced the 2nd release of the Loan Origination reference architecture (OR-LOS) and a Financial Services Component Library.  I’ve been watching some of his work over the last 1/2 year or so in terms of these reference architectures it looks like some really great reuse and guidance.

The Loan Origination reference architecture shows how to build solutions that unify people, process and technology through familiar Office 2007 user interfaces. It includes an architecture framework for lending with an Office Business Application based scenario and BizTalk “MISMO” Accelerator for the loan origination process in banking.

The Financial Services Component Library provides over 90+ OBA components spanning key areas in Banking, Insurance and Capital markets. These components and associated guidance is expected to be released over the next month or so at the Microsoft Financial Services Architecture Portal.

“OBAs are an emerging class of business applications that connect existing line-of-business (LOB) systems with the people that use them every day through the familiar user interface of Microsoft Office, bridging the gap between how business process systems work, and how people work. OR-LOS will help customers simplify document management, increase integrated workflow, improve efficiency and ultimately lower time-to-market offering for faster turn-around and reduced cost.”

Architecture Themes
Described below are some of the Microsoft architecture themes in which these architectures highlight.

Architecture Themes

Technology Components Included in the Financial Services OBA Component Library

Technology Components


Interactive BizTalk Capabilities Poster

March 3, 2008

Jon Flanders recently built a really cool Interactive BizTalk Capabilities poster and kicked it up a notch using Silverlight. Its pretty cool and could also prove to be a nice reference guide. It’s also discussed on the BizTalk Server Team Blog. All the really cool technical guide posters can be found here.

In a similar “light”, an Interactive Developer Map for Microsoft Office is also available.


BizTalk Blogs Aggregator

March 3, 2008

Back in December, Microsoft quietly released BizTalkBlogs.com. Its a blog aggregator bringing us recent posts from some of the most influential bloggers in the field focusing on BizTalk Server, .NET and Connected Systems. Its a must have reference, place to visit and site to keep your eye on.


Microsoft BizTalk Server Operations Guide!!

March 3, 2008

Microsoft recently released extremely valuable BizTalk operations readiness documentation chock full of excellent planning information, best practice, configuration, check lists, performance considerations and the like. There are over 600 pages of references and guidance and no BizTalk tool box should be without it. It can be found on Microsoft Downloads site or through the link above.

What’s in It? (from the document)

Guidance based on real-world experience. The idea for the guide originated with Microsoft field representatives, partner organizations, and customers who plan, deploy, and maintain BizTalk Server installations. This group of IT professionals has accumulated extensive hands-on experience with a diverse range of BizTalk solutions. As they gained experience they created checklists, best practices, and presentations to guide future BizTalk Server operations. We collected and organized this information to create the guide.

Key portions of this guide are new; however, a considerable portion consists of documentation taken from BizTalk Server 2006 R2 Help, white papers, Knowledge Base articles, and other sources. It has been carefully reviewed and vetted by experts from the community of BizTalk Server IT professionals and members of the product development team, whom we gratefully acknowledge at the end of this topic. We believe that the information presented here will help BizTalk Server users solve, and above all, avoid many of the common problems that can occur while deploying and maintaining a BizTalk Server installation.


What is the Microsoft VTS Program?

March 3, 2008

The Virtual TS program is a very unique program within Microsoft and has grown from the US to a global level. The VTS Program is sponsored and managed by a global team of Field Program Managers out of the BizTalk Corporate Product Group which is part of the Connected Systems Division.

The Field PM team is comprised of regionalized Program Managers dedicated to assisting customer, partners, and Microsoft in providing world class technical resources for BizTalk. In order to scale their role, the Field PMs enlists highly skilled individuals from the partner community as Virtual BizTalk Technology Specialists to become an extension of the team. The Virtual TS team generally has access to resources that are typically reserved for only the Microsoft internal teams. The group reports directly into Product Engineering, in contrast to Product Marketing and forms a cornerstone of our Advisors, TAP (Technology Adoption Programs), customer programs, release management, and QFE (Quick Fix Engineering).

The Virtual TS program was designed to create a deeper partnership with local Solution Integrators, the Product Team in Redmond and Microsoft customers in the field as well as local Microsoft sales resources. It is designed to enable a high performance team of partner-based resources to deliver pre- and post-sale activities and provide service, support, and integration directly with Corporate and District resources to empower customers and help them meet their integration needs.

“By Microsoft and AIS working together, our hope is that we grow AIS and at the same time, increase the adoption of BizTalk in the Mid-Atlantic District,” said Bashar “BASH” Badawi, Microsoft’s BizTalk Field Program Manager responsible for the VTS program partners in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast districts. “We believe the BizTalk Virtual TS program provides the right balance of training, Microsoft Corporate Access, Product Group affiliation and escalation paths that will allow AIS to develop a strategic advantage in this space.”