Complete package of tools to support hybrid integration scenarios

Introduction

BizTalk360 as a company has a laser focus on solving the monitoring challenges in integration space especially in BizTalk, Azure and hybrid integration scenarios. The result is three products BizTalk360, Serverless360 and Atomic Scope. People in integration space easily relate to product BizTalk360 as there is already a big customer base for this product and there are product specialists in the integration community. Serverless360 and Atomic Scope are young products with a handful of customers already. Every now and then we receive queries such as when to use Atomic Scope? What is the difference between Atomic Scope and BizTalk360? Do we need to invest in Atomic Scope with an already existing subscription to Serverless360?  In this blog, I will try to clarify these questions and explain how three products come together to provide all-around monitoring for hybrid integration solutions.

The support structure of integration platforms

Once the integration solutions are developed and deployed to production, support is provided to the platform at various levels. Like any IT application support, there will be at least three levels in a typical support structure.

Support Level

Responsibility

Specific to integration solutions

Level 1

These are the teams who receive calls from the customers or businesses who are making use of IT applications. Typically, L1 support professionals have in-depth knowledge of the business domain and are experts at a functional level. Hence most of the time these teams are also called as functional support teams. They typically make use of the portals at their disposal to answer the queries and escalate them to the next level if they cannot solve them.

A typical request could be to check why someone did not receive a response to Purchase order number “PO001”.

To address such queries, level 1 support teams must have a monitoring product which brings out business context into all the business processes and transactions in an integration solution.

In azure solutions involving logic apps, functions, APIM etc, it is hard to get functional details and flow without a proper functional monitoring tool.

In BizTalk implementations, it is quite challenging to address level 1 support queries unless teams would have implemented a portal either using BAM or a custom solution to look into the business activities.

Level 2

Level 2 teams are the people who support the integration solutions at the system level.

They mainly deal with all the systems and services on which an application or integration solution is being implemented. 

These people are specialized in products being used in the integration solution, for example, BizTalk admins and Azure iPaaS admins.

Level 2 team escalates any issues which they cannot fix.

The primary role of the level2 support team involves ensuring the health of services involved in the integration platforms.

Especially in serverless applications, it is necessary to manage and monitor the services involved.  One example is to ensure an Azure service bus queue length has not exceeded the threshold limits.

Typically, BizTalk administrators will be in Level 2, supporting integration solutions based on BizTalk server.  One example could be to ensure a specific receive location is up and running all the time.

 

Level 3

This is a team of people who were involved in the development of the application and understand it at the code level. Once level 2 support cannot solve the issues, they will be escalated to level 3.

Hence the developers, technical architects are the people who will be part of this team.

These issues will be specific to the implementation and code level. Break fixes released from these teams to address the issues.

However, the team needs a proper monitoring tool to troubleshoot the issue and find the root cause.

 

Where do our products add value?

In the previous section, we understood various levels of supporting an integration platform and we surely need proper tools at all these levels. The picture below shows our three products which can help support professionals at various levels.

When to use BizTalk360?

BizTalk360 is mainly for 2nd or 3rd level of BizTalk support teams. This team will be interested in troubleshooting any environment-related issues such as

  • Enabling BizTalk to send ports
  • Ensuring that the host instances are running correctly.
  • Monitoring suspended messages and resuming/terminating them.

So BizTalk360 is a toy for BizTalk administrators. To know the complete set of features in BizTalk360 refer to documentation https://docs.biztalk360.com/docs/what-is-biztalk360.

If you have a BizTalk environment in an integration solution, BizTalk360 is a must have a product

Keeping hybrid integrations in mind, BizTalk360 also provides operational and monitoring capabilities on Azure services such as logic apps, service bus queues etc. However, it is not comprehensive when it comes to serverless applications like Azure service bus, Azure functions etc. This is where Serverless360 comes into the picture

When to use Serverless360

Serverless360 is mainly for 2nd and 3rd level Azure services involved in serverless applications. This team will be interested in the health of queues, Topics, relays, logic apps, azure functions etc. For example

  • Serverless360 brings the ability to create/delete/update queues, topics, relays etc
  • It can monitor the size of a queue to ensure it is healthy.
  • You post the messages to a queue.

To know more about all features in serverless360 visit documentation https://docs.serverless360.com/.

If you have serverless services such as logic apps, functions, Azure service bus queues, topics and relays , Serverless360 is a must have product.

When to use Atomic Scope

There is no business context attached to the messages you are trying to monitor In both BizTalk360 and Serverless360 . For example, if you want to find out what happened to a PO001 from a customer ABC, you will not be able to find this.  This is where Atomic Scope chips in. It gives an end to end view of the business transaction in a hybrid integration environment.

Atomic Scope is mainly for level 1 or level 2 support teams in a hybrid integration scenario. The team does not worry about the platform behind. If there are exceptions in any stage, they will be able to monitor them.  When your customer service team receives a call asking about a PO which is not being received at the downstream system, then Atomic Scope gives them the ability to search and find the stage at which the transaction has failed.

Atomic Scope brings a full functional context to the business processes and transactions catered from the integration solutions.

One such example business process in a supply chain customer is as below.

The Atomic Scope is like a combination of BAM and ESB exception portal for iPaaS solutions. Hence it adds a lot of business context to the failed instances so that one can identify the whereabouts of the message. However, this product requires some level of instrumentation in solutions. For example, you will have to use custom pipeline components, orchestration helpers, APIs, Logic app connectors for the Atomic Scope to log the events at every stage.

Here is an article from our CEO Saravana Kumar introducing Atomic Scope  What is Atomic Scope. To know more about Atomic Scope please refer to documentation https://docs.atomicscope.com/

Summary

Support and monitoring aspects of integration solutions are very important for operational efficiency. Due to implementation costs and delivery deadlines, they are neglected time and again. The product Trios Atomic Scope, BizTalk360, and Serverless360 together form a complete suite to support Hybrid integration solutions not only reducing the overall cost of implementation but also increasing the operational efficiency better than ever before.

Author: Srinivasa Mahendrakar

Srinivasa Mahendrakar is a cloud and integration consultant with more than 13 years of experience in the integration space. He is a Director of product at BizTalk360.