BizTalk Architecture Questions & Answers

What is Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)?

EAI solutions provide an integrated approach to connecting the different components of IT infrastructure- people, applications, platforms and databases to enable secure, intra and inter enterprise collaboration.

The advantages of EAI:

  • Real-time information access
  • Streamlining processes
  • Accessing information more efficiently
  • Transferring data and information across multiple platforms
  • Easy development and maintenance.

Reasons for Emergence of EAI:

  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • E- Business
  • Business Process Automation
  • Industry regulation & de-regulation
  • Growth in implementation of ERP packages
  • Supply Chain Management & Customer
  • Relationship Management
  • Zero Latency Enterprise
  • Reduction of business process life cycle
  • Intranet/ internet explosion

What is BizTalk Server?

Microsoft BizTalk Server is an application server that enables companies to integrate and manage automated business processes by exchanging business documents, within or across organizational boundaries. It is basically an Integration server with in-built adapters for communication. It helps in Integrating Enterprise Applications at one common point. Click here for more details

Why BizTalk?

BizTalk provides the base services to do powerful application integration across disparate systems and even organizations. Microsoft BizTalk Server is an application server that enables companies to integrate and manage automated business processes by exchanging business documents such as purchase orders and invoices between disparate applications, within or across organizational boundaries.

It’s providing following facilities in integration which are very useful.

  • It is basically an Integration server with in-build adapters for communication. It helps in Integrating Enterprise Applications at one common point.
  • Solutions can be developed really fast with BizTalk Server. Effort spent will be less.
  • Support, Maintenance and updates are easy to manage and maintained.
  • Its provide guaranty that message will never loss in BizTalk if any technical issue occurs.
  • It has retried mechanism as well as alternative transport mechanism for message processing.
  • BizTalk is designed to operate in Multi Server Environment. We can run the application on various servers to manage load and highly Availability.
  • Advantage for customers on cost saving in terms of development time.
  • BizTalk has BAM Portal (Business Activity Monitoring Portal) to tracking the message information inside the BizTalk for the Business guys.
  • BizTalk has a number of Tools like BRE, SSO which be effectively used.
  • It can be used to communicate with wide range of Legacy Applications. There is always a scope to develop custom

Explain about BizTalk architecture?

BizTalk is the Integration tool developed by Microsoft as a middleware product that helps to connect various systems together to transfer data.

Click here for BizTalk Architecture details

What are BizTalk Components and Capabilities?

BizTalk has following components:

  1. Receive Port: BizTalk Receives messages from source systems via Receive Ports.
  2. Adapters: Information interchange with external systems. There are several types of in-build adapters which are using to send/receive message to applications from BizTalk. E.g. File, web service, FTP, SQL etc.
  3. Pipelines: Pipelines is basically used for converting message into XML format and promote message content/context properties on the message. So that subscriber (Send port or orchestration) can receive the message for further activity.
  4. Schemas: Schemas is used to set the format of the message in XSD format.
  5. Maps: map is used to transform the message format from source to destination. Transformation allow the application to map one message specification to another and transform data as it is processed.
  6. Message Box: The BizTalk server uses a publish-subscribe messaging engine architecture and the heart of this architecture is the BizTalk MessageBox database.
  7. Send Port: send port is the location to which Microsoft BizTalk Server sends messages or from which BizTalk Server receives messages.
  8. Send Port Group: A send port group is a named collection of send ports that BizTalk Server can use to send the same message to multiple destinations in one configuration
  9. BizTalk Orchestration: Orchestrations are executable business processes that can subscribe to (receive) and publish (send) messages through the MessageBox database
  10. Role Links:  role links is an abstraction layer between orchestrations and trading partners. Role links allow you to dynamically determine the trading partner for interaction based on message content, database values, basically on anything you can think of. A role is a collection of port types that either uses a service or implements a service. A role defines how parties interact with orchestrations.
  11. Party: Party connect with send port with help of role link. This will define at run time where message should process based on Party configuration

Click here for more details about BizTalk Components.

Explain the Difference Between Routing and Content Routing?

Message routing : The Message Router pattern determines the recipient of the message based on a set of conditions. It is a method of passing through BizTalk without being processed.

Content routing : The Content-Based Router pattern determines the recipient of a message based on message content. It is a method of passing of the message which is based on certain field value of the schema.

How to achieve high availability and load balancing while configuring BizTalk Server?

BizTalk can be configured in that it uses a Fail-over or Load Balanced cluster. By doing so, BizTalk uses several physical or virtual machines to spread the workload. In case one of the machines goes down, BizTalk is still able to process workload on the other machine(s).

Click here for BizTalk configuration & installation details.

Which are the four most important BizTalk databases?

  • BizTalkMgmtDb (contains the configuration of a BizTalk Group)
  • BizTalkMsgBox (contains the messages and work in progress)
  • BizTalkDTADb (contains information about the completed processes)
  • SSODb (contains credential information)

What is BizTalk MessageBox Database?

The heart of the publish/subscribe engine in BizTalk Server is the MessageBox database. The MessageBox is made up of two components: one or more Microsoft SQL Server databases and the Message Agent. The SQL Server database provides the persistence store for many things including messages, message properties, subscriptions, orchestration states, tracking data, and host queues for routing.

What is Single Sign-On (SSO)?

Enterprise Single Sign-On (SSO) provides services to store and transmit encrypted user credentials across local and network boundaries, including domain boundaries. SSO stores the credentials in the SSO database. Because SSO provides a generic single sign-on solution, middleware applications and custom adapters can leverage SSO to securely store and transmit user credentials across the environment. End users do not have to remember different credentials for different applications.

Enterprise Single Sign-On stores an encrypted mapping between a user’s Windows user ID and his credentials for one or more affiliate applications in an SSO database. When this user needs to access an affiliate application, the credentials for that application can be looked up in the SSO database by a Single Sign-On (SSO) Server. The diagram below shows how this works.

For more details of Enterprise Single Sign-On click here.

How do you measure health and performance for BizTalk?

BizTalkHealthMonitoring tool helps to monitor the health of BizTalk environment. BHM (BizTalk Health Monitoring) is based on the same engine as MBV (Message Box Viewer). This snap-in can be added to the existing BizTalk Administration Console or can be run individually in its own MMC window.

Following are major features of BHM:

  • Monitor Multiple BizTalk Environments
  • Generate and View MBV reports
  • Dashboard view for overall health of BizTalk Environments
  • Schedule Report Collection
  • Send Email Notifications
  • Performance Monitor integration with pre-loaded scenario-based Performance counters
  • Report Management

BizTalk health monitoring tool is available from BizTalk 2013 R2 and above version. This tool exists in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft BizTalk Server 2013 R2\SDK\Utilities\Support Tools location, from where you can install the BizTalk Server.

Which default adapters can only run with a single Host Instance? 

Below are adapters which only work on single server host instance.

  • POP3
  • MSMQ

All the adapters which lack a locking system, like FTP, POP3, and MSMQ. For a high available BizTalk Group, these adapters need to be clustered. For more information’s see MSDN Considerations for Running Adapter Handlers within a Clustered Host.

WCF-SQL (Receive Adapter) : In multi-server BizTalk environment, BizTalk WCF-Custom (SQL Binding) Receive Locations poll SQL Server more than one times instead of single polling if multiple host is configured for WCF-SQL adapter for receiving.

For more details click here.

Below links are available for other segment of Interview questions and Answers:

BizTalk Server Monitoring

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