BizTalk is an effective solution for today’s integrated businesses. The Microsoft platform is ideal for companies needing to connect internal and external applications and to manage supply chains, process payments, perform business-to-business communications and have access to real-time reporting.
Managing and monitoring the complex components of the BizTalk platform is challenging for internal IT departments. It takes a full-time focus to ensure BizTalk continues operating as expected and without experiencing downtime.
So, what are some tips for successfully managing BizTalk with internal staff?
1) Leverage Microsoft resources: Microsoft is dedicated to providing support for BizTalk. In addition to field support technicians and live phone support, Microsoft has an extensive compilation of helpful tips, tricks and in-depth instructions in its MSDN Library.
2) Connect online: Microsoft also offers a wealth of information through its BizTalk Server Developer Center. There are installation guides and tutorials as well as a BizTalk Server community for IT to connect with others using the platform.
3) Sign up for BizTalk classes: There are a number of organizations that offer formal training in BizTalk. Some offer training online, while others have classrooms in cities throughout the United States. If your organization is large enough — usually at least six people in need of BizTalk training — you may even be able to justify the expense of bringing in certified trainers to teach your team onsite.
4) Form training partnerships: Through networking, you may find opportunities to partner with another organization — a customer or vendor, for example — to bring in a trainer to teach BizTalk.
5) Hire gurus to mentor your team: Although they come at a premium these days (and with good reason) one option is to hire a BizTalk guru that already knows the platform inside and out. Make sure this person understands that a portion of his role is to also teach others on your internal team about BizTalk.
6) Hire middleware experts: While experience costs more, you have a better chance of lessening the time to full competency if you start with developers and operations people who have previously worked with integrating applications and middleware solutions.
Whatever solution you settle on for training your team on the BizTalk environment, keep in mind that it takes time — sometimes years — to get an IT team up to speed with BizTalk.
A faster and more effective solution is to use intelligent monitoring software to automate the day-to-day oversight of the BizTalk environment.
In addition to streamlining the management of your BizTalk environment, intelligent monitoring also makes your team more proactive. With automated monitoring, IT is always in the right place at the right time; the software pinpoints problem areas within the BizTalk environment and gives your team the information it needs to bring about swift resolution.
When you have an intelligent monitoring solution keeping tabs on the BizTalk environment, your team is also free to develop protocols to speed up the troubleshooting process. Problems that used to take days to resolve and sometimes required external resources are boiled down to a matter of hours using your internal team.
The software deploys in minutes and begins learning normal behaviors in your BizTalk environment right away. It uses these normal behaviors to establish thresholds that trigger only relevant alerts. And because it’s self-learning, it’s continually evolving to changes introduced into your BizTalk environment, and then generates alerts only for those activities that are genuinely anomalous.
Automation of the monitoring process means IT is free to focus on productive development, building code and delivering on business objectives — projects more suited to their skillsets.