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On many occasions, BizTalk administrators/support guys in an organization end up doing monotonous tasks as a part of their daily work. Let us consider a simple scenario to understand this in a better way. Bill is the administrator/support person at Contoso and his regular task every day is to watch out for suspended service instances of a particular application. Whenever there is a suspended service instance, Bill's responsibility is to inform his manager about the failure and send the message information (Message Content & Message Context) via email. To achieve this, Bill has to constantly check the BizTalk Administration Console for suspended service instances. Whenever there is a suspended service instance, Bill has to manually save the message information and send it via email to his manager. This is a monotonous, tedious, and time consuming process for a support person.


To overcome this problem and make the life of BizTalk administrators/support persons more easy, we have developed the Operational Automation Capabilities in BizTalk360. This feature is tied closely with our Message Box Data Monitoring feature - which means, Bill can set up a Message Box Data Monitor on the Suspended Service instances (with a threshold value) and choose to get notified with the message payload (message context and message content) and context properties of the suspended service instances when there is a threshold violation.more easy, we have developed the Operational Automation Capabilities in BizTalk360. This feature is tied closely with our Message Box Data Monitoring feature - which means, Bill can set up a Message Box Data Monitor on the Suspended Service instances (with a threshold value) and choose to get notified with the message payload (message context and message content) and context properties of the suspended service instances when there is a threshold violation.


Prerequisites

The first step in setting up the "Operational Automation" capability in BizTalk360 is to configure the "Maximum number of attachments in email notification" and "Total attachment size allowed per email". BizTalk360 has a restriction to send a maximum of 10 email attachments and maximum size of the email to be 10 MB (on priority basis), which means say, if the mail size reaches 10 MB with 2 attachments, you will receive the email with just 2 attachments.

  1. Navigate to BizTalk360 Settings
  2. Click System Settings option from the left menu
  3. In the Maximum number of attachments in email notification, enter the value depending on the requirement
    The minimum value to be specified is 1 and the maximum value is 10. If you specify the value as 1, you will only receive the Context Property Summary email CSV file with the context property information (if configured in the Message Box Data Monitoring section). If you specify the value as 5, you will receive 4 attachments (Message Payload information) plus 1 Context Property Summary email CSV.
  4. In the Total attachment size allowed per email, enter the value depending on the requirement
    The minimum value to be specified is 1 and the maximum value is 10.
  5. Click Save to save the information



Setting up Operational Automation Capability in BizTalk360

You can set up operational automation capability under the "Message Box Data Monitoring" section in BizTalk360. The settings for operational automation can be found under the "SET THE NOTIFICATION CONDITIONS" section in the Message Box Data Monitoring screen. The below screenshot depicts the section (in Message Box Data Monitoring) where you can set up operational automation capability in BizTalk360.



  1. Log in to BizTalk360 (as a Super user)
  2. Click Monitoring tab from the navigation panel
  3. If you haven't created a data monitoring alarm, Create a Data Monitor Alarm. Follow the steps as shown in the article to create a data monitor alarm
  4. Once you have created an alarm, click the expand button against the Data Monitoring tab and select Data Monitoring option
  5. Select Message Box Data tab to create a message box data monitor
  6. Click Add New to create a new message box data monitor
  7. Enter the details in the fields as appropriate. Refer this article to understand about each field in the message box data monitor creation page
  8. In the Set the Notification Conditions section, select the Send message content and context in the notification email check box
  9. When the check box is selected, you will notice the Context Properties section below the Set the notification conditions section. BizTalk360 allows you to select the context properties that you want to see in the notification email. For instance, say, you want to view the BTS.ReceivePortID and BTS.ReceivePortName (context properties), click once on the text area. BizTalk360 will automatically list all the context properties in the drop down and you can select the required property from the list
  10. Click Save & Close to save and close the data monitor


Viewing the Message Payload and Context Properties in the Email Notifications

Once the data monitor is configured, when it executes during the next run cycle, if there are any suspended service instances, the message context and content information will automatically be attached to the email notification that is received from the BizTalk360 system. The message context and content properties will automatically be zipped as a folder and attached along with the notification email. In addition, if you had chosen to receive the context properties associated with the message, you will see a summary CSV file with the context properties information of all the service instances that are suspended at that point of time. This saves lot of time and is a value-add for the support persons/administrators as they no longer have to manually zip and send the message payload information as well as they can get to see the context properties associated with the message.


The below screenshot depicts the email notification received from BizTalk360 System with the payload information for 9 messages and 1 Context Properties Summary CSV file.


   


For instance, if you only selected the "Send message content and context in the notification email" check box while creating the message box data monitor and did not select any context properties, you will not receive the context properties summary CSV file as an email attachment. The number of attachments will depend on the value specified in System Settings. For instance, if the value for the maximum number of attachments in email notification is set to 10, you will receive 10 attachments (if they are within the size specified under Total attachment size allowed per email) in the email notification. The below screenshot depicts the scenario in detail.



Enhancements from v8.5 - Viewing data monitoring in the External Notification channel

Earlier to v8.5, Data monitoring alert can only be sent through static notification end points like SMS, Email, Windows Event log and HP Operation Manager. From this release, BizTalk360 has the capability to send alerts to the custom notification channels. Using this functionality, the users can get the Data monitoring alert in notification channel like Slack, ServiceNow, and WebHook. To use this functionality, the user needs to configure the notification channel in the setting side and enable the same in Data monitoring alarm.

The Message payload and context properties will not be attached to the custom notification channel.


Sample screenshot for the notifications received in ServiceNow and Slack channels.