Clustered Biztalk server Host Instance monitoring

How to efficiently manage and monitor clustered BizTalk Server Host Instances?

Published on : Jun 28, 2023

Category : BizTalk Server

Senthil Kumar


Key Takeaways of the Blog

  • How enterprises choose their BizTalk Server Host Instances architecture?
  • Features of Host Instances in BizTalk360 that help the BizTalk Administrator.
  • When to choose “Exactly one” and “At least one” active in the Host Instances monitoring!
  • Scenarios where Automated Tasks help to take automatic action on Cluster Host Instances.
  • How to visualize Throttling conditions in an enriched user interface?

BizTalk Host Instances are the physical instances of logical BizTalk Hosts that handle processing of incoming and outgoing messages. Basically, Host Instances are Windows NT Services.

BizTalk Server in a cluster or multi-server setup, can balance the processing of messages by creating multiple hosts and host instances.

Type of Hosts

  • It is a best practice to create at least, the following Hosts:
  • Receive Host: Receive location handlers to receive messages from various sources.
  • Process Host: To orchestrate messages based on business rules.
  • Send Host: After the message processing, transmit the messages securely to the subscribers.
 Clustered Biztalk server Host Instance monitoring
  • BizTalk Server host instances have an operational capability. The latest version of BizTalk Server 2020 includes the Receive Location fault tolerance to avoid business process interruption. BizTalk Server administrators must follow the best practices in managing the BizTalk host..

Clustered Host Instances

Larger enterprises often choose BizTalk Server high availability for their BizTalk Hosts for smooth processing of their business transactions. The Windows failover cluster setup guarantees that BizTalk messages are processed when one of the BizTalk Servers went down.

  • Clustered Host Instances make sure the business transactions are taken care of by the host instance in the passive cluster node when active host instances became unavailable.
  • BizTalk Administrators can easily manage states of host instances in cluster resources for smooth message processing in the BizTalk group

BizTalk Server Host Instances in BizTalk360

BizTalk Administrators or business process admins must maintain the states of Host Instances. The Administrators ensure that host instances are available for the smooth processing of business transactions.

The Host Instances features in BizTalk360 to manage, monitor, and take corrective actions are:

  • Manage the states of Host Instances (Administration).
  • Host Instances Monitoring, including corrective actions.
  • Perform scheduled actions on Host Instances (Automated Tasks).
  • Monitor the Host Throttled error conditions in high availability (Monitoring).
  • Visualize the Host Throttled situations (Analytics).

Manage the Host Instances

Administrators can operate on the Host Instances to set the configuration state as Enabled or Disabled and the running state as Started or Stopped.

To avoid the host instances unavailability (during maintenance or Disaster), one of the cluster nodes is set as active and another node as passive. The host instances in the active node will be processing the messages!

Only users with permission to manage host instances can perform these activities. For security reasons, Admin users can keep track of who has changed the state of Host Instances in Governance & Audit

Host Instances Monitoring

Maintain the state of Host Instances to the expected state, which, in most cases, is Started. During maintenance or deployment,

  • Administrators can set the expected state as stopped to prevent the suspension of messages while deployment.
  • During system outages, by using Automated Tasks – Custom Workflow can help to avoid false positive alerts to the business users.

Automated Tasks – Custom Workflow

With The Automated Tasks custom workflow administrators can automated the BizTalk Application deployment process. In the custom workflow configuration, follow the below steps

  • Step 1: Bring down the artifacts to down state before the deployment.
  • Step 2: Disable the Monitoring Alarms related to Applications affected to avoid the false positives
  • Step 3: Automated Application deployment with PowerShell execution
  • Step 4: After the deployment, bring back the BizTalk Artifacts
  • Step 5: Enable the alarms which are disabled in Step 2

With BizTalk360, there are two ways to monitor the high availability of host instances. Those are:

  • Active Passive Cluster Host Instances (Exactly One)
  • Active-Active Host Instances (At least One)

Let’s have a look at both options.

Active Passive Cluster Host Instances (Exactly One active)

In a Windows fail-over cluster setup, the expected state of Host Instances is started in the active server. In this case, the passive node is unavailable to determine the state.

The latest version of BizTalk360 (v10.6) introduced the Exactly one state of host instances to monitor the host instances that are active in one of the cluster host nodes.

Active-Active Host Instances (At least One active)

Depending on the business requirements, BizTalk Host Instances might process large volumes of messages. Some enterprises adopt the Active-Active Host setup to handle this scenario. This will help split the BizTalk Host’s workload between the configured nodes of Host Instances. In this case, both the host instances are always available at the minimum. Do you want to understand how? See below:

  • Monitoring the Active-Active host instances provides an option to monitor the host instances with “At least one active” host instance.
  • The monitoring service can check the condition of the host instances in the configured nodes of the BizTalk Server environment. It will alert the users when the Host Instances are not in their expected state.
 Clustered Biztalk server Host Instance monitoring

Auto Healing!

When the host instances are in the stopped state, the Auto Healing feature will help the Host Instances states be brought back to the expected state.

  • In Active-Passive cluster host instances, the monitoring service can auto-correct the state of host instances in the Active node.
  • Active-Active host instances setup is used to share the message processing load across the hosts in the multiple nodes. The monitoring service will auto correct the host instances in the BizTalk Servers when the host instances are not in their expected state.

Host Instances Automatic Actions

The Automated Tasks can be utilized to bring down artefacts during system maintenance or Application deployments. Application deployment demands a set of tasks that needs to be carried out.

The users can configure automated actions on clustered Host Instances and non-clustered Host Instances. See below for the possibilities.

Clustered BizTalk Hosts

With clustered host instances, automatic tasks perform the configured action for the Host Instances, via a Task schedule, against the Active cluster node. This ensures exactly one host instance is active in the cluster nodes.

BizTalk Server High Availability (At least one active)

    In High Availability, Automated Task performs an action on host instances in the BizTalk Servers in any of the servers. In case the first node fails, automatic action is taken on the second server.

BizTalk Server High Availability

Monitor the Host Throttled conditions

When the BizTalk Hosts instances hit specific threshold limits, throttling will happen, which causes processing to take place at a slower pace. When the failure in the active Host Instance(s) causes the throttling mechanism the BizTalk360 monitoring service will alert the administrator to switch the passive node, which can take over the processing of the messages.

In the BizTalk environment, when host throttling happens, it causes a delay in message processing, potentially leading to a large volume of unprocessed messages in the Host Instances.

The administrators can create threshold rules to monitor the throttling conditions with the metrics in Publish message and Delivery message throttling.

Monitoring Throttled conditions

Visualize the Host Throttled situations!

  • The main benefit of the Throttling Analyser is that it provides an easy understanding of the BizTalk throttling mechanism.
  • The Throttling Analyser provides a simple and informative dashboard view.
  • This helps BizTalk administrators or operational users to understand the throttling conditions, even though they do not have the deep technical expertise.
  • It provides an interactive user interface to understand the environment’s processing capacity. It will help to do capacity planning on a real-time basis.
  • The Throttling Data in the graphical view provides insights into the clustered Host in the active node.
Host Throttled situations BizTalk Hosts and server instances


This article provides a collective view of Host Instances and their features in BizTalk360. These features are helping the BizTalk Server users to handle the cluster Host Instances scenarios in a better way.

To know more about the BizTalk360 features, try out the free trial or book a demo.