“Before BizTalk360, our team was spending hours getting an overall health report of the status of the 16 central BizTalk hubs”
Senior Service Engineer, Microsoft
About Microsoft Corporation
Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company that manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software and personal computers. Microsoft is well known for its software products such as Windows Operating System, Microsoft Office office suite and Internet Explorer (Edge) browsers. Microsoft’s flagship hardware products include Xbox and Microsoft Surface. Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker by revenue listed by Forbes and one of the world’s most valuable companies.
The Supply Chain Business Technologies (SCBT) is the global supply chain management group at Microsoft. The SCBT team is responsible for the smooth selling of different products like Surface, Xbox, and other hardware, software through different channels like retail outlets, online stores, etc. The SCBT team has a global presence in 6 different centres across 5 countries. With 5 Tier 1 manufacturing partners, 15 supply chain partners, and over 750 suppliers, the SCBT caters to about 50000 retail outlets and 300 retail partners over 60 countries.
For smooth operations and to cater for the demand generated by customers, retailers and manufacturers, the SCBT team built their own Hybrid Integration solution that leverages Microsoft BizTalk Server and Azure Services. Due to the increase in demand, the team had to always keep a watch on the integration solution to make sure every transaction is monitored and passes through the system flawlessly.
The SCBT integration solution running on Microsoft BizTalk Server is one of the most complex integration solutions in the world. This integration solution manages the whole of Microsoft’s manufacturing and supply chain operations globally. Therefore, to keep the system highly available, Microsoft SCBT team maintains 16 different BizTalk Server Groups – each group with its own BizTalk and SQL server so that they can work independently and in tandem. The SCBT integration solution processes over 30 million B2B transactions (including message formats like X12, EDIFACT, XML, SWIFT) per month with 2000+ partners spanning across all business domains. The size of the messages range from 5 KB to 40 MB and the data growth rate is at 6 TB per month.
With more than 250 million messages passing through the integration solution every month, the SCBT team had to make sure the messages reached the destination as expected. Any downtime meant delays to the business processes, customers and overall business. Therefore, in addition to setting up the monitoring solution, the SCBT team had to build processes to manage the 16 BizTalk Server groups. They opted for Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) and built additional monitoring tools on top of SCOM to address their operational and monitoring requirements.
“Each and every transaction that goes through our system is sensitive both in terms of transaction value and brand value. There are huge financial losses if we accidentally ship multiple orders of high value or in another case if someone didn’t get their presents for Christmas they are going to be very upset and that will reflect on the whole brand value. Hence it’s very crucial for us to run this complex system at near 100% accuracy.”
Sandeep Kesiraju, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Supply Chain IT
The team at SCBT had their challenges with SCOM — requiring people with a specialized skillset to understand and use SCOM, and limitations in SCOM to effectively monitor BizTalk Server. The team also found SCOM to be very noisy in terms of the number of alerts triggered, and at times completely lost track of critical alerts from the integration solution. The team spent more time to understand SCOM and managing SCOM in terms of infrastructure, usage and dealing with alerts. One another key challenge faced by the SCBT team was to monitor for non-events. They had to manually keep an eye on the transaction volume to see if they met their target SLAs.
How BizTalk360 helped to overcome the challenges?
The need of the hour for Microsoft SCBT team was a centralized monitoring tool that can trigger alerts when there are intentionally/unintentionally stopped artifacts and the ability to get notified in case of non-events. With BizTalk360, it became easy for the service operations team (who worked on the 16 BizTalk Server Groups) to keep a track and send frequent status updates to the leadership team. What normally took them an hour to gather data and send an email is all eliminated as everything is taken care of by BizTalk360.
“In any operations world, issues are expected to come, but the success key is how soon we can detect and resolve the issues and keep customers and business happy. BizTalk360 does an excellent job of detecting and resolving issues, avoiding customer and business impact. We can rely on BizTalk360 to continuously monitor our hubs and selfheal to resolve issues proactively, thereby keeping our business up with 360 degrees of monitoring”
Anil Kongari, Senior Service Engineer, Microsoft
Features of Interest
Microsoft SCBT team uses specific features of BizTalk360 like Data Monitoring for keeping a watch on the non-events and get notified when there is a failure during message transmission. Similarly, the focused monitoring aspect of BizTalk360 like Auto Healing helps the team to a great extent that most issues are fixed even before the staff could realize about the issue. The centralized dashboard portal gives the team greater confidence for the Hub monitoring.
The SCBT team is also investing in modern cloud based integration solutions such as Azure Logic Apps, Azure API Apps, Azure Service Bus. Since they already use BizTalk server, the latest BizTalk Server 2016 edition serves as a perfect fit for the SCBT team to bridge the gap between on-premise and cloud. BizTalk360 also offers capabilities to perform Logic App operations from the console, configure monitoring on Azure Services (Logic Apps and API Apps), and monitor Azure Service Bus Queues. Therefore, BizTalk360 acts as a single unified operational and monitoring tool for SCBT team to better manage and monitor their integration solution.