Recommended Platform Configuration for BizTalk Server


In order to ensure that the live environment is secure, stable, performing well and is highly available following are the recommendations from Microsoft which you need to consider.
1) Operating System Service Pack and Critical Updates.
To ensure that all the live environment operating systems for BizTalk and SQL Server has the latest service packs and has latest security updates. The Operating Systems must be checked weekly for latest updates in order to keep the OS environment healthy and secure. The MBSA (Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer) tool can identify that if your system is outdated and needs to be updated. Following links would be helpful

Windows Service Pack Road Map
Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA)
Microsoft Support Lifecycle | Service Pack Support
Microsoft TechNet Security Center

2) COM and DTC updates
BizTalk uses COM and Microsoft Distributed Transaction Coordinator (MSDTC) and COM+ for its operations both internally and when interacting with external systems. So to benefit from these you should have their latest updates from here

3) General Network Health
To ensure that your network connectivity is good between the SQL Servers and BizTalk Servers Run the Pathping <SQL Sever Name> command on the command prompt on the BizTalk Servers. Also Find a 100 MB File and copy it on a shared Directory on each of the SQL servers from each BizTalk Servers. The result should be 0% packet loss and the file should be copied within 5 secs on a 1 Gigabit network.

PathPing Reference
How to troubleshoot network connectivity problems
How to troubleshoot TCP/IP connectivity with Windows XP

4) Avoiding TCP/IP Port Exhaustion
When the range of available TCP ports on the Windows operating systems get exhausted the Client applications or BizTalk may not be able to connect with with via TCP and the following symptoms may be observed:

  • Client applications may fail to connect to the BizTalk Server.
  • The BizTalk Application service may fail to connect to a remote SQL Server.
  • BizTalk Server adapters may fail to connect to a remote server.
  • Each port reservation that is made by a client application consumes kernel memory. If an unusually high number of client port reservations are made then Windows kernel memory use will increase accordingly.

To verify that one or more client applications are not generating excessive TCP/IP socket connections perform the following on the BizTalk servers in the group:

  • From a command prompt window execute “netstat -ano -p tcp”.
  • Count the number of unique Local Address TCP ports open above 1024 for each IP address.

If a large number of client applications initiate the expected number of TCP/IP socket connections but there are not enough available short-lived ports to satisfy the connection requests, then implement one or more of the registry modifications go to Avoiding TCP/IP Port Exhaustion.

If less than 3000 ephemeral ports are currently in use then its fine.

5) Avoiding DBNETLIB Exceptions
Most often the DBNetLib error is when the MessageBox database servers are busy and the biztalk runtime cycles every minute to check the database for availability. Whenever the runtime attempts to connect to the messagebox databases fails the exception below can be found in the event log.

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: BizTalk Server 2006
Event Category: BizTalk Server 2006
Event ID: 5410
Computer: BIZTALKSERVER
Description:
An error occurred that requires the BizTalk service to terminate. The most common causes are the following: 1) An unexpected out of memory error. OR 2) An inability to connect or a loss of connectivity to one of the BizTalk databases. The service will shutdown and auto-restart in 1 minute. If the problematic database remains unavailable, this cycle will repeat.
Error message: [DBNETLIB][ConnectionWrite (send()).]General network error. Check your network documentation.
Error source:
BizTalk host name: BizTalkHost
Windows service name: BTSSvc$BizTalkHost

To avoid DBNETLIB Exceptions

6) Time Synchronization
For the servers in the BizTalk group to operate correctly with their supporting SQL servers and with external systems it is important that the system time for all servers are kept synchronized with the domain. On each of the Biztalk servers in the group and SQL servers hosting the BizTalk databases, open a command prompt window and type the following command:

w32tm /stripchart /computer:<domain controller>

Where <domain controller> is the name of one of the domain controllers for the domain.

If a discrepancy is detected then clocks can be resynchronized by running the following command at a command prompt:

w32tm /resync /computer:<domain controller>

Where <domain controller> is the name of one of the domain controllers for the domain.

Windows Time Service Tools and Settings

7) NetBIOS over TCP/IP
If the BizTalk servers reside in a vulnerable network location then check to ensure any internet/public facing network adapters have NetBIOS over TCP/IP disabled. It should be disabled and should not be exposed to the public as it could be a high security risk.

Open Control Panel, Network Connections, and locate the network adapters which are internet facing. Open the properties of the network adapter(s), open the properties of TCP/IP, and on the General tab click “Advanced…”. Click the WINS tab and review the NetBIOS settings.

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