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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Step 5: Configuring the Triggering Mechanisms to Process Information

After information is formatted with a common interchange format, the data needs to be transported between organizations or systems. The triggering mechanism that initiates the process to transport data is called BizTalk Messaging. BizTalk Messaging provides the capability to send data in a secure and reliable manner between systems. Because BizTalk is used for both external and internal data transport processes, the transport of information may be between external trading partners through a VPN tunnel over the Internet, or the transport of information may be between internal accounting and client management systems on a corporate LAN.

Overview of BizTalk Messaging

BizTalk Messaging takes information and transports it from a sender to a receiver. BizTalk Messaging is similar to a traditional e-mail system; however, an e-mail system assumes that a message comes in using a standard message format (such as SMTP) and transports it to a recipient using a standard (SMTP) message format. As highlighted in Chapter 1, "Motivation and Uses for BizTalk Server," BizTalk Messaging accepts data in a variety of incoming formats (such as EDI, HTTP, HTTPS, and so on), takes the programmed field map created in BizTalk Editor, and maps the data fields to an output format using BizTalk Mapper to create the transported BizTalk message.

BizTalk Messaging is covered in more detail in Chapter 6, "Introduction to BizTalk Messaging."

Data Stores

In a BizTalk Server environment, information is stored in data stores that are nothing more than SQL databases. The data stores hold the transaction data and more importantly the transaction logs. At any time, through the use of the document tracking utility built-in to BizTalk Server, reports can be generated using the data and log information to validate that information has been sent and received. The information can be verified to ensure accuracy, time stamps, and other critical confirmation of data transaction.

The Shared Queue (SQ) Database

One of the data stores in a BizTalk Server environment is the Shared Queue (SQ) database. The Shared Queue database is a SQL database shared by all servers in a BizTalk Server group. If there is only a single server in an organization, the Shared Queue tracks only one server. If there are multiple servers for a BizTalk Server group, all the queue information is stored and tracked on a single server.

The Shared Queue database also tracks checkpoints for data transactions. The checkpoint is a file that notes the transaction status of a BizTalk Server system. If one server in a group fails, other servers can take over the process tasks, such as receiving messages, posting messages to the work queue, and transporting messages to destination servers. In a way, the failover process facilitated by the checkpoints in the Shared Queue database creates a load balancing and built-in fault tolerance system for the BizTalk Server environment.

The BizTalk Messaging Management Database

Another SQL database critical to the operation of a BizTalk Server environment is the BizTalk Messaging Management database. The BizTalk Messaging Management database stores information related to server configurations, such as group and server settings and messaging configuration settings. The information in the database either is entered using the BizTalk Messaging Manager interface or is programmatically entered using an API. This database effectively stores the system configuration information for the server.

Send and Receive Architecture

As clarified throughout this chapter, BizTalk Server was built with variability so that there is flexibility on the process and data format to send and receive information from a variety of sources and destinations. The architecture enables disparate systems to communicate with each other, and the simplicity of message translation and transformation provides the capability to interconnect multiple systems with the same set of data.

Pass-Through Submission

One method of data transport is called pass-through submission. Pass-through submission allows data to bypass the parsing, decoding, decryption, transformation, and signature verification stages of a BizTalk Server process. Data is passed directly to the destination noted in the submission parameters. Pass-through submission is commonly used to transmit binary files, such as Word documents, applets, structured database files, and so on that do not require translation.

BizTalk Server Administration

For managing and administering the BizTalk Server environment, a BizTalk Server Administration tool is included. The BizTalk Administration tool is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in that shows the Shared Queue databases on a BizTalk Server as a series of queues. Also within the administration tool, an administration can make modifications to the configuration of the server such as setting tracking information, group interaction, messaging transport, queue management, or database replication.

BizTalk Server Administration is covered in Part VI, "BizTalk Server Administration."

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