Posts Tagged Performance Tips

New BizTalk articles on TechNet Wiki

Here are a few TechNet Wiki articles that have become available recently. I have usually found it difficult to find relevant content on the TechNet Wiki so I thought it would be good to highlight a few of these.

Improving performance when executing a BRE rule: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/high-cpu-when-executing-a-business-rules-engine-bre-policy.aspx

Implement ordered messaging with BizTalk and SSIS: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/implementing-end-to-end-ordered-delivery-using-microsoft-biztalk-server-and-sql-server-service-broker.aspx

BizTalk load testing in VS 2010: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/load-testing-biztalk-server-solutions-with-visual-studio-2010.aspx

Load testing for simultaneous BizTalk unit tests: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/create-a-load-test-to-perform-multiple-unit-tests-simultaneously.aspx

Install and configure BAM in a multi-server environment: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/install-and-configure-bam-business-activity-monitoring-in-a-multi-computer-environment.aspx

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VS 2010 Performance Improvement

I was working on testing some bugs out on my BizTalk 2010 beta computer and encountered a popup in VS 2010 advertising that it would run faster with the addition of a certain patch for the Windows Automation API. I usually skip these on a test VM but sometimes VS 2010 does run pretty slow when you only allocate 1.5 GB for the whole VM. ūüôā¬†So I clicked on it and downloaded it and was surprised that VS 2010 does run a lot faster even on only 1.5 GB of RAM.
 
This hotfix does not mention VS 2010 at all in the description: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971513. This hotfix was created prior to VS 2010 RC so I guess it was suggested as a fix when the RC intellisense issues came up. I was using VS 2010 RTM Premium. This blog post mentions that the fix was already forward applied to VS 2010 RTM (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/archive/2010/03/02/second-patch-now-available-for-intellisense-crashes-in-vs-2010-rc.aspx), but this was not the case for me. I was not exactly encountering blocking performance, it just took a long time for VS 2010 to load and do things. I did not initiate the popup Рit just appeared and I followed it so I am guessing this functionality to advertise the hotfix was a backup plan in case the VS 2010 RTM fix failed. Here is the Connect link for the original performance issue for anyone interested: https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/532783/very-slow-intellisense?wa=wsignin1.0.
 
Anyway, I recommend applying this hotfix for faster VS performance. Interestingly, this hotfix comes in a different download for XP – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=cd55456d-9703-42a0-b982-8a8a89ca0aa3&displaylang=en. This may even improve VS performance for previous VS versions before 2010.
 
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WebSphere on Windows (WOW)

Microsoft recently conducted some interesting studies on running WebSphere on Windows. Their research is published at the website http://www.websphereloveswindows.com/, which has an intro splash that looks more like a flash-based Valentine’s card than anything else. I recommend clicking the "Skip Animation" link and digging into the research information. This is a compelling study to consider running Windows for WebSphere applications rather than IBM OSes and Unix variants.
 
I look at this information as being  another step forward, similar to announcements like integrating PHP with Windows Azure data resources (see http://phpazure.codeplex.com/).
 
The Stock Trader sample download that was used in the benchmarks for the study includes some very interesting code from a WCF perspective. I recommend everyone explore this sample for more information about the study.
 
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BizTalk Performance Guides vNext

One of the themes I have been blogging on for a while is the relationship of BizTalk Server 2006 R2 and Microsoft’s 2008 product stack including Windows Server 2008, SQL 2008, and Visual Studio 2008. As everyone should know, the 2008 product stack is not supported with BizTalk Server 2006 R2.¬†Over the past couple of weeks¬†I have¬†learned that some of the BizTalk Server Performance Optimization Guide articles (starting at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc558617.aspx) should not be applied to Windows Server 2008 BizTalk implementations due to some performance differences between Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Server 2008. Even though it is a best practice to avoid unsupported environment configurations, I know for a fact there are quite a few organizations that have BizTalk 2006 R2 running with Windows Server 2008. I recommend against this configuration on production boxes due to the supportability issues, but it is very valuable from a BizTalk vNext perspective especially if you are working on a BizTalk 2009 migration plan.
 
So what is the result of following the performance guide in an unsupported configuration of BizTalk 2006 R2 and Windows Server 2008? Well, the guide was made with the assumption that Windows Server 2003 was being used, so the optimizations made specifically for that OS will not be the best ones for 2008. So watch out for OS tuning parameters or options in the guide because these will not always be the best ones for Windows Server 2008. Microsoft will be releasing an updated performance optimization guide a couple weeks after BizTalk 2009 is released under RTM. So if you are working in a high performance BizTalk environment and want to migrate to Windows Server 2008 then I would wait to deploy your applications until after the new optimization guide is released because the newer guide will include optimizations for Windows Server 2008.
 
But wait, what if you want to use BizTalk 2006 R2 in the unsupported configuration in production? Unfortunately, I have not heard the configuration will ever be supported, but I would still wait for the updated optimization guide so you can at least optimize the OS settings. If I uncover any other snafus or gotchas of using the updated performance guide in the unsupported configuration, I will be sure to let you know about them. ūüôā
 
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BizTalk and Hyper-V

Yesterday I learned about a resource for configuring virtual BizTalk instances in conjunction with the use of Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. This guide is available on MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc768518.aspx) or via a white paper download. This guide is very interesting because it pushes along the guidance on how to implement a scalable solution with BizTalk in which host instances are spread out on different servers for maximum performance.
 
The general MSDN guide for scaling out is at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa546759.aspx, and an article for scaling out receiving hosts is at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa577415.aspx. The benefit of the new Hyper-V guide is it shows much more of the details for different configurations of BizTalk host instances. The general scaling out guide basically makes the assumption that individual host instances will be physical machines. The Hyper-V guide represents the host instances as virtual machines with the guest OS of Windows Server 2003. It is important to note that this guide does not recommend or endorse BizTalk running in a host OS of Windows Server 2008, although this is technically possible. The guide does use Hyper-V included Windows Server 2008 for the host OS. It is important to remember that BizTalk licensing is based on the number of processors, any number of virtual instances may be installed with BizTalk on the same server. Here is a partial picture from the Hyper-V guide showing the relationship between the host with Hyper-V and guest BizTalk virtual machines:
 
hypervpic
 
Another one of the strengths of the Hyper-V guide is it shows a considerable level of detail about how scaling out the SQL Server instances should work, including having SQL Server instances virtualized as well. Interestingly, the SQL Server virtual machines ARE running on Windows Server 2008. Many file-level details such as filegroup organization and the separation of data files for SQL Server is discussed, which is very helpful for people who are planning on using Hyper-V with SQL. Another valuable detail is that specific examples of SAN implementation with RAID modes is also discussed. This extends the information previously available in the scaling out SQL Server for BizTalk installs article (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa578625.aspx).
 
One of the values of this guide is that it helps reduce the cost and risk of entry for a customer into a Windows Server 2008 environment. Although BizTalk Server 2006 R2 is not officially supported on Windows Server 2008, Hyper-V as discussed in this guide enables some of the major strengths of Windows Server 2008 to be applied indirectly to BizTalk Server 2006 R2 host instances such as utilization of a larger amount of RAM and host OS performance improvements that would not be possible with the previous version of Virtual Server 2005. For companies not willing to run BizTalk Server 2006 R2 due to the risk of not being officially supported, this solution provides a documented workaround.
 
Check out the guide and have fun virtualizing BizTalk with Hyper-V!

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