Throttling Improvements in BizTalk Server 2006

Managing the performance thresholds of a BizTalk Server 2004 machine posed a few challenges that have been addressed very nicely in the upcoming BizTalk 2006 release. I've been thinking about performance lately after checking out my man Larry Beck's Throughput and Capacity Tester and hadn't seen much public mention of the performance management improvements in Pathfinder.

In BizTalk Server 2004, the central throttling parameters are applied to all servers in the farm, and the parameters weren't exposed through a user interface. The adm_ServiceClass table contains those watermarks that are used to throttle the server. In BizTalk Server 2006, we introduced more fine grained control of resource management and targeted performance thresholds to hosts, not the entire BizTalk configuration. This means that I can give priority and primary processing power to a single host that sits among multiple hosts on a given machine.

From the new BizTalk Management Console, you can select a given host and view the performance settings from the Advanced pane.

Then, I can drill into the throttling thresholds ...

and the publishing settings ...

and finally the processing settings.

The Help file with BizTalk Server 2006 has fairly good descriptions on how to use each of these parameters. Note that the "0" value often means that the parameter should be ignored, not that the threads per CPU, for instance, should actually be 0. Finally, after you've set everything up nicely, you can use the various performance counters with BizTalk Server 2006 to watch how your server is behaving with regards to these watermarks.

Naturally any performance tuning of a BizTalk solution also requires the architect to also understand how to tune ASP.NET, the CLR, and each BizTalk adapter. Of course all these cool new BizTalk configuration settings means that we need to do a good job of telling folks the implications of changing them! I doubt many BizTalk developers have ever even tweaked the few available settings in a BizTalk Server 2004 farm, and now that we've given so much more throttling power to the architect in BTS 2006, understanding best practices is all the more crucial.