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BizTalk 2009 : Host Integration Server 2009 - Performance Testing and Tuning

6/15/2011 11:47:32 AM
Performance has never been as critical as it is today. The compelling need to get the most out of our resources has led Microsoft to improve the mechanisms available to conduct performance testing and also performance tuning.

The concept of measuring performance is very much like that of addressing security. Performance has to be addressed in several layers. In mainframe integration scenarios, you should start from the mainframe layer, and then you can move to the Network layer, the Services layer, and finally to the Application layer. The fact that every layer has its own characteristics and constraints makes planning for thorough and successful performance testing and tuning a required activity.

1. Performance Testing

When working with Transaction Integrator, we recommend using the Microsoft Visual Studio Test Edition. Although many tools are available for performance testing, Microsoft Visual Studio Test Edition is the one tool that integrates best with .NET servers. By using it, you can create test scripts to stress your application. You can stress test TI objects published as web services and as WCF services, and you can also test their web consumer applications. To target BizTalk applications that consume TI objects or that use the BizTalk Adapter for Host Applications, you can also use LoadGen. Remember that the BAHA runtime captures the data sent from the BizTalk Messagebox database and sends it to the Transaction Integrator runtime. From there you can create your own custom message creator implementing the IMessageCreator interface and generate as many input instances as you need.

1.1. Performance Counters

Once you decide which approach you will follow to stress Transaction Integrator, then you have to define which performance counters you will collect. Yes, you are right; we're skipping the part of the service-level agreement (SLA) definition because that will entirely depend on your architecture. Host Integration Server includes numerous counters for the different roles that can be deployed. The use of the Host Integrator performance counters will allow you to capture critical data about multiple elements of your solution, including variables such as the time that it takes a transaction to go to the mainframe and back to the client application or the time that applications like BizTalk Server take to call TI objects.

For instance, for the CICS link programming model, we recommend the following counters for the SNA Gateway server role:

  • SNA Connections: Throughput Bytes/Sec

  • SNA Logical Unit Sessions: Throughput Bytes/Sec

  • SNA Logical Unit Sessions: Data Bytes Received/Sec

  • SNA Logical Unit Sessions: Data Bytes Transmitted/Sec

  • SNA Adapter adaptername: Throughput Frames/Sec

  • SNA Adapter adaptername: Connection Failures

  • SNA Adapter adaptername: Successful Connects

And for the Transaction Integrator server role, we recommend the following:

  • App Integration WIP\Average method call time

  • App Integration WIP\Cumulative calls

  • App Integration WIP\Host resp time CICS link

  • App Integration WIP\Link calls/sec

  • App Integration WIP\Total errors/sec

  • App Integration WIP\Bytes received from an SNA host/sec

  • App Integration WIP\Bytes sent to an SNA host/sec

Ultimately, the selection of the performance counters will depend on your specific needs. The list of counters provided here is suggested for an architecture using TI nodeless servers and SNA Gateway servers.


You can find detailed information about the performance counters available for Host Integration Server at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa771453.aspx.

1.2. IBM RMF Monitor

One way to monitor mainframe performance is through the use of the IBM RMF Monitor. It performs post-processing and online monitoring functions. It is accessible from TSO and among other things can monitor the VTAM address space and performance relevant data in a z/OS environment.

Figure 1 shows the main options for RMF Monitor. For details on how to use it, you can read the IBM Redbook entitled "SG24-7110-00 z/OS Diagnostic Data Collection and Analysis."

Figure 1. RMFMON available from ISPF

2. Performance Tuning

There are a few recommendations from a performance standpoint that we would like to high-light. Some of them are also available at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa745251.aspx.

2.1. APPC

The following recommendations apply when working with the APPC API and/or SNA aliases:

  • Pre-activate the LU 6.2 sessions: This will prevent a short delay in establishing new LU 6.2 sessions. Sometimes the mainframe preactivates the sessions, which may cause a short delay in the Host Integration because the mainframe is actually deciding when to serve the request.

  • Perform SNA link tuning: This should be performed depending on the type of network used. For IP-DLC, we recommend validating the advanced settings in the IP-DLC Link Service with the mainframe team.

  • SNA load balancing: Although this is not a tuning activity, we recommend the use of APPC load balancing for fault tolerance and redundancy.

2.2. Transaction Integrator

The following performance improvement recommendations apply when working with Transaction Integrator:

  • Tune the Remote Application (Mainframe TP): This should be performed by the mainframe team.

  • If you are not using 2PC, configure the TI component as Does Not Support Transactions so that 2PC is not attempted: The same applies for the BAHA configuration. Verify that the Use Transactions property is set to No if you are not using transactions.

  • It is very important to tune the network: Host Integration Server performance is very impacted by the number of hops between the mainframe and it. If you cannot have the Host Integration Server located in the same switch where the mainframe is connected to, then try to minimize the number of hops between them. Something additional you will have to analyze is whether the network switches are set up to half-duplex or full-duplex. Work with the network engineers to analyze Netmon traces and to troubleshoot any possible bottleneck.

2.3. Session Integrator

For Session Integrator transport, we recommend the use of the SNA transport (DLC or IP-DLC) over TN3270 to maintain 100% reliability of the 3270 conversation.

2.4. BizTalk Adapter for Host Applications

From a performance standpoint, we recommend you create a new send handler and configure the HostApps adapter to use it. By doing this, you can set up the HostApps adapter to run in a host instance other than the default BizTalkServerApplication one. By doing that, you avoid having the HostApps adapter in competition with resources designated for orchestrations and other in-process resources. Likewise, if you have more than one server available, you can create more host instances for the HostApps adapter. Doing so will improve the BAHA throughput and also will provide redundancy for your solution. Figure 2 shows a BizTalk Server solution with two BizTalk Servers hosting two BAHA host instances.

Figure 2. SNAHost hosts for SNANODE and SNABACKUP servers in SNAHUB BizTalk Server group
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