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March 2005 - Posts

BizTalk: What is the unit of a Duration item in BAM?

This is a translation of a post, originally posted on our corporate blog, since the original post is written in Portuguese, and i've noticed on the logs a few hits from english speaking people on this particular post, i figured it would be more helpful if there was an english version.

The post was written by my partner (Bruno Camara), which is our in house BizTalk expert, and i've provided a (not very literal) translation:


In one of the projects we are are currently envolved, the client requested us, a set of metrics from the requests that are handled by BTS. This request lead me to investigate Business Activity Monitoring (BAM) capabilities. It's impressive how fast and how effortless it's possible to extract a set of metrics directly into an Excel Pivot Table, and from there perform some BI.

I was really impressed, however i've stumbled on a problem that triggered some reflection about BTS usage.

When we are running the wizard to define the activities and attributes (response times, response with errors,etc,etc) that we wish to monitor, there is an item type named "Duration". One of the metrics i wanted to extract was the request's response time,which is nothing more than the duration, (defined by a "Duration" item) between two "Business Milestones". The first one, corresponds to the Receive Shape associated with the reception of the request, and the second one corresponds to the final Send Shape used to send the response (using BAM's own terms).

After configuration, and some test activity in order to gather some results into the Pivot Table, i've immediately noticed that i couldn't identify the duration's unit.  I've searched the documentation,i've googled but found no valid information,until i decided to ask on a biztalk newsgroup to see if someone could provide me with an answer. Finally i've got one from a MSFT guy, and i quote: "It is in days. In the next release, we plan to enable users to define that in the Bam Excel UI."

We wanted to show response time in seconds of even milliseconds, nothing that an excel formula couldn't solve. However that kept me wondering, why is this measure unit in days? does this mean BizTalk wasn't "designed" for request-reply scenarios, in which a response is expected in the order of seconds/milliseconds, but instead it was designed for "long running transactions" scenarios? This could be a interesting discussion, but in the end only the people that architected BTS could provide a definitive answer.

However of one thing i'm sure, BAM sure is spectacular


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