Upgrading BizTalk Server

By Rob Callaway

In my experience there are two upgrade methods for BizTalk Server environments. You either (1) buy new hardware and rebuild from scratch by installing the latest versions of Windows Server, SQL Server, etc. or (2) perform an “in-place” upgrade where you simply install the new version of BizTalk Server to replace the existing version.

While I’ve personally done (and prefer) the former many times, while recently updating QuickLearn Training’s BizTalk Server classes to BizTalk Server 2013 R2 I decided to give the in-place upgrade a shot. I figured that Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 weren’t bringing much to BizTalk table so keeping the existing SQL Server 2012 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 installations for another year or so would be fine. Additionally since our courses utilize virtual machines there’s no hardware/software entanglements to consider.

The Plan

  1. Uninstall Visual Studio 2012
  2. Install Visual Studio 2013
  3. Update BizTalk Server 2013 to BizTalk Server 2013 R2
  4. Install all available updates for the computer via Microsoft Update

Let’s get started.

Uninstall Visual Studio 2012

Unless you’re upgrading a development system this step likely isn’t required but in my case the virtual machine is used for QuickLearn Training’s Developer Immersion and Developer Deep Dive courses. Although Visual Studio supports side-by-side installations of multiple versions I opted to remove Visual Studio 2012 since it wasn’t needed for our courses anymore.

This was pretty easy. I went to Programs and Features and chose to uninstall Visual Studio 2012.

 Install Visual Studio 2013

Again, this was pretty easy. I simply accepted the default options for installation and walked away for 45 minutes. When I came back I saw this.

VS 2013 Install

Upgrade BizTalk Server 2013 to BizTalk Server 2013 R2

This is where I started feeling nervous. Would it work? Is it really going to be this easy? There was only one way to find out. Before starting the upgrade, I thought about the services used by BizTalk Server and stopped the following services:

  • All the BizTalk host instances
  • Enterprise Single Sign-On Service
  • Rule Engine Update Service
  • World Wide Web Publishing Service

I mounted the BizTalk installation ISO to the virtual machine and ran Setup.exe.

BizTalk Setup.exe

The splash screen! This might actually work!

BizTalk Splash Screen

Product key redacted to protect the innocent.

BizTalk License

Finally, it knows I’m upgrading! I guess I was wrong about needing the Enterprise Single Sign-On Service stopped.

BizTalk Summary

Start ESSO and now we are in business. Hit Upgrade!

BizTalk Upgrade

A few minutes later… boom!

BizTalk Upgrade Complete

Install Other Updates

It’s been awhile since we installed updates from Windows Update so let’s run that.


I’m going to be here forever.

Lessons Learned

This upgrading stuff is a lot easier than I thought it would be. I strongly recommend it and I’ll probably use the same method when updating the Administrator Immersion and Administrator Deep Dive courses.

New Class for BizTalk Administrators Goes Even Deeper than Ever Before

By Rob Callaway

I think I can speak for everyone here at QuickLearn Training when I say that I am proud to announce the upcoming release of our BizTalk Server Administrator Deep Dive course! It has been a long labor of love in which I’ve invested an incredible amount of time including many late nights.

We are coming down the home stretch of development of this course, and I’m so excited that I wanted to share the three things about the course of which I am most proud.


This class is a true deep dive into BizTalk Server technologies. Our primary goal for this class is to teach people how to be the best BizTalk Server administrators by teaching them more than how to do their job; we wanted to teach them how BizTalk Server does its job. I don’t want to reveal too much here but we have many detailed discussions about the internal mechanisms of BizTalk Server which provide greater understanding of why we do the things we do on Planet BizTalk.

This is the thing that makes me most excited for this class; I cannot wait to have these conversations with other experienced and interested BizTalk professionals.


Everyone knows that performance testing and tuning is important in order to ensure that your BizTalk Server implementation is successful, but sadly there is very little practical guidance showing you how to do it. We spend about three days of the course focusing on running performance tests, identifying performance bottlenecks, and eliminating those bottlenecks. We look at how you can improve performance by changing hardware, reconfiguring network infrastructure, optimizing the underlying Windows Operating System, and other ancillary services. We also walk you through a variety of advanced configuration options for BizTalk Server databases and hosts.

This is where we’ve spent the most amount of time designing the course. I’ve personally spent weeks running performance tests so I can better understand how these changes affect performance and so I can prove to you the impact that a particular optimization might have.

Performance Monitor


I have one word for you: Throttling. Other than the MessageBox database I cannot think of single component in BizTalk that can have greater impact on performance than throttling. I know it is so clichéd now, but Stan “the man” Lee once said “With great power comes great responsibility”. The sad reality however is that there are so many people who’ve shirked all their responsibility when it comes to throttling.

I have enough faith in my fellow BizTalk professionals to believe that this is not because of carelessness or a general disregard for efficiency but instead stems from a lack of understanding; which isn’t surprising considering the amount of documentation and guidance coming out of Microsoft. We’ve worked hard to create the most comprehensive explanation of throttling including practical information that will finally demystify it forever.

Rate-Based Throttling


I hope that this small insight into the upcoming BizTalk Server Administrator Deep Dive course has sparked your interest in the course. We are currently in the process of testing labs and editing slides and expect to have the course ready later this summer.

You can expect to see it on our calendar starting in July 2014. It will be offered publicly allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to attend remotely or if you prefer you can attend in-person at our state-of-the-art training facility based in Kirkland, WA.