A question I hear frequently is whether BizTalk 2006 R2 runs on Windows Server 2008. It seems that a lot of people do not consider this software combination to be compatible. In this blog post I want to talk about the pros and cons of this discussion. At this point Microsoft has not announced formal compatibility with Windows Server 2008. On the BizTalk website (www.microsoft.com/biztalk
), the system requirements (http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk/en/us/system-requirements.aspx
) page does not mention specifically that Windows Server 2008 can be used – only variations of Windows Server 2003 with the exception of the web edition. The system requirements for BizTalk RFID does mention Vista as a compatible OS. But the system requirements page DOES mention that 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003 are compatible. So from a cursory survey of the system requirements, it appears that Windows Server 2008 is not supported. There are quite a few people taking the opinion that these software versions are not compatible including a ZD-Net writer, Mary-Jo Foley (http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=1363
The reason I thought it was important to blog about this is that I actually used BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008 on a recent project. The install of Windows Server 2008 that I used was the Windows Server 2008 Enterprise edition. I did not work with an install of Server Core or of Hypervisor, so a system that includes these features may or may not function properly for BizTalk. I installed BizTalk in a domain controlled network but in a single server environment. To provide details for people who are worried about the compatible featureset, I used the FILE and MSMQ adapters, and the BizTalk Server Adapters for Host Systems. I specifically used the MQSC adapter for connecting to WebSphere MQ with the nontransactional client. I created flat-file schemas for the messages I worked with. I was able to run maps and orchestrations and number of other standard BizTalk features. I used the BizTalk admin console and HAT in addition to several other standard BizTalk tools. Additionally, I worked with Visual Studio 2005 to develop the BizTalk solutions and was able to deploy my BizTalk projects directly from Visual Studio. So from my experience, I did not encounter a problem with BizTalk on a Windows Server 2008 system. As a person reasonably knowledgeable on Windows Server technologies, I realize that there are some definite pitfalls that you can encounter if you try to install BizTalk Server 2006 R2 onto a server with Windows Server 2008, so in the next paragraph I will mention some of these.
It is important in this blog post to mention that there are a couple of things to watch out for if you go ahead and install BizTalk Server 2006 R2 onto a system with Windows Server 2008. The following tips should help you avoid the Pitfalls of installing BizTalk on Windows Server 2008:
- If you install onto Windows Server 2008, make sure that enough of the server roles have been enabled to install BizTalk. I would use the BizTalk application dependency chart found at the system requirements page (http://www.microsoft.com/biztalk/en/us/system-requirements.aspx) when selecting the Windows Server 2008 server roles. The roles have been expanded in Server 2008 from the handful found in Server 2003 so you will need to check quite a few boxes under Application Server in order to get all the dependencies that BizTalk requires. I would be a little generous in selecting features to install in case you are unsure so that you do not miss important ones.
- If you install BizTalk onto Server 2008 on a system that is setup with Server Core, be aware that IIS is not supported in any version of Server Core (see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/compare-core-installation.aspx) so many of the BizTalk adapters will not work or will not work as expected. Without IIS you do will not be able to host WCF services in IIS or use various parts of the HTTP, MSMQ, or MQSC adapters and of course will not be able to expose orchestrations as web services over HTTP.
- If you are installing onto a 64-bit system, be aware that one of your BizTalk hosts will need to be configured as 32-bit only if you want to use certain 32-bit adapters. See the following article for more information on this – http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa560166.aspx.
- Be sure the most updated version of the .NET Framework and service pack has been installed. This may sound like something that should be installed standard, but it is actually not always.
- Be sure to run Windows Update on the Windows Server 2008 system prior to installing BizTalk
- Be sure that if you are installing onto a computer in a domain in which group policies are being employed (check with your System Administrators or IT support), all of the required dependency services are running on the future BizTalk server and separate SQL Server, including the COM+ System Application Service, and Distributed Transaction Coordinator service.
I think one reason that Microsoft has not yet provided documentation on using BizTalk with Server 2008 is that it will take a considerable knowledge of the product in order to configure Windows Server 2008 for a successful BizTalk install. Just determining all of the necessary server roles and features can take a while (see the server roles page for more details – http://technet2.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/servermanager/default.mspx). Additionally, because Server Core breaks the functionality of so many of the BizTalk adapters it could be misleading or confusing to users to describe BizTalk as 100% compatible because by design, Server 2008 provides options for securing it to the point that it will not function in some configurations with BizTalk. I think it is possible there are some gaps in the system requirements page for Vista and Windows Server 2008. Its obviously not taking into consideration the Server 2008 prerequisites. Hopefully this blog post can provide some help in this regard. Now, back to the discussion on compatibility, it is possible to find some sparse documentary evidence that compatibility exists.
It is quite difficult (although possible) to find a documented answer to this question. I could only find a few links from some creative searching. Interestingly, I can find more documentary evidence for compatibility with Longhorn than Windows Server 2008. For example, one of the BizTalk SAP adapters mentions it is compatible with Longhorn (see http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=FDAD7F15-8CBF-4151-BFB0-AFF831F6B977&displaylang=en
). This version of the adapter lists BizTalk Server 2006 [R1] so at least some compatibility must have existed that far back. I installed Longhorn during a CTP but did not actually work with BizTalk on Longhorn, so I cannot speak from my experience for this combination. Scott Woodgate mentioned Longhorn in the context of post BizTalk Server 2006 in one of his blog entries – http://blogs.msdn.com/scottwoo/archive/2004/12/16/319457.aspx
– under a BizTalk Server Roadmap document for BizTalk Server 2006 R2.
So in the end I am mostly left with personal experience. I was able to work with BizTalk Server 2006 R2 on Windows Server 2008 but I do not have many resources to back up my experience. If you read this and find some good resources on either side of the argument, be sure to post comments for me. Thanks!