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Why not just use Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server?

The answer to this question is simple: Out of the box, Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server does not provide the necessary features required to accomplish remote monitoring. In order to be successful, remote monitoring requires several things:

  1. a proactive device monitor to determine the status and availability of devices
  2. a real time and offline notification mechanism with long term storage of historical data
  3. an alert/resolution mechanism to provide accountability and establish the health of a site

Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server does not provide a proactive device monitor. BizTalk RFID has limited ability to determine if a device is available and only if it is participating in a business process. It has no ability to proactively determine the status of a device and notify administrators or the help desk if a device goes offline.

Microsoft BizTalk RFID generates Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) events in a “Fire and Forget” manner. BizTalk RFID does not provide long term data storage and retrieval of these events. In order to ensure that no information is lost, a connected client is always required to be listening. This is not practical for remote monitoring over an intermittent network such as the internet.

Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server does not provide an alert/resolution mechanism. Alerts provide accountability in the system and are the metrics in which the health of an individual device or site can be established. Alerts are more than informational. The nature of alerts is that they require resolution. Help desk applications can listen for alerts and automatically generate support tickets. Support tickets can automatically be closed when the alert is resolved, in some cases, without human intervention. It is the alert/resolution mechanism that allows Incident Management Systems to build a knowledge base and profile incidents. Alert metrics such as problem duration or resolution time allows service centers to meet contractual obligations.

It is clear that Microsoft BizTalk RFID Server alone does not meet the requirement for remote monitoring. Microsoft is aware of this and recommends either building a custom application or purchasing Microsoft System Center.