Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Server 2010
Published: May 2010
In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Business Connectivity Services (BCS) enables you to interact and search external systems securely from Microsoft Office applications and SharePoint Server.
Business Connectivity Services includes all the features offered by Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Foundation 2010, and in addition provides the following:
External data in search
Secure Store Service
Business Data Web Parts
External data in workflow
Rich client integration
Business Connectivity Services enables you to search external data in SharePoint Server. SharePoint Enterprise Search in SharePoint Server uses the Business Data Connectivity (BDC) service to crawl and index external data, and offers full-text search on structured and unstructured data. Search also uses the BDC to perform query-time security trimming of external data. SharePoint Server 2010 provides the following support for search:
Efficient crawling through incremental crawls
Indexing of binary large objects (BLOBs)
Pulling of custom security descriptors at crawl time
Crawling customer's proprietary interfaces through the BDC pluggable connector model
The Secure Store Service replaces the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Single Sign On feature. Secure Store Service is a shared service that provides storage and mapping of credentials such as account names and passwords. It enables you to securely store data that provides credentials required for connecting to external systems and associating those credentials to a specific identity or group of identities. It is very common for solutions to try to authenticate to an external system in which the current user is known differently or has a different account for authentication. In such cases, Secure Store Service can be used to store and map user credentials required by the external system. You can configure Secure Store Service so that multiple users can access an external system by using a single set of credentials on that external system.
For example, if a user named "Fred" has one account on the server that is running SharePoint Server and another in a Siebel application, the SharePoint Secure Store Service mechanism enables his Siebel credentials to be stored with his user profile in SharePoint Server. As a result, if he uses a solution from SharePoint Server to obtain data from the Siebel application, SharePoint Server looks up the Secure Store Service database on the server and provides his credentials to Siebel. In this way, Fred automatically logs on to the Siebel application without having to log on to the Siebel application separately.
To provide similar functionality on Office clients, Business Connectivity Services provides a Secure Store provider that uses the Windows Credential Store.
In addition, SharePoint Server enhances the Secure Store Service functionality to include a pluggable single sign-on mechanism that enables you to use alternate Secure Store providers.
Business Data Web Parts are available only in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with Enterprise Client Access License.
Business Connectivity Services continues to offer the following Web Parts: External Data List, External Data Item, External Data Item Builder, External Data Related List, and External Data Connectivity Filter. These Web Parts rely on the BDC, and offer three main benefits:
No required coding, and reusability These Web Parts enable you to display external data on your portal site without writing any code. Also, these Web Parts are generic and reusable and can show any kind of data (external content type) that is registered in the BDC.
Connectability These Web Parts support Web Part connections and make it easier to create Master-Detail applications without writing any code. For example, you can display customers and their details by using the External Data List and External Data Item Web Parts by connecting them. These Web Parts can also be integrated in dashboards.
Customization These Web Parts support WYSIWYG editing in Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 and can be customized by using XSLT transformations.
The Business Data Web Parts are read-only and do not offer write-back capability to the external system.
Rich client integration is available only in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 with Enterprise Client Access License.
Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint Server provides rich client integration by bringing external data to Microsoft Office 2010 applications. You can connect external lists to Microsoft Outlook 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010. This enables you to work with external data such as native Outlook Item types (for example, Contacts, Tasks, and Appointments) in Outlook and in lists in SharePoint Workspace.
Business Connectivity Services also enables offline scenarios on external data in Outlook and SharePoint Workspace. Figure 1 shows how customers in the Northwind database are displayed in Outlook just as native Outlook contacts are.
In addition, Business Connectivity Services enables you to show external data columns in Microsoft Word 2010 by using External Item content controls. And by writing code by using the Business Connectivity Services object models, you can take external data to any Office 2010 application, including Microsoft Excel.