What do you think of when you hear the word SharePoint? Usually the answer to this question is: Collaboration. Which is correct! However, SharePoint is so much more than a group/team of people collaborating on their intranet. Today, I want to take a few minutes to describe how an organization can expose their line of business application data in SharePoint.
Here’s a common scenario:
A business currently has a home-grown system that they use. The interface has gotten outdated, but the information interfaced is still valuable to the organization and its employees. All the data is stored in databases (either SQL, Oracle, DB2 etc.). The question now is whether to build another home grown system from scratch?
A possible solution:
Use SharePoint as it was meant to be used – serving as the main presentation layer that interfaces data from various sources in the organization. All you need is SharePoint Server 2010 and SharePoint Designer 2010 and you’re ready to define your data sources using a functionality called Business Connectivity Services (BCS) – no programming required!
I have to tell you that one of the most frustrating things to office workers is having to remember which application to use for which purpose. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you have invested in SharePoint already (or planning to), make that a one stop shop for your end users by presenting and interfacing all line of business application data (such as SAP, Siebel, custom databases). It’s all possible with the power of BCS.
Here are a couple of video tutorials to get you started:
- Define reusable connections to your external line of business applications by using External Content Types
- Expose the external data on SharePoint web pages by using Business Data web parts
These videos and plenty more are in the BCS video package DVD developed by Raymond Mitchell (co-author of book SharePoint 2010 Six In One). These video tutorials demonstrate the step by step processes you would need to make proper use of Business Connectivity Services in your organization.