Provide Read and Write access to your Line of Business Applications through SharePoint with BCS (Business Connectivity Services)

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 The interface has gotten outdated, but the information interfaced is still valuable to the organization and its employees.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:

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.

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Free Webinar on Business Connectivity Services by Raymond Mitchell – 1/27/2011

One of the biggest pieces of SharePoint 2010 that has taken the industry by storm is its ability to display data from external systems. And not just display the data, but letting you interact with it, changing the views of the data and also modifying the backend data directly from SharePoint’s presentation layer. All this power comes packaged within Business Connectivity Services (BCS).
We are holding a webinar on this Thursday, 1/27/2011 at 2pm Eastern to show you exactly how this functionality works. If you have attended any of our previous webinars, you know that we dive straight into the subject to ‘show’ you how it’s done and not just talk through PowePoint slides. This webinar will be no different. You can see all the information about the webinar and sign up for it here:
This webinar will be presented by Raymond Mitchell and hosted by Raymond is an excellent speaker who has presented at many conferences and has also written the BCS chapters in the following book: SharePoint 2010 Six in One.  In addition to this, we also recently launched a video tutorial DVD-ROM for BCS authored by Raymond. It is currently available on the site at the pre-release price. The DVD will be officially released on Feb 1st. 
Here are a few words by Raymond himself on BCS and his video tutorials:
"Most of you have probably heard of the Business Data Catalog (BDC) that shipped with SharePoint 2007; it is a component that allows you to use external data inside of SharePoint.  What you may not know is that in SharePoint 2010, the BDC got a new name: Business Connectivity Services (BCS).  They changed more than just the name in 2010 though:

  • While the BDC was only available to customers with the Enterprise license of SharePoint 2007, the BCS is available to all versions of SharePoint 2010, including SharePoint Foundation!
  • The BDC only let you read data from your external systems but the BCS allows you to both read from and write data back to your external systems!
  • The BDC allowed you to surface your external data in SharePoint but the BCS allows you to surface your external data in SharePoint AND inside of Office applications, meaning your data is that much more accessible!
  • One of the big stumbling blocks in getting started with the BDC was the lack of tooling support from Microsoft.  With the BCS both SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 have first-class support for building solutions with the BCS.  What’s even better, many common scenarios can be handled with just SharePoint Designer 2010, without needing a developer or Visual Studio

All of this means that it is that much easier to get started with the BCS.  These videos give you the introduction you need to Business Connectivity Services to allow you to hit the ground running and quickly begin building solutions using SharePoint Designer 2010.

In addition to these videos, I also contributed two chapters on Business Connectivity Services to a newly released book: SharePoint Six-in-One.  These videos compliment the background provided in the book and show additional examples and walkthroughs on topics such as:

  • Creating External Content Types that allow reading and writing back to your external systems
  • Building External Lists that surface external data as if it was a SharePoint List
  • Adding Business Data Columns to your existing SharePoint Lists and Libraries
  • And more…


Hope to see you at the webinar. Once again, here is the link to sign up for the webinar:

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