Saturday, November 04, 2006

No More Silos!
Silos are only good when you're a farmer. One of the most significant additions to MOSS 2007 is the Business Data Catalog, or BDC. This is a shared service that allows you to create metadata describing how to connect to a variety of data sources and send or receive information from them. Out of the box it allows you to connect to a variety of data sources ranging from Oracle and SQL Server to web services. Because it is a metadata-driven abstraction, it delegates to the appropriate ADO.NET provider when performing the actual querying of the data.

The Business Data Catalog is good news because it reduces the amount of data silos that exist out there. Most organizations have dozens of small “one-off” applications that were developed to suit short-term tactical needs but have never gone away. They become headaches for IT staff and a real problem when figuring out how to retain their valuable data without going through hoops maintaining their aging or non-standard systems.

The BDC is a valuable way of surfacing their data through a standard API while reducing much of the development overhead. Once the metadata API has been written telling SharePoint how to connect to your legacy database, there is a BDC object model you can use to quickly and easily access your legacy data sources. Because this is standardized, your developers don’t need to know what the legacy data source looks like, or even what it is. They can spend all their time leveraging its data.

Soon your legacy data will start popping up on SharePoint team sites, to the delight of your clients!

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