Business Connectivity Services (BCS) for SharePoint 2010 builds on the technology of the Business Data Catalog first introduced in SharePoint 2007. It provides the ability to connect SharePoint to external data sources of all kinds, including but not limited to, other database systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, ERP systems. BCS provides a developer with a means of pre-defining all the information needed by an application to connect with and manipulate this external data through External Content Types (ECT). The most important aspect of ECTs is that once the developer creates it, the ECT will be available for use by SharePoint users to connect and use the external systems without knowing any code.
The following diagram displays a high-level overview of how the components of BCS all work together.
Business Connectivity Services provides mechanisms to enable experienced users, developers, and business unit IT professionals to do the following much more easily:
- Reveal external data from enterprise applications and Web 2.0 services in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and in rich client Office applications.
- Provide Office Type behaviors (such as contacts, tasks, appointments) and capabilities to external data and services.
- Provide complete interaction with the data including write-back capabilities from Office applications and SharePoint Server to the underlying external system data and business objects.
- Enable offline use of external data and processes.
- Bridge the unstructured world of documents and people and the appropriate structured data that is locked in external systems.
Business Connectivity Services is included in Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, SharePoint Server, and Office 2010. However, the feature set and the capabilities differ in each, as shown in the following figure.