For those using BizTalk, we have long had the need to store configuration information in a central location that is shared between each of the distributed BizTalk instances. BizTalk itself uses SSO for all of its internal configuration information. Unfortunately, we have not had a tool that allows us to take advantage of this functionality. Currently, in SSO there are three different utilities to perform SSO based tasks. These are the SSOConfig, SSOManage and the SSOClient utilities. All of these tools focus on managing credentials.
There has been a lack of tooling for the ability to create and manage configuration based applications. This has now changed with the creation of the SSO Configuration MMC Snap-In. This tool is an MMC based utility that allows developers to store name/value pairs in the the SSO configuration database. The tool can be downloaded from the Microsoft downloads site and includes three parts.
These are the MMC management tool, a C# class file that provides the code necessary to access and read the configuration information and lastly, an automated MSBuild task to use for deployment of your configuration information.
The MMC Snap-In provides an easy to use interface that allows you to add and manage applications, add and manage key value pairs as well as importing and exporting (in an encrypted format) configuration applications so that they can be deployed to different environments.
The C# client class can be used in your application or helper assembly to read the values stored in SSO.
And lastly, there is the MSBuild custom task that can be used to automate the deployment of your applications SSO configuration data. All that you need to do is export the application and use the MSBuild task to automatically import your settings into your new environment.
After all of this you might be asking “Why would you want to store your configuration data in SSO?”. Well, middle tier server based applications have the need to utilize configuration data that needs to be able to be read at runtime and changed without compiling. These applications also need the ability to have centrally managed and non repeated configuration information be available to all hosts in the middle tier. Typically, middle tier applications implement a custom solution and the architects/developers need to create a means to replicate this information to servers when a scale out solutions are implemented. Instead, this configuration can be stored directly in SSO and since SSO is already accessible to all servers in a scale out solution, we can take advantage of tools that we already use instead of creating custom solutions.