Rehmani Consulting, Inc. offers a set of video training content on Business Connectivity Services (BCS) for SharePoint 2010. We see BCS as a suite of important features that enable Microsoft Office applications (including SharePoint) to support enterprise users who need to work with external data sources (and external content types, or “ECTs”) within their Microsoft computing environments.
Certainly a substantial amount of the data exposed to SharePoint users, to date, already resides in instances of Microsoft’s own data repositories (principally SQL Server 2008, R2 or 2012). But what about data that may reside in structured data repositories, like MySQL? There is, after all, a substantial portion of the enterprise business community that has made some use of MySQL. Can SharePoint be used to expose data from ECTs like MySQL in a cost effective manner?
On February 9, 2012, Doug Mahugh, Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., in a post to the Interoperability Blog on MSDN, titled: Open Source OData Tools for MySQL and PHP Developers provided the developer community with an introduction to two sets of tools that PHP developers, and/or MySQL Administrators can use to exploit the OData protocol to support inclusion of data from MySQL as an ECT via BCS in SharePoint 2010.
Even earlier, in May, 2011, Eric White in an article published online on the MSDN Magazine web site, Consuming External OData Feeds with SharePoint BCS, describes how to write a ” . . . .NET Assembly Connector that consumes an Open Data Protocol (OData) feed.” (quoted from Mr. White’s article, a link to which has been provided here).
We think Microsoft’s efforts to increase the value of BCS as a SharePoint feature through the development of the Open Data Sources Protocol make a lot of sense. With OData Sources enterprise business users can expose MySQL ECTs within a SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition computing environment. The two references we have cited demonstrate methods that developers can certainly implement to accomplish the job. But what of line of business (LOB) users, who know what they are after, but cannot cost justify implementing this protocol via the services of comparably expensive development resources?
In fact, LOBs can neither avail of Mr. White’s, nor Mr. Mahugh’s approach without recourse to specialized developers. Bottom line, LOBs lack the internal programming skills required to derive the real utility of either method. Therefore, these enterprise users have moved at a much slower rate to use SharePoint to expose OData Sources for computing requirements.
In the next post to this blog we will present what looks to be precisely what these LOB users have been after, a feature set of SharePoint 2013 that provides a less challenging method for enterprise users to expose this open source structured data in SharePoint.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved
on behalf of Rehmani Consulting, Inc.