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Plan for business data profiles

Office 2007

Updated: February 26, 2009

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

Updated: 2009-02-26

In this article:

Good planning for business data profiles can transform a site collection from a place where users collaborate on documents and link to content and sites that support that content to a place where users can easily interact dynamically with key business data that is synchronized between the Web browser and underlying data sources.

As part of planning your initial deployment of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, you should understand which business data applications you want to connect to the Business Data Catalog, and which business data types and properties of those applications you want to make available in Office SharePoint Server 2007. Then, you can use these plans during your initial deployment of Office SharePoint Server.

About business data profiles

Business data profiles describe the properties of every important person, organization, product, business location, or any other type of data tracked by your business applications. You can create profiles for all types of data, depending on the needs of your organization and the purpose of each site collection you plan. The properties of business data profiles are also used by other features of Office SharePoint Server 2007.

Plan connections to the Business Data Catalog

The Business Data Catalog is a service that exposes data from enterprise applications to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007. The Business Data Catalog can be used by multiple site collections in one or more server farms. Each line-of-business application is represented by a Web application instance that contains its data in the Shared Services Provider (SSP), consolidated into a single Business Data Catalog for all business data.

The Business Data Catalog enables line-of-business applications to make data available as Office SharePoint Server 2007 properties. These properties can be used in lists, Web Parts (including reports and multi-report summaries, such as dashboards), and key performance indicators (KPIs) created from business data lists. These properties can also be used as metadata for search, user and business data profiles, and custom Web applications. Examples of line-of-business applications include:

  • SAP Business Information Warehouse or mySAP ERP

  • Siebel eBusiness Applications

  • Attunity Legacy Data Access Solutions

  • Microsoft BizTalk Server

The Business Data Catalog can also recognize properties from database servers, such as Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, and properties from Excel Calculation Services. Application data can be managed interactively by using business data actions, often by using Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 forms.

Before you can use data from line-of-business applications in business data profiles and other features of Office SharePoint Server 2007, you must perform the following steps:

  1. Register the application in the Business Data Catalog.

  2. Map the application properties to properties in the site collection and SSP schema.

  3. Create and crawl the content source for the business data application.

Plan to include business data content sources

You can create content sources to crawl business data. The properties of business data profiles are updated whenever a content source that contains the location of the business application is crawled. For more information about crawling business data, see Plan for business data connections with the Business Data Catalog.

Plan properties of business data profiles

Business data profiles are created when an application is registered in the Business Data Catalog. Business data profiles are created for every business data type in a business application that the SSP administrator chooses to display. Copies of these profiles exist for every site collection that uses the same SSP.

Business data profiles are similar to user profiles in that they contain a set of properties and associated values. The properties of each profile are crawled by the SSP and are then available for use in search queries and business data features of Office SharePoint Server 2007.

In addition to the properties of business data types, business data profiles include links for all business data actions that have been created for the application. For more information, see Plan business data actions.

The properties of business applications in the Business Data Catalog should be considered as part of your overall information architecture planning. Based on the purpose of each site collection, decide whether it will need to use each business application.

After you identify site collections that will use data from business applications, think about which features used by each site collection will use that data, and how data will be used across the SSP. Examples of types of data that might be used by your organization within each site collection include:

  • Users, such as customers, employees, and business partners.

  • Organizations that might also be customers, partners, internal groups or divisions, and other groups associated with the data in one of your organization's core business applications.

  • Places, such as different sales regions.

  • Products or services provided by your organization.

Many business applications track these types of data. Importing that data into the Business Data Catalog as business data types with business data profiles is relatively simple. The important planning considerations include:

  • Which properties to include during import.

  • How those properties are displayed in the business data profile.

  • How those properties are displayed in other features that depend on the properties of business data.

Only SSP administrators can view the properties in the business data profiles in the Business Data Catalog. However, anyone else can view the business data profile for each business data type by clicking a link to that business data type in a business data list or Web Part. For example, in a list of recent customer transactions, clicking the name of the customer displays the profile for that customer, including the customer's name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. Similarly, clicking the product name within the same list displays a profile for the product that contains its name, description, and price.

The properties of business data profiles can be displayed in the following additional ways:

  • Business data search

  • Business data lists

  • Business data Web Parts

  • Filter Web Parts that filter by properties in the Business Data Catalog (such as the filters in personalization sites and dashboards)

  • KPIs based on business data sources

  • Reports built around one or more KPIs or business data Web Parts

  • Business data actions

  • InfoPath Forms Services browser-enabled forms

Business properties that refer to user profile data or discussion list properties redirect to the profile stores for those types of profile data, which are not stored within the Business Data Catalog. For example, personnel records stored in SAP, which are imported by the People and Audiences Shared Service, appear as user profiles that can be managed from the relevant SSP.

Each of the features in the previous list that is built on business data has its own detailed planning considerations. When planning business data profiles, it is important to focus on including the relevant properties that will make the profiles useful in themselves, while also being useful for these other features. In this case, it might be useful to work backwards, starting with planning sites, then highlighting the business data features for each site and planning for each of them, and then listing all of the relevant properties to include in the business data profile for each business data type used in that site. By the time you evaluate all of your sites, you will have a list of applications, business data types, and properties for each business data type. Then, you can simply ensure to include those properties when registering applications in the Business Data Catalog.

For example, when you plan your site collections, you might decide to track business sales on a single site collection. You plan to use the portal site template to host a central site that has news and information relevant to all sales associates and managers, personalization sites that track sales for each employee, and a dashboard that presents sales across the organization that can be filtered by date, sales associate, product line, or location. You also want employees to be able to search for customers, particularly when managing key business accounts.

The administrators and planners for the site collection plan the Web Parts and lists needed to meet these business needs. The dashboard will have a set of business data Web Parts such as KPIs, Excel Web Access Web Parts, and Web Parts that display data from applications that are registered in the Business Data Catalog. Each of those business data Web Parts will gather its data from a different business data type in the central business application that is tracking sales. The relevant data — and associated properties — will depend on what is being tracked. Each filter Web Part used will filter based on a different property of business data. Search is built on a subset of managed properties that is used in queries and search scopes when users search for customers, products, or sales offices. Finally, the business actions you implement often use business data properties.

For each of the pages and sites you plan for the site collection, you plan the business data types and relevant properties you will need. By the time you are done, you will have a list of business data types for the application, the properties you want to track for each one, and the properties that are used most often across the site collection. Every site collection will be planned similarly, and the SSP administrator for the Business Data Catalog will end up with a complete list of business data profiles to implement during initial deployment.

Business data property and profile planning is an iterative process in which you first plan information architecture, then consider the sites planned based on that information architecture, then identify features for each site, and then use information about the properties needed by those features to plan and create business data profiles in the Business Data Catalog. In that process, you might also identify gaps in the information architecture planning or find that some business data properties are lower priority and can wait until later deployment. It can be just as important to decide what not to include in the initial deployment.

Worksheet action

Use the Site creation worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=73138&clcid=0x409) to record the sites that use business data applications for your site collection hierarchy and for each site collection. Also record the business data Web Parts and SharePoint lists that are used for each site.

Use the Business data worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=73271&clcid=0x409) to record the applications registered in the Business Data Catalog, along with the included business data types and properties for each business data profile.

For data sources based on SQL Server databases and other relational databases that will be stored in data connection libraries, record the planned data source and the relevant business data types and properties used by SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services when analyzing and displaying the data.

For each data source on the worksheet, record the KPIs, reports, and business data lists and Web Parts based on that data source, and add the properties used by each list or Web Part. For KPIs, record the planned calculation method and the targets for each indicator level of the KPI.

Worksheets

Use the following worksheets to plan for business data profiles:

Download this book

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable content for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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