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Plan for business data connections with the Business Data Catalog

SharePoint 2007

Updated: February 26, 2009

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

Updated: 2009-02-26

In this article:

The Business Data Catalog is used to connect data from line-of-business applications that have managed properties used by enterprise search in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. After applications are registered in the Business Data Catalog, the business data types and properties selected by administrators can be used in SharePoint sites, SharePoint lists, and relevant business data Web Parts. These sites, lists, and Web Parts can then be used to analyze and act on business data.

The line-of-business data used by the Business Data Catalog can combine with the core business intelligence functionality of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, Excel Services in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and key performance indicators (KPIs) based on data sources in data connection libraries. The result is an integrated view of business data and business processes across your organization.

As part of planning for your initial deployment Office SharePoint Server 2007, you should understand how to connect applications to the Business Data Catalog and how to present that data in sites, lists, and Web Parts. Then, you can plan for more specific features that use business data, such as business data profiles, business data actions, reports, and dashboards. Together these plans form a comprehensive deployment plan that you can use along with planning worksheets during the initial deployment of Office SharePoint Server 2007.

About the Business Data Catalog

The Business Data Catalog is a service for registering line-of-business applications and certain business data types and properties of those applications. The Business Data Catalog is managed from the Shared Services Administration page for each Shared Services Provider (SSP). For each line-of-business application used by the Web applications and site collections of an SSP, you must first register the line-of-business application and the business data types and properties that you want to expose to users.

After registering applications in the Business Data Catalog, you can decide how to present and use the data of those applications in sites, lists, and Web Parts. Properties in the Business Data Catalog appear in business data profiles and can be used in business data lists and Web Parts, or in filter Web Parts that filter the view of business data Web Parts. These Web Parts can then be used in building SharePoint sites, including reports and dashboards, that display business data. You can find data by crawling properties of business data as part of business data content sources. As with any other crawled properties, the crawled properties of business data are mapped to managed properties for search, and those properties are used during queries to prioritize relevant search results. Properties about users can be associated with properties in user profiles imported by profile services from directory services, such as the Active Directory directory service or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) directory services, or added as additional properties of user profiles.

By using line-of-business data in your SharePoint sites, you can integrate data analysis from these sites with data analysis based on data connection libraries. This allows you to build knowledge about your key business processes, make decisions, and act on those decisions.

For example, a sales department for a large organization uses a line-of-business application that tracks products, sales associates, customers, sales offices, and individual sales. The SSP administrator registers the applications, along with relevant business data types for products, customers, and sales offices. For each of these business data types, the SSP administrator includes relevant properties. For example, for customers, the properties for location, address, description, and purchasing manager are included.

You can create a business data list from sales data in a data connection library, and you can add columns for properties registered in the Business Data Catalog. This list of customers and sales can then be used in business data Web Parts used by reports, so you can compare sales across customers in the Report Center site. By mapping the relevant properties to managed properties in search, someone searching for a specific location where a customer is located will find that customer near the top of search results.

Plan connections to the Business Data Catalog

Start the plan for the Business Data Catalog by considering the line-of-business applications used by your organization. Large databases and data warehouses will typically be accessed by using data connection libraries, and not the Business Data Catalog. The Business Data Catalog is the place to register line-of-business applications.

For each application, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Properties that will be helpful in analyzing business processes and making business decisions.

  • Properties that are less relevant or contain data that you do not want to display widely in your organization.

  • Sites that will use business data, such as reports, dashboards, and personalization sites.

  • Web Parts that are used by SharePoint sites that have business data, including Business Data List Web Parts and KPI Web Parts.

  • Lists you need to build business data Web Parts.

  • Business data actions you want to create and the properties those actions are based on.

  • Properties you expect users to use when searching for business data.

The details of planning properties of business data profiles, business data lists and Web Parts, business data actions, and the properties for searching for business data are described in greater detail in other articles. When you plan for the connections to the Business Data Catalog, it is important to first focus on which applications to connect and how to make those connections.

You should consider that most users in your organization will not have direct access to the line-of-business applications. This is a good idea for several reasons. Some data might be sensitive and not all data in the application will be displayed in sites, lists, and Web Parts. You also want to limit the performance impact on the servers that host line-of-business applications. For these reasons, a common practice is to copy data in a line-of-business application to another server, and then use that location in the Business Data Catalog and business data content sources.

To further limit access to the data, it is a good idea to use a single account or a group that contains a small number of accounts both for accessing the business data in the application and for crawling the data for search. In the case of search, it is a good idea to create a crawl rule for business data applications that uses the administration account for each line-of-business application as the crawling account for each business data start address.

After applications are connected, all included business data types and properties can be used in sites, lists, and Web Parts by any users who have the appropriate permissions. Typically, site collection administrators will create a SharePoint group for viewing business data and include users who have responsibilities to analyze and act on business data. Often, users will act on business data by making business decisions that are not directly involved with the application itself. If acting on data requires changing the data in the underlying database, each user can make changes based on their permissions to the relevant database.

For business data actions that use forms hosted by InfoPath Forms Services, the proper security settings must be configured according to plans for InfoPath Forms Services, so that users who use the forms can expect the data to be updated in the underlying application and not just a duplicated location used by the Business Data Catalog.

If a duplicated location is used, it is a good idea to plan for how often the data in that location is synchronized with the line-of-business data on the application server.

After you decide who has access to data and which applications you want to register, you should consider which business data types and properties to include. The simple rule to use is that if you want users in your organization to analyze data based on a set of business data types, those business data types should be included in the Business Data Catalog.

As you plan for the initial deployment, start with the business data types that you know are most likely to be analyzed by users in your organization, based on the purpose and key business processes of your sites. Include those business data types and plan for the properties that are most likely to produce useful results. For example, for a customer service site, it makes sense to include business data types for customers and for sales associates, enabling users that have the appropriate business data permissions to view and compare sales across customers or sales associates and make business decisions based on the results.

Worksheet action

Use the Business data worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=73271&clcid=0x409) to record each connected application and the relevant business data types and properties, along with the accounts that have permission to the application server, any server that contains a copy of data that is used by the Business Data Catalog, and the accounts that are members of SharePoint groups that have access to the data in the Business Data Catalog.

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 more information about the business data types and properties used in the Business Data Catalog, see Plan for business data profiles.

Plan business data presentation

After you have connected line-of-business applications and the data for relevant business data types and properties to the Business Data Catalog, you can consider how you will present that data in the organization so that it can be used in data analysis, collaboration, and business decision-making.

You should consider the business data that you want for each site in your planned site structure. Based on the purpose of each planned site, you can identify the applications, business data types, and properties to use in building the business data lists and Web Parts used in each site. After you ensure that the relevant data is available in the Business Data Catalog, you can plan the relevant Web Parts and SharePoint lists used by each site.

Worksheet action

Use the Business data worksheet (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=73271&clcid=0x409) to record the KPIs, reports, and business data lists and Web Parts based on each 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.

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.

For more information about planning business data in personalization sites or sites that use targeted Web Parts, see Plan My Sites.

For more information about planning business data in SharePoint lists, see Plan business data lists.

For more information about planning business data Web Parts, see Plan business data Web Parts.

For more information about planning business data actions, see Plan business data actions.

For more information about planning business data search, see Plan for business data search.

Worksheets

Use the following worksheets to plan for business data connections with the Business Data Catalog:

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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