Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 includes Microsoft Business Connectivity Services, which are a set of services and features that provide a way to connect SharePoint solutions to sources of external data and to define external content types that are based on that external data. External content types resemble content types and allow the presentation of and interaction with external data in SharePoint lists (known as external lists) and Web Parts. External systems that Microsoft Business Connectivity Services can connect to include SQL Server databases, SAP applications, Web services (including Windows Communication Foundation Web services), custom applications, and Web sites based on SharePoint. By using Microsoft Business Connectivity Services, you can design and build solutions that extend SharePoint collaboration capabilities to include external business data and the processes that are associated with that data

Microsoft Business Connectivity Services solutions use a set of standardized interfaces to provide access to business data. As a result, developers of solutions do not have to learn programming practices that apply to a specific system or adapter for each external data source. Microsoft Business Connectivity Services also provide the run-time environment in which solutions that include external data are loaded, integrated, and executed.

Typical solutions based on Business Connectivity Services

Information workers typically perform much of their work outside the formal processes of a business system. For example, they collaborate by telephone or e-mail messages, use documents and spreadsheets from multiple sources, and switch between being online and offline. Solutions that are based on Microsoft Business Connectivity Services can be designed to fit within these informal processes that information workers use:

- They can be built by combining multiple services and features from external data systems to deliver solutions that are targeted to specific roles
- They support informal interactions and target activities and processes that occur mostly outside formal enterprise systems. Because they are built by using SharePoint 2010 Products, solutions that are based on Microsoft Business Connectivity Services promote collaboration
- They help users perform tasks within the familiar user interface of SharePoint 2010 products.

Here are some examples of solutions that are based on Microsoft Business Connectivity Services:

- Help desk An enterprise implements its help desk, which provides internal technical support, as a solution that is based on Microsoft Business Connectivity Services. Support requests and the technical support knowledge base are stored in external databases and are integrated into the solution by using the Business Data Connectivity service. The solution displays both support requests and the knowledge base in the Web browser. Information workers can view their current requests and tech support specialists view the requests assigned to them. Workflows take support issues through each of their stages. Managers on the technical support team can view dashboards that display help desk reports. Typical reports indicate the number of support issues assigned to each support specialist, the most critical issues currently, and the number of support incidents that are handled by each support specialist during a given time period

- Sales Dashboard A sales dashboard application helps sales associates in an organization quickly find the information that they need and enter new data. Sales orders and customer information are managed in an external database and integrated into the solution by using Microsoft Business Connectivity Services. Depending on their roles, team members can view sales analytics information, individual team members’ sales performance data, sales leads, and a customer’s contact information and orders. Sales professionals can view their daily calendars, view tasks assigned to them by their managers, collaborate with team members, and read industry news

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