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Business Connectivity Services (BCS) to Connect SharePoint Online Apps to Azure & Office 365

At the SharePoint Conference 2011 in Anaheim, California today, Microsoft announced its plans to expand the business critical services delivered by Office 365 and Windows Azure and make moving to the cloud even easier for customers.

“By the end of the year, the first round of service updates to SharePoint Online since Office 365 launched will be complete and will enable customers to use Business Connectivity Services (BCS) to connect to data sources via Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Web Services endpoints. BCS lets customers use and search data from other systems as if it lives in SharePoint–in both read and write modes.”

“BCS in SharePoint 2010 is all about connecting to external data. BCS enhances the SharePoint platform’s capabilities with out-of-box features, services and tools that streamline development of solutions with deep integration of external data and services,” Microsoft stated.

“BCS builds upon its Business Data Catalog (BDC) predecessor in the key areas of presentation, connectivity, tooling and lifecycle management. For example, in SharePoint 2010 it’s easy to create an external content type with SharePoint Designer, create an external list in SharePoint’s Web user interface and take the list offline into Outlook as a set of contacts.”

Also, you can make updates to contacts in Outlook that will cause the data in the external system to update as well.

BCS Architecture:

Learn more about Using Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2010 here.

Microsoft also announced new “SharePoint certification” program designed to take customers’ SharePoint deployments to the next level.

Today, Microsoft announced there’s an addition to the suite of Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) certifications: MCA SharePoint.

“Through a rigorous review board and exam process, the MCA program helps the highest-achieving IT architecture professionals distinguish their expertise with Microsoft server technologies, including SharePoint solutions for enterprise customers,” stated Microsoft.

You can learn more about the MCA Program here.

Microsoft also, shared that SharePoint is a thriving business:

    In 2008, SharePoint surpassed $1 billion in revenues – the fastest product at Microsoft to reach this milestone, and it continues to grow at double-digit speed.

  • More than 125 million people in 66,000 organizations have SharePoint.
  • Over 62 million SharePoint 2010 licenses have been sold.
  • More businesses chose SharePoint than all other vendors combined as their primary collaboration tool to share information inside and outside their organization.

SharePoint has a vibrant ecosystem, and today there’re endless options for the SharePoint platform:

  • More than 700,000 SharePoint developers.
  • Currently 1,000 ISV solutions for SharePoint 2010 and another 1,000 in development.
  • This year alone, Microsoft trained more than 93,000 partners on the SharePoint platform.

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