When to use BCS in SharePoint?

I have found that Non-SharePoint Guys are recommending BCS (Business Connectivity Services) without Rationale.  BCS is a good feature, but we have to understand the Costs & Implications before blindly using it!

Advantages

Following are the scenarios where BCS can turn to be an advantage:

  • Leverage You have an existing Database Table which users are currently updating.  In this case BCS provides a leverage of External List to connect to this table.  Thus SharePoint users can also work on the Database Table in a synchronized manner.  No additional coding / synchronizing efforts.
  • Support All editions of SharePoint On-Premise supports BCS.

Disadvantages

Following are the disadvantages of using BCS for new systems:

  1. SharePoint Online Not all Plans of SharePoint Online supports BCS.  So if you are designing a product that should be living in heterogeneous client environments – think before you decide.  Check References for more information.
  2. Item-level Permissions BCS do not support Item-level permissions since the data is residing on a different source like SQL table.
  3. Alerts Alerts are not supported in BCS External Lists.
  4. User Context You will need additional configuration efforts to Impersonate the User.
  5. Secured Store Service You might get into SSS overheads based on the Impersonation Models.
  6. Authentication Method Based on client SharePoint environment you may face difficulty in choosing right Authentication Method.  Check References for more information.
  7. Firewall Issues Since External Systems or SQL Databases live in Firewall Or Behind the scene infrastructures, there will be additional Configuration & Troubleshooting Efforts for a successful BCS Connection
  8. Automation Deployment If you are using Automation Deployment Scripts, you will need additional R&D time for writing the accurate BCS deployment steps.

Note

BCS can turnout to be a Leverage or Liability based on your Current & Future Requirements

References

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/sharepoint-online-service-description.aspx

http://sharepointpromag.com/sharepoint/6-lessons-developing-business-connectivity-services-solution

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj219580.aspx

Summary

In this post we have examined few good & bad cases of using BCS.

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