I haven’t spent any time looking at Office 365 up to this point.  I met Donovan Follette on the flight down from Chicago.  I also got to spend some time discussing the product offerings with him at the TechExpo and that sealed my decision to attend this session.

The main actor of his presentation is the BCS – Business Connectivity Services. He explained that while this feature has existed in on-site SharePoint it is a valuable new addition to Office 365 SharePoint Online.  If you aren’t familiar with the BCS, it allows you to leverage non-SharePoint enterprise data source from SharePoint.  The greatest benefactor is the end users who can leverage the data using a variety of Office products and more. 

The one thing I haven’t shaken my skepticism of is the use of SharePoint Designer which Donovan used to create a WCF service.  It is mostly my tendency to try to create solutions that can be managed through the whole application life cycle.  It the past migrating through test environments has been near impossible with anything other than content created by SharePiont Designer.

There is a lot of end user power here.  The biggest consideration I think you need to examine when reaching from you enterprise LOB data stores out to an online service and back is that you are going to take a performance hit.  This means that you have to be very aware of how you configure these integrated self serve solutions.  As a rule make sure you are using the right tool for the right situation.

I appreciated that he showed both no code and code solutions for the consumer of the LOB data.  I came out of this session much better informed about the possibilities around this product.