SharePoint 2010 – New Shared Services

With SharePoint 2010 around the corner, I thought I’d provide a brief overview of the NEW Shared Service model. That is, how the Shared Service Provider (SSP) from SharePoint 2007 has fundamentally changed for SharePoint 2010.

So, what’s this “Service” thing you’re on about?

Well, officially, in SharePoint 2010 terms, a Service is a “middle tier feature that performs the useful function of providing Data or Processing resources and is used by SharePoint features” – nothing new or surprising here then, but worth clarifyingI think. There are however some exciting changes in the way such Services are structured, as discussed below.

SharePoint 2010 Shared Service Changes

Firstly, and very importantly, SSPs are gone. The reasons for this include (a) SSPs grouped items that were not necessarily similar, (b) in SharePoint 2007, some users found it hard to deploy and manage SSP’s, (c) SSP’s didn’t necessarily scale to the nth degree (too many services in one DB)

So, what’s replaced the SSP I hear you cry? Well, the new SP2010 concept is “Service Application” or “Service App”, where SSP Services are split out into separate services, for example:

  • Profiles, Audiences = People Service App
  • Search = Search Service App
  • Excel = Excel Service App
  • Performance Point = Performance Point Service App
  • Visio Services = Visio Service App
  • Word = Word Service App
  • PowerPoint =  PowerPoint Service App
  • Office Web Applications = Office Web App
  • Project Server = Project Server App

There are a whole host of Service Apps present, but the general idea is that you have an App for each Service, rather than one App with lots of Services crammed into it. The Services, as before, will be managed via Central Admin. The new model can be illustrated well in a diagram, just like the one below:


From the above diagram, you can see many of the benefits the new Service Model provides; amongst other things it allows:

  • A more effective targeting of services to the Web apps you’ve created (Web apps consume services on an individual basis)
  • Each Web app can use any combination of the available Service Apps
  • You can deploy multiple instances of the same Service Apps – giving each one a unique name
  • This model also allows Cross-Farm Service Apps
  • You can also write your own services that take advantage of the SharePoint infrastructure!

Secondly, some of the services also have their own database, rather than a shared database, like in SP2007. The following services are examples of services that have their own database:

  • Search
  • People/Profile Import
  • Tagging
  • Taxonomy
  • InfoPath (session state)
  • Secure Store
  • LOBi
  • Web Analytics
  • Performance Point

Thirdly, with this new Service model comes some new terms, all of which I’m sure will be used heavily in the next few months. I thought I’d put them out there so everyone knows what they are and can skill up ahead of their colleagues!:

  • Service: A set of bits installed on a SharePoint 2010 farm that’s capable of providing some functionality
  • Service Application: A specific farm-level configuration of the Service in SharePoint. For example, the specific configuration of Office Web apps Service in your newSharePoint 2010 farm.
  • Service Machine Instance: A machine-level instance of the Service running on an app server
  • Service App Proxy: A pointer to a Service App that exists on the WFE
  • Service Consumer: A SharePoint feature, such as a web-part, that talks with the service and makes its functionality available to an end user

What Service apps are NEW then, and what do they actually do?

You’ve seen from the above that the architecture has been modified and they are lots of NEW Services available in SharePoint 2010. I’ve provided a brief list of some of the new Services and what they do below:

  • Access Services - Allows viewing, editing, and interacting with Access databases in a browser.
  • Managed Metadata Service - Provides access to managed taxonomy hierarchies, keywords, social tags and Content Type publishing across site collections.
  • Secure Store Service –Provides capability to store data (e.g. credential set) securely and associate it to a specific identity or group of identities.
  • State Service - Provides temporary storage of user session data for Office SharePoint Server components.
  • Usage and Health data collection - This service collects farm wide usage and health data and provides the ability to view various usage and health reports.
  • Visio Graphics Service - Enables viewing and refreshing of published Visio diagrams in a web browser.
  • Web Analytics Service Application - Enable rich insights into web usage patterns by processing and analyzing web analytics data .
  • Word Conversion Service Application – Provides a framework for performing automated document conversions

For more new services info and to get your hands dirty (as it were), I’d encourage you to keep an eye on this blog.

This article was authored by:


James Kemp
SharePoint Architecture Consultant
Microsoft Consulting Services UK

Click here to see my bio page