Where’s my SSP!? Introducing the SharePoint Services Architecture

Posted Monday, November 2, 2009 9:41 AM by CoreyRoth

Shared Services Provider.  Gone! 

The concept of the SSP is no more.  It has been replaced with a new concept called the Services Architecture.  Your SharePoint installation will not have a separate SSP site like you had in the past.  You now manage all of your familiar services like Search, the BDC, Excel Services directly through Central Administration on the new Manage Service Application page.  This is where you will go to find familiar screens like Search Administration, User Profiles, and the Business Data Catalog (now BCS).  The trick to getting to them, click on the item in the list and then use the Manage button on the toolbar. 

I’m not going to go into a lengthy explanation of how it all works (because honestly I don’t understand it all), but I’ll give you a quick run down.  Before we start, the term Service is highly overused.  In this case it does not refer to a WCF, Web, or Windows service.  In this case, Service refers to the actual program be it Search or something that you write yourself.  A Service Application is an the configuration of your service on the farm.  The provider of the Service will provide you the developer with a Service Application Proxy.  This is basically some type of assembly that interacts with the service via WCF.  If the Service Application is installed on multiple servers in the farm, a built-in load balancing scheme will be used to distribute request among servers.  From my understanding, all of the existing API calls for things like search have been updated to fit into this model.

Effectively the Services Architecture is a new pluggable architecture which makes it possible for third parties to create their own services.  I’ll also point out that you can now publish specific services and consume specific servers from remote farms which gives you quite a bit more flexibility.  As opposed to the all or nothing we had with sharing SSP services between farms in MOSS 2007.  Andrew Connell has a post that goes into more detail on why they shifted to this new architecture.  It’s definitely worth the read.

Since the SSP is gone, you may be wondering what’s going to happen with all my code that references the SSP.  If you using something like the UserProfile object and using the ServerContext object to reference the SSP, it may or may not work.  ServerContext has been marked as deprecated.  If you do try to use ServerContext, Visual Studio will tell you to use ServiceContext instead.  If you do have SSP specific code, be sure and test it specifically during your upgrade process.

BTW, the start of this post was an obscure reference to another presentation on a completely unrelated topic.  I’ll be truly impressed if anyone gets it. :)

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