What are service applications?
SharePoint Server 2010, the latest version so far, offers an array of services that are used across several Web applications. Termed as service applications, some of these can even be shared within farms. With service applications being shared across various Web apps and farms, the requirement of resources to provide services across several sites also reduces.
Below mentioned are the service applications included with SharePoint 2010 Products:
- Access Services
- Business Data Connectivity service
- Excel Services Application
- Managed Metadata service
- PerformancePoint Service Application
- Search service
- Secure Store Service
- State service
- Usage and Health Data Collection service
- User Profile service
- Visio Graphics Service
- Web Analytics service
- Word Automation Services
- Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Subscription Settings Service
There are some service applications that are offered by Microsoft products. One such example is described below:
Office Web Application services:
- MS Word Viewing Service
- MS PowerPoint Service
- MS Excel Calculation Services
With these services, users are able to open Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents in any browser across several platforms. These software applications provide editing, as well as lightweight creation opportunities in standard format.
Enhanced infrastructure and design principles
SharePoint 2010 comes with various improvisations, including a better services infrastructure. Some of the offerings in 2010 version include:
- Flexibility in the setup of service offerings
- Independent configuration possibility for individual services
- Service addition to platform by third-part service providers
While this text talks about the improvements in SharePoint 2010, professionals need to undergo official SharePoint training in order to obtain professional expertise in this area. There are various IT training institutes now-a-days that provide expert guidance for the same.
Let’s now get acquainted to ‘Deploying services‘
Users can deploy service apps within farms by one of the below techniques:
- Selecting services while the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard is being run
- Addition of services one by one to the Manage Service Applications page in the Central Administration site
- Usage of Windows PowerShell
Robust service configuration
The new services infrastructure gives users increased control for how application sharing happens, and which service is deployed. Below mentioned are few thumb rules you should be aware of:
- Only service applications required to a farm can be deployed.
- Web application configuration can be done only for the required service applications. It cannot be done for all deployed services.
- Multiple instances for the same service can be deployed. You can then assign exclusive names for the newly formed service applications.
- In the same farm, service applications can be shared across several Web applications
- While creating Web applications, users can select service applications of their own choice. These can also be changed later.
Service application groups
As a default rule, all the service applications get included in a default group. This remains the same till you make changes to the settings for the service application while it was created. Users can add, as well as delete service applications from default groups whenever they want.
While creating Web applications, one can choose default groups or create custom groups for service applications. Custom groups are created by only adding the service applications, which you want should be used by the Web application.
There is a default behavior with service applications that can’t be changed. You can deploy service applications within one IIS, i.e. Internet Information Services website. Users can however customize the following:
- Service application group configuration
- Web application association with service application groups
Listed below are some characteristics of the farm:
- A single IIS website consists of all the service apps.
- Service applications have two groups, i.e. custom and default. It is also not necessary that all service apps are included in the default group.
- Web apps either associate with custom group or default group of service apps.
- In order to attain process isolation, users can deploy service apps to various application pools. However it is suggested that users deploy service apps to one app pool for optimizing performance of farms.
- For achieving physical isolation for service applications, users should select or design a different app pool for service apps.
Service application association
An association for the service application is created at the time of creating the service applications. Talking about association / connection, it is a virtual unit that connects service apps to Web applications. These associations are termed as ‘proxies’ in Windows PowerShell. Some of the connections may also consist of settings that can be changed.
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Service application administration
Instead of a separate administration site, service apps are administered in the Central Administration. If required, service apps can be managed and monitored remotely. These can also be administered and scripted by using Windows PowerShell.
Deploying service applications across farms
There are some service apps that can be shared across server farms, and others that can only be shared within a single server farm.
Service application that can be shared across farms include Managed Metadata, Business Data Connectivity, Secure Store Service, Web Analytics and User Profile. Service apps that can be shared within a single farm include State Service, Project Server, Usage and Health Data Connection, Visio Graphics Service, PowerPoint Service, Word Viewing Service, Word Automation Service, Access Services and Excel Services.
While sharing service apps, following should be kept in mind:
- Service apps that are shared across farms, can be run in a common farm and consumed from other farms.
- Web apps can be setup to use service apps from various farms.
- In order to reduce management overhead, computing-intensive service apps can be operated in a central farm. This also increases efficiency and proves beneficial when the requirements grow.
There are a few cross-farm service apps that should not be used in WAN, i.e. wide area network environment.
Service apps like Managed Metadata and Search can be used in WAN. However Secure Store Service and Web Analytics are recommended to not be used in such environment. User Profile service application is not supported in WAN environment.
Talking about the usage of Business Data Connectivity in WAN depends on the kind of environment. Once the data cache is populated, there is no need of the WAN link. Page brewing is slower initially, and may result in timeouts. However consequent requests for cached data are responded to faster.