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Windows Azure

Securing the Connection to SQL Azure (part 1) - Create an Application ID & Create an External Content Type

8/11/2011 4:10:31 PM
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In SharePoint 2010, the Secure Store Service (SSS) replaced the single sign-on (SSO) service that you may have used in SharePoint 2007. The SSS is a claims-aware authorization service that uses a secure database to store user credentials such as user names and passwords. These credentials are mapped to the secure database by using application IDs, which are then used as an authorization handshake with external data sources.

The application ID is important when trying to connect to SQL Azure because SQL Azure does not live within the same domain as your SharePoint server. Thus, you require a way to pass a separate set of credentials along to SQL Azure when connecting using BCS. You manage the SQL Azure credentials by first creating an application ID and then passing those credentials along to SQL Azure at the time of connection. The user is prompted upon first connecting to SQL Azure, which then allows you to interact with the SQL Azure database.

Let’s go ahead and walk through how you create an application ID.

1. Create an Application ID
  1. Open SharePoint Central Administration, and under Application Management, click Manage Service Applications.

  2. Under Secure Store Service, click the Secure Store Service link (this is the Secure Store Service Application proxy link). (If there is no Secure Store Service instance created, you need to create a new Secure Store Service instance. To do this, click New on the SharePoint ribbon and select Secure Store Service. Provide a name for the service, accept the default options, and then click OK.)

  3. After you’ve clicked the Secure Store Service link, click New, as illustrated in the following image.



  4. On the Target Application Settings page, provide a Target Application ID (for example, AzureSQLAppID), Display Name (SQL Azure App ID), and Contact E-mail (can be any email address), leave the other default options, and click Next.



  5. On the Add Field page of the wizard, add a descriptive name for the User Name and Password fields. Select User Name and Password in the Field Type lists. Select the Masked check box to mask the Password field.



  6. In the final step of the wizard, enter a valid Windows Active Directory alias to be the Target Application Administrator—this is required so that a valid user is associated with the application ID. Click OK when done to complete the creation of the application ID.



When you’ve completed the new application ID wizard, your new ID will appear in the application ID list.

With the application ID created, you’ll now want to create the external content type—which references the application ID to connect to SQL Azure.

2. Create an External Content Type
  1. Navigate to your SharePoint site.

  2. Click Site Actions, and then select Edit With SharePoint Designer.

  3. When SharePoint Designer opens, click External Content Types in the left navigation pane.



  4. On the SharePoint Designer ribbon, click External Content Type.

  5. Provide a Name and Display Name (for example, CustomerDataECT), set the Office Item Type to Contact, leave the default namespace, ensure that Offline Sync For External List is enabled, and then select the Click Here To Discover External Data Sources And Define Operations link.



  6. Click the Add Connection button to add the connection to your SQL Azure database.



  7. When prompted, enter the name of the SQL Azure server (for example, mydb.database.windows.net) and the database name (for example, Customers), and provide a display name for the external content type (for example, Customer Data from Azure).

  8. Before clicking OK, click Connect With Impersonated Identity, and enter the name of the application ID you created earlier (for example, AzureSQLAppID).



  9. Now click OK to connect to SQL Azure and move on to the next process of creating the external content type.

  10. When you are prompted for your SQL Azure credentials, enter the user name and password that was created when you first created the SQL Azure database.

  11. After authenticating with SQL Azure, SharePoint Designer will load the connection into your existing list of external content type connections, and the connection will display in the Data Source Explorer. Navigate down to the table level, right-click the CustomerData table you created earlier, and select Create All Operations.



  12. In the Operations wizard, you need to designate a primary key, so make sure the CustomerID is mapped to the Map To Identifier by first checking the CustomerID check box and then selecting the Map To Identifier check box. You also need to make sure the LastName field is mapped to the Last Name Office property, so click the LastName field and then select the Last Name option from the Office Property list. You can optionally map the other fields from the table to various properties in the Office Property list. Clear the Timestamp check box on the left because you will not expose this in the list. When complete, click Finish.



  13. Click the Save button on the main SharePoint Designer ribbon after you complete the wizard. This saves the new external content type to the BDC Metadata Store in SharePoint.

  14. With the external content type saved to SharePoint, you’ll now want to create a new list. To do this, click the Create Lists & Form button on the SharePoint Designer ribbon.

  15. Provide a List Name and List Description and accept the other default options, as shown in the following image.



    You can now navigate to your SharePoint site to load your new list. However, you may discover the following message when you try to load the new list. This is because you have not yet configured the newly created external content type with any permissions.



Now that you’ve created the ECT that connects SharePoint to SQL Azure, you must set the permissions for the ECT in SharePoint Central Administration. The permissions give you discrete control over which of your SharePoint users can access the external list. This is a secondary level of security by which you can separate the connection to your SQL Azure database (using the application ID) from the read/write permissions you assign to specific people in your organization against the ECT. So, for example, if you wanted to give five SharePoint users read-only access and two other users read/write access, you can do that using the Business Data Connectivity Service in SharePoint Central Administration.

In the next exercise, you’ll walk through the process of setting up permissions for the ECT by using the Business Data Connectivity Service in SharePoint.

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