Microsoft Office 365 allows companies of all sizes to leverage the combined power of productivity tools such as Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office with the benefits of cloud computing. Instead of installing and deploying SharePoint Server on premises, any business can now simply subscribe to this service online to provide their employees with an enterprise grade solution for creating sites to safely share documents and information with colleagues, partners and customers. But integration of existing corporate data is still difficult to implement. Layer2, as one of the leading providers of SharePoint add-ons in Europe and Microsoft Gold Certified ISV, today announced a new version of its Cloud Connector to seamlessly integrate almost any local or cloud-based corporate data sources with native SharePoint Online lists and libraries in the Microsoft Office 365 cloud. The connector extends the outstanding SharePoint features to existing data sets that will continue to reside within the corporate network or in other clouds, e.g. SQL databases, file shares or line-of-business systems.
Office 365 requires a data integration strategy to benefit
While a cloud-based solution opens new opportunities to trim down infrastructure and the maintenance effort and costs, it doesn't eliminate the need for integration. A data-integration strategy needs to be within the foundation of every cloud computing plan. It can't be something you're reminded of at the rollout meeting.
Remote corporate data cached in native cloud-based SharePoint
Existing integration tools for SharePoint are often not made for cloud-based scenarios out-of-the-box. The Layer2 Cloud Connector was especially developed based on the new Microsoft Client Side Object Model (CSOM) API to solve the specific challenges of disconnected systems in the cloud without any direct access to corporate business data and very restricted feature customization capabilities. Users are just accessing native SharePoint lists and libraries as some kind of replicated cache for their remote corporate data– a simple but extremely powerful approach to provide all the outstanding features of lists and libraries for external data as well, e.g. flexible views, search, lookups, managed metadata, attachments, RSS and email-based notifications, or even workflows on external data change without any restrictions. The connector is based on years of experience with SharePoint data integration: The well-known Business Data List Connector - a similar Layer2 product for on-premise installations – since years has solved many issues that still exist with the Business Data Catalog and the Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2007 and 2010 for thousands of customers worldwide.
Almost any type of external data source is supported - codeless
The Cloud Connector comes with support for almost any existing enterprise data providers, e.g. ODBC, OLEDB, .NET, OData, files (Excel, XML, CSV), SQL databases like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, IBM DB2, IBM AS/400, IBM Informix, applications like Notes, Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory, Navision, SAP, file shares or XML-based web requests. Cloud-based data sources like e.g. SQL Azure, Microsoft CRM Online, Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter and Google are also supported. No programming is required. The connector is easily installed directly within the corporate network on any server or client with Internet connectivity. No setup or customizing is required in the SharePoint cloud. All SharePoint 2010 platforms are supported, including on-premise and hosted sandboxes.
Business opportunities for Office 365 resellers and service providers
With its cost-free Partner Program Layer2 offers all partners a license discount of 30%, valid leads in their region, free NFR software versions for internal use and full support for implementing Cloud Connector based solutions with their customers. The Cloud Connector for SharePoint and Office 365 is available after registration as a completely free Shareware version at the vendor’s website layer2.de/en/. Professional and Enterprise Editions of the connector are also offered with full set of features.
As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and ISV based in Hamburg (Germany), Layer2 (layer2.de) is one of the leading providers of Microsoft SharePoint extensions in Europe with a major focus on Data Integration, Collaborative Knowledge Management and Social Networking. Layer2 has also been known as a reliable partner to customers in Central Europe, offering additional consulting and services in the fields of SharePoint, .NET programming and IT infrastructure for more than 20 years.