I have been tasked with creating a report in SharePoint to display data compiled from multiple external databases. From my experience thus far it seems that a Visual Web Part is the way to go to easily format & manipulate data for display.

However, Are there any reasons I should consider trying to sync the outside data into SharePoint Lists v/s just pulling a displaying the data to the users?

I know my team is hesitant towards connecting to outside tables via BCS, so I likely would be using the client object model to do a daily data sync, if I decide to sync the data into SharePoint.

With this type of scenario would you recommend just pulling and displaying the data in a visual web part or would you try and synch the data into Sharepoint Lists?

The report should have < 300 items and be updated at least daily. There would likely be about 8 fields.


Use BCS!

BCS is not synching the data, its reading your data directly (there are some caching though) and it's very easy configurable using SharePoint Designer (w/o any coding).

  • I forgot to mention: The databases are SQL Server 2000. Isn't that not supported by BCS? – JR_ATLDev Jun 17 '11 at 14:19
  • That's correct. Then create a .NET Connector and use ADO.NET to read your data! – Wictor Wilen MCA MCM MVP Jun 17 '11 at 14:23
  • What advantages does BCS offer verses the Visual Web part? – JR_ATLDev Jun 17 '11 at 14:34
  • It allows you to use external lists, where users can sort, group etc. It makes the content searchable. Less development. It allows you to write back information. – Wictor Wilen MCA MCM MVP Jun 17 '11 at 14:37

If users strictly need to view the data, then I'd take advantage of SSRS if you have it in your environment or use the visual web part route if you don't. If users do need to manipulate the data, the BCS would work, or you could utilize data view web parts that allow for manipulating the data.

PerformancePoint could be another option if it's available to you based on your 2010 SKU.

  • I like this answer. Right tool for the right task. SSRS is best for reporting. If you do not need the data for other business needs, then do not add it to SharePoint. – websch01ar Jun 17 '11 at 15:02
  • Thanks, with all things Sharepoint, it depends ;-). I left out PerformancePoint as well which could be another option. – Eric Alexander Jun 17 '11 at 15:39

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