SharePoint Server Shared Services provide a centrally managed and centrally located set of feature-rich services that can be shared among multiple Web applications in a single farm (Intra-Farm Shared Services) and multiple farms (Inter-Farm Shared Services). A Shared Services Provider (SSP) is a specialized Web application that provides a single set of enterprise services such as search and audiences, thus enabling consistency across one or multiple SharePoint Server farms.
A well-thought-out SSP design and installation are critical before creating site collections. For example, an SSP can be associated with multiple Web applications, but a Web application can only be associated with a single SSP. For this reason, begin your SharePoint Server installation with a single SSP and let your business requirements force you to scale. Creating multiple SSPs creates complexity and increases the overall cost of maintaining your SharePoint implementation.
In SharePoint Server 2007, SSPs have been completely detached from the Portal. This arrangement increases the flexibility of services, such as Search, user profiles, and audiences. Shared Services are only provided with SharePoint Server and are not provided with Windows SharePoint Services. The Shared Services are as follows:
User Profiles and Properties
My Sites, including robust personalization capabilities
Search and Indexing
Excel Calculation Services
Business Data Catalog
This chapter focuses on creating and managing a single SSP. Multiple SSPs are covered in Chapter 13, "Scaling Out to a SharePoint Technologies Server Farm." Search and Indexing is a complex topic and therefore is covered in depth in its own chapter, Chapter 12, "Configuring SharePoint Server Search and Indexing." My Sites are considered personal portals and are covered in Chapter 9, "Configuring SharePoint Server Portals."