Freshly back from the SharePoint conference in Vegas, I was slightly overwhelmed with the new content come from the product team. While there’s much of 2010 that remained fundamentally the same from 2007, there are also a lot of new concepts. Of particular interest to me and a number of my clients is the new Service Application architecture.
In the “old days” of SharePoint 2007, you had Shared Services Providers (SSP). SSPs contained a number of common “services” that were used by Office SharePoint Server (not WSS), like profile import, search and the business data catalog. It was an interesting concept at the time and got hyped initially, but most SharePoint farms ended up with simple implementations.
In the 2010 timeframe, SSPs go away and you now have Service Applications and Proxy Groups. Service applications are the atomic equivalent of individual services within the historical SSP. For example, there’s a profile service application as well as one for search. In addition, there are Service Applications for other new functions like metadata management, word services and access services. Each service application stands on its own, has its own database and can be deployed separately across one or more servers (load balancing for service applications is built in for scalability).
If you’re interested in getting a bit deeper, take a look at Spencer Harbar’s blog post: SharePoint 2010: Service Applications Part One: Model Overview. You can also refer to the new Technet content on 2010; here’s a page on how SharePoint 2010 works.