Event ID: 8085 – Business Data Connectivity Service Application is not accessible

Hey all, it has been a while since I last blogged about something. I’ve been pretty busy lately. Most of us, SharePoint guys and gals, are I think. Fun stuff though. I visited my family in Lebanon this summer. It has been since 2004 last time I saw them. It was good. I really enjoyed it. I’ve been also trying to find my niche in the next version of SharePoint (2013=15=v5) and I think I did Smile.

Anyways, today was a good reminder for me that everyday in the World of SharePoint is a new day. Be a student. Stay a student. Most of us by now have been touched by the STS and its magnificent powers in SharePoint. All cool with it, until I tried to configure my BDC Service Application.

The Story

Few days ago, I uninstalled SharePoint Server 2010 Standard from my Windows 7 machine and installed Foundation 2010 using Single/Standalone mode. I love Foundation. Lean. Mean. Powerful machine. Next task for me was to go ahead and configure my BDC service application. I created the service app and the proxy. Now, when I went to click on the Manage button in the Ribbon (see figure below) I ran into a nasty error. I’m going OK, I’ve seen this before, but I can’t remember. It’s not like this is my first time configuring the BDC, but hey, an old man like myself, yeah, I tend to forget things. Anyways, I couldn’t remember the solution. So I started digging…

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The Digging

So I looked into many places, I opened the ULS Viewer, I got my Windows Event Log up, Fiddler is happy, SharePoint 2010 Management Shell is all cute, I am BINGING the deal (432,000,000 results), I got some green tea (I thought this would help digest this) … anyways, moving on.

 The Errors

At the end of the day, I thought, I have to write this down. What I found were these five consecutive error messages. Nothing you’ve never seen before. It’s more like I needed to get a blog post out soon before the end of the world Smile

#1

An exception occurred when trying to issue security token: An error occurred while receiving the HTTP response to http://localhost:32843/SecurityTokenServiceApplication/securitytoken.svc/actas. This could be due to the service endpoint binding not using the HTTP protocol. This could also be due to an HTTP request context being aborted by the server (possibly due to the service shutting down). See server logs for more details..

#2

An exception occurred when trying to issue security token: An error occurred while receiving the HTTP response to http://localhost:32843/SecurityTokenServiceApplication/securitytoken.svc/actas. This could be due to the service endpoint binding not using the HTTP protocol. This could also be due to an HTTP request context being aborted by the server (possibly due to the service shutting down). See server logs for more details..

#3

The BDC Service application Business Data Connectivity Service Application is not accessible. The full exception text is: An error occurred while receiving the HTTP response to http://localhost:32843/SecurityTokenServiceApplication/securitytoken.svc/actas. This could be due to the service endpoint binding not using the HTTP protocol. This could also be due to an HTTP request context being aborted by the server (possibly due to the service shutting down). See server logs for more details.

#4

An exception occurred when trying to issue security token: An error occurred while receiving the HTTP response to http://localhost:32843/SecurityTokenServiceApplication/securitytoken.svc. This could be due to the service endpoint binding not using the HTTP protocol. This could also be due to an HTTP request context being aborted by the server (possibly due to the service shutting down). See server logs for more details..

#5

The SharePoint Health Analyzer detected a condition requiring your attention.  The Security Token Service is not available.
The Security Token Service is not issuing tokens. The service could be malfunctioning or in a bad state.
Administrator should try to restart the Security Token Service on the boxes where it is not issuing tokens. If problem persists, further troubleshooting may be available in the KB article. For more information about this rule, see “http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=160531”.

The Troubleshooting

Well, I figured I’d look into few things. Firewall, IIS, STS Web.Config file and checkout the bindings, the Application Pool identity, .NET version, WCF fix, SSL certificates, ACLs, I don’t remember touching any of this. This should work I thought. Should I be on the domain? Should I VPN in and try it again? May be the SSL cert required for the STS is corrupt. I don’t know. I don’t remember. So I moved on to BING and boom boom pow.

The Answer

KB Article 249352 – http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2493524

Everything checked out except for the unexpected; The authentication methods that were allowed on the SecureTokenServiceApplication IIS web application were not correct. I don’t remember touching those. How the heck did they change? I learned something or should I say re-learned something; “The authentication settings page should only have Windows and Anonymous access enable for the security token service to issue tokens properly (and for claims authentication to work properly)”, the KB article says Smile

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I was too tired to go after this and figure out the “why” and “what” behind all of this. I made the changes recommended by the article and I was done. I made sure all authentication methods except for Anonymous and Windows are Disabled. See figure below.

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At the end, problem is solved and I can move on.

Take it easy,

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Posted in SharePoint Administration

Are you still doing SharePoint?

A good friend of mine once said, don’t ever follow a product, always follow the platform. This observation still reminds me today of what I need to think about and prepare for every single year. It makes me think and strategize.

So let’s expand on the concept of this platform thing. The platform on which SharePoint resides represents a lot of technologies. To plan for, deploy and implement a successful SharePoint solution across the enterprise, you got to have expertise in the following areas:

  • IIS
  • ASP.NET
  • Web Services (ASMX, WCF)
  • SQL Server
  • Active Directory
  • Firewalls
  • DNS
  • Load balancing
  • Certificates and Encryption
  • Authentication protocols
  • Security and Protection
  • The Windows Server System
  • Microsoft Office
  • Globalization and Localization
  • Virtualization
  • Monitoring and Management
  • …. we can stop here. This is enough. You get the point

Nothing new here. There is just so much to think about. Most of the stuff listed above have changed immensely. Do you think you can keep up? May be.

As you see, SharePoint touches everything around us. It delivered on its vision. Kudos to Microsoft ® SharePoint is serving us all very well. We’re living comfortably. Put SharePoint on your resume and you’re hot.

So what’s next? Well, from my perspective, I’ve seen SharePoint grow over 4 versions and I think it is time to focus in on key feature sets and not to get consumed with all of it anymore. Focus more on the underlying infrastructure and less on the fancy new stuff. Got to find a new niche.

There is still lots to do on SharePoint from a front end perspective. Don’t take me wrong. We’ll be busy for another round or two. But, like this good old saying from one of my favorite poets, Al-Mutanabbi 

“If you see the teeth of the lion, do not think that the lion is smiling at you” [Quote taken from Wikipedia® on January 31th 2012]

SharePoint is smiling. Come on in it says. Lots of people are doing it now and you should too. If you hear this voice, it is time to get out my friend. “Stay thirsty, my friends” like those Dos Equis commercial says Smile

So what is it for you? What are you thinking about? What’s your focus this year?

Take it easy.

Posted in SharePointology

To the SharePoint® Conference we go

The SharePoint® Conference 2011 in Anaheim, California marks my third major SharePoint® conference I’ve attended over the years. It is very exciting to see how the product has progressed over these years and how Microsoft® stood behind it to get it to where it is today. With over a 100 million licenses sold, it is truly an amazing story.

And here we go again, around the circle we travel. We travel with partners, clients, colleagues, x-coworkers, and friends. We bring excitement wherever we go. We boost the economy and overload the inter-webs with social and blogging traffic. I heard that Microsoft® is expecting over seven thousand in attendance this year. That’s pretty cool.

As far as sessions, there are plenty of everything. I am personally looking forward to attending Cloud and Office 365 related sessions. I am going to focus in on the 400’s and 300’s level sessions this year with few 200’s here and there.

Sessions that I will attend include the following:

Title Speaker #
Out of the Sandbox and into the cloud: Build your next SharePoint… Andrew Connell SPC410
How Microsoft Builds, Deploys and Runs SharePoint Online: A Peek … Roberto Taboada, Doron Bar-Caspi SPC352
Deep Dive on Developing Custom Service Applications Todd Bleeker SPC401
Advanced SharePoint Data Access with Silverlight Robert German, Ryan Sockalosky SPC400
Identity in SharePoint Online Phil Wicklund SPC259
SharePoint, Azure and Claims Integration for Developers Steve Peschka, James Petrosky SPC412
Deep Dive: Implementing Kerberos for your BI Applications Tom Wisnowski SPC404
Building Business Applications on Azure using Office365 and Windows … Tony Meleg, Jesus Rodriguez SPC320
Cloud Packing: Preparing for the Move into SharePoint Online James Petrosky, Kimmo Forss SPC327
Branding SharePoint Online Sites Randy Drisgill, John Ross SPC205
Exploring the Office Developer Story in Microsoft Office 365 Tanuj Bansal, Devinder Singh SPC346

Now, last time, Microsoft® did setup a purchasing system where you could buy the conference material if you didn’t get to attend it. I would think they’ll have something like that again this year.

References

Till next time, stay thirsty my friends.

Posted in Conferences | Tagged

To The Cloud, a brief look at Cloud-related matters

What do you want to know about the Cloud? Lots to read and learn, and lots more to experience. If you are not lost in the clouds about the Cloud, you haven’t been around lately. It is crazy out there. It is the new hype and you need to get on the bus. It’s actually a Ferrari and its going fast. Gartner says by 2012, one out of five businesses will own no IT assets; that’s 20% people. Few of us are already late and need to catch up, while others have been taking a nap from traveling too much up and down the cloudy highway.

Cloud-related services are offered today by a slew of known and reputable companies, such as: Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Novell, IBM, VMware, and Oracle.  Take a look and see for yourself what each of these companies are offering. Few questions come to mind when trying to decide which is better than which

  • What kinds of guarantees do each offer?
  • What types of Cloud computing power do they offer in terms of performance, scalability, availability and reliability?
  • What options do you have in regards to migration?
  • Can you mix and match and coexist?
  • How about administration and methods and processes used to operationalize your Cloud service?
  • What type of software and applications can you host or serve from the Cloud?
  • Licensing and plans? How much and how often?
  • Upgrade plans?
  • Support plans?
  • And how about data and ability to synchronize back and forth?

The Trend

Well, how much of this Cloud thing is the real deal and how much of it is fake? I don’t know much, but I know one thing from being around for 11 years. We tend to centralize, then decentralize, then centralize again, then decentralize again, … well, you catch my drift. This time around, it is centralization PLUS here’s all the hardware, we don’t need it anymore. We’ve got Microsoft’s triple nines guarantee. And not just that, we get paid back for lost time. Dude this is amazing. Things are changing. IT needs to wake up and the Business needs to start thinking about the ways they’ve done business.

Pains and Gains

There are pains and there are gains in moving to the Cloud. It’s all over the internet. No more keeping an inventory of hardware, switches and disk drives. No more blaming own IT staff for not performing their duties and pointing fingers at each other. No more slacking off and sitting around on Tuesdays because servers were patched last night and they seem to be sluggish. More and more reasons are coming out everyday. Is this good for IT? Is it good for the Business? Well, it is good for the people who are actually committed to do good and get better results. We can create our own reasons, but guess what, the business will continue to grow and move fast to catch up with the competition and IT, well… is trying to keep up. Will IT still be considered a cost center? not really. I think for an organization that is committed to moving to the Cloud, the bottle neck will probably become Development teams as they try to ramp up on Cloud technologies and migrate their applications to Azure, Office 365 and other non-Microsoft cloud offerings. Good times.

Final thoughts

Finally, I will end with this note. The Cloud is a big thing. It has been for a while now. Forget about the fancy terms, such as: PaaS, SaaS, IaaS, any Cloud service is probably good for you Smile. My recommendation is for you as an organization to focus in and look at this as an opportunity to refine your IT and Business processes for better results and eliminate redundancy and rework that’s been costing you loads of money over the years.

Take it easy.

Posted in To The Cloud

Remember The Name

This is not a blog post on Fort Minor’s Remember The Name song even though I like the song itself and I think it says a lot about our alter-ego along with a bunch of other stuff.

This post is about remembering individuals, who during our lifetime, have inspired us. It’s about people, a person, a manager, a supervisor, a friend, an enemy, a foe, mom or dad, brother or sister, anyone with a name that at one point in time sparked a fire inside of you. It’s about that moment when you discovered something amazing because of someone else’s helping hands. It’s about everything you’ve learned so far. It’s about who you are today and what you have become .

Remembering individuals who’ve helped me become who I am today is something I am very proud of. There is no day that goes by without thinking about them. This past weekend, I and my son Sammy traveled to Kansas to see a Nascar race. During our time there, we talked about my work, what I do and how I got here. I shared with Sammy and our relatives, who we were with, my story; about how I left Lebanon and traveled alone to the States seeking opportunity and success. I shared with them the many times I needed help and how there was always someone there to help me, guide me and direct me. I went on to emphasize the fact that people around us, the environment, events and circumstances have a very deep effect on our experience, knowledge, and intelligence. This is not a new concept here. We all know that, I hope. Yes, we are born with certain traits and yes those traits are adjusted during our growing period, and yes we can make our own choices, but guess what, you make a choice because of an event or because of some action someone else took. What I am trying to get to is simple: For every action, there is a reaction. There is no invention without a need. A bad answer may inspire a good one. Good can come out of bad and bad can come out of good. Without the first, there is no latter. We owe our knowledge to others who’ve done the work and spent the time discovering and documenting.

As technologists, developers, and IT Pros, how many times we go online everyday looking for answers? It has become a routine thing for most of us. More and more we are relying on others and their knowledge to do our jobs. Remember those blog post authors, those TechNet and MSDN writers, and those books you read. All of these resources and people are making an impact on you and me. Let’s try to remember them. I love it when I hear someone hints that they know it all or write on their resume that they’re super advanced and experts in a certain area. Really? well, let’s cut out the internet and uninstall the help libraries from your computer, take away all the books you have, give you a problem you never seen or heard of before in a domain you never worked in and let’s see how you do. About 97% of us will fail miserably. The rest are geniuses. Hire them.

In summary, don’t take anything for granted. Always be grateful and always stay grateful. Be a student and remember the names of people who made a difference in your life and career.

Take it easy.

Posted in Life Experiences

Imagine a World without Attachments

Imagine for a second a world without any email attachments. Got to thinking yesterday about this whole thing we call email and how SharePoint plays a major role today inside of organizations trying to get rid of email attachments.

I was thinking of the “why” behind email attachments. What was the main reason behind having such a feature?

  • Was it simply to let be?
  • Was it to allow people who are trying to communicate over a network to have the ability to share notes and documents they’re working on?
  • Was it to get information stored in various forms over to the other side quickly?
  • Was storage cheap back then?
  • Was it laziness with no one caring about the implications of adding a feature like this?
  • Was it that we all need context and that for me to understand what you’re really saying, I need to look at a screen shot?
  • Was it I just don’t have the time to visit in person and sign your letter of intent, so just fax me it or you know what just send it to me in an attachment, I’ll sign it, scan it, and send it back the same way
  • Was it to let developers share code
  • I don’t know….

Email servers, in their simplest form, should be able to allow the transfer of email messages back and forth from client to client. That’s it. Email messages. Electronic mail. Mail should be only text. So where did we add this attachment thing? When did it come along? I’m still looking for the actual set of requirements that I may never find.

Challenges

Yes. With every new feature a new set of problems get introduced. We solve something and we bring something else to life. Some of the issues we encounter when it comes to dealing with and managing email attachments are:

  • Attachment size and limits on the client and server side
  • Virus and scanning for virus introduced by attachments
  • Various File Formats and Rich content that may introduce a viewing or rendering issues
  • Email client limitations
  • Storage and retrieval
  • Retention and auditing issues
  • Information management
  • Not all recipients of an email message with attachments need those attachments
  • More… believe me

How can Exchange and SharePoint help

As an organization, think about email and how your users use it. Think about what information is contained in email messages that may help you make better decisions. There could be very important key information contained in email messages and attachments that you may like to track, organize and categorize.

Think about the unstructured and try to make it structured.

So, given the above challenges and assumed requirements, how can we use what’s at our disposal from a technology perspective to help mitigate and automate the communication and processes that surround email attachments.

Enter, Exchange Managed Folders and SharePoint Content and Document Management features.

My ultimate goal is to have the following:

  1. 1. No more attachments in email messages
  2. 2. Extract attachments and send them over to SharePoint with some metadata
  3. 3. Users behind the firewall utilize SharePoint for content and document management
  4. 4. Partners and Clients outside of the firewall utilize project workspaces and extranet sites for collaboration and communication
  5. 5. Integrate the Outlook, Exchange, SharePoint, and the file system experience

Let’s paint the picture of a perfect world.

Let’s talk scenarios. Here are few scenarios along with their respective alternatives.

Scenario Alternative
Developer to Developer sending a piece of code hidden inside of a zip file renamed to TXT file extension Some mail servers and filtering agents are smart enough to know what’s going on. But in a perfect world, let’s think about an alternative here.1. Use Code repositories
Sharing a Sales presentation with a prospective client 2. View / Publish presentation so you can view it inside of a browser from anywhere
Communicating with an external project team member 1. Use externally facing project workspace
Internal employees collaborating on a project 1. Use project workspaces
Human Resources department communicating to employees about Policy changes 1. Use department workspace

Technically speaking, the following set of technologies may be deployed to meet and enhance the user experience when managing email and attachments.

Technology / Platform Features
Exchange 2010 Managed Folders
Inbox Rules
Forward Mailboxes / Email Forwarding
SharePoint 2010 SMTP Server
Incoming Email
SharePoint Directory Management Service
Content Organizer
In-Place Records Managements
Managed Metadata
Advanced Routing
Digital Asset Management
PowerPoint 2010 Broadcast
Office Web Applications
Workflows
Alerts
Announcements
SharePoint Workspace 2010 Offline Content
Team/Partner collaboration

Given time, I am hoping to follow up with additional posts that will dig into some of the features I listed above and how we would actually use them. Meanwhile, take a look at the following references to get you started.

Reference Topic Link
Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2010 SP1 Understanding Managed Folders
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee364744.aspxMessaging Records Management
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123507.aspx

Mail Forwarding
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd351134.aspx

SharePoint 2010 Plan Incoming Email
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263260.aspxPlan for SharePoint Workspace 2010
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee649106.aspx

What’s New in ECM
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee559353.aspx

Office Web Applications
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff431687.aspx

Configure Broadcast site
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee837423.aspx

Plan Digital Asset Libraries
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee414275.aspx

Take it easy.

Posted in Enterprise Content Management

Prevent your Contributors from adding Scriptable Web Parts in SharePoint 2010

We all heard of the Content Editor Web Part and how SharePoint users can take advantage of it. You’ll find blog entries here and there talking about the God-given powers of the editor web part and how in few lines of JavaScript code, or may I say JQuery code, you may do this and do that. Everyone gets excited about this, and you know why? It’s simple, by pass the IT conglomerate and be free.

Enter, a new feature of lock down power in SharePoint 2010; Allow or Prevent Contributors from adding or editing scriptable web parts.

From a first glance at this, I figured right away that the dudes at Microsoft are talking nicely about the Content Editor Web Part. Later I figured that they’re also referring to the HTML Form Web Part.

So how can you do this.

Here are few pre-requisites.

1. You will need access to SharePoint 2010 Central Administration. You got to be the Farm Administrator

2. The users you are targeting will need to be members of the default Members SharePoint Group or a group with similar Permission Levels. Having additional Site Level permissions, like Add and Customize Pages will not be good and will override what I’m trying to communicate here rendering this blog post useless.

Here’s an example user I created locally on my machine.

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Here’s a custom permission level created via a Copy of the Contributor permission level. See links and references below for more information on how to do this.

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Here’s the user added to my custom Contributor group.

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Default Web Application Settings

The default setting offered by SharePoint for scriptable web parts is to “Allow contributors to add or edit scriptable Web Parts”.

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Prevent Contributors from adding scriptable web parts

Now, on to preventing users from adding scriptable web parts, such as: Content Editor Web Part. Here’s how to do it. You guessed it.

1. Access the Web Application List page

2. Select the Web Application you wish to modify the Web Part Security settings for

3. From the Security Ribbon Action Group menu (or whatever you call it), select Web Part Security

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4. Scroll to the end of the page and select the radio button choice to “Prevent contributors from adding … “

5. And you’ve got it. Now, if a contributor is trying to add let’s say the Content Editor Web Part to his/her page, this windows browser dialog will appear. Click Add

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The above message also appears to users trying to add the HTML Form Web Part.

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Finally

Here are few resources you may find helpful.

Resource Link
Content Editor Web Part http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/using-the-content-editor-web-part-HA101794745.aspx
HTML Form Web Part http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/use-the-html-form-web-part-to-filter-and-display-data-in-another-web-part-HA101791813.aspx
Copy Existing Permission Level http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263239.aspx#section2

Take it easy.

Posted in SharePoint Administration