What is a Shared Service Provider?

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about a bit of overview. In MOSS 2007 there is this new concept of Shared Services Providers(SSP). The idea being that there are certain services that really make sense to centrally manage and share. A good example being profiles. With a SSP we can import all of the profile information from AD once and then our various web applications can consume the data. So maybe we have http://marketing and http://accounting it doesn’t make sense for each one to maintain identical profile information, they should share.

The major services that are handled by the SSP are:

  • Profiles and Audiences
  • My Sites
  • Search
  • All of Excel Services
  • All of the BDC (Business Data Catalog)

Below is an example screen shot from MOSS 2007 Enterprise:

Sometimes the easiest way to think of Shared Services is the Parent vs. Child relationship. The Parent (your SSP) goes out and does all of the work (pulling BDC data, indexing content, hosting My Sites) and the child (your web applications) come to the parents to ask for $5 (request data from the BDC, or view a calculated Excel sheet). Does that help?

Multiple SSPs

One of the most overwhelming things about SSPs for some people planning is how many should I have? It is easy to see from the interface that you are given the opportunity to create more than one. When should you do this?

As a general rule of thumb most companies will use one SSP. This is my default answer. So why do they give you the ability to run multiple SSPs? There are cases where you want separate search or profiles. The most common? Extranet/internet scenarios. Maybe your SharePoint farm hosts two primary web applications. http://portal for your intranet and http://ourcustomers for your extranet. In this scenario you probably want separate search and profiles. And now you have found the reason to have multiple SSPs. You don’t want to share information you want unique information for both.

Another advantage of SSPs

Separation of roles. In some medium and large environments it is not uncommon to have one group administering the physical server farm while another group needs to just maintain search. Well the SSP concept makes this very easy. Since the SSP is its own SharePoint site collection you can define a users access so they can NOT access central administration but they CAN access the SSP. And once they get into the SSP you can even limit them. Once inside the SSP you can determine if they can:

  • Manage user profiles
  • Manage audiences
  • Manage permissions
  • Manage usage analytics

Best I can tell if you give them access to the SSP all of the other SSP functions they will have rights to. Guess it needs more testing.

Still this separation of services from the actual administration of the server can be quite useful. Epically in companies where the less access I give a user the better.

Moral of the story

SSPs are very helpful and important to understand. They should be part of your initial planning. They can be secured at a very granular level or they can be give broad access. Just mark this topic down as something else you need to full think through before you start rolling out SharePoint. And when all else fails just have one SSP.


Shane โ€“SharePoint Help

100 Comments so far

  1.   Dhanesh Garud on July 9th, 2007          Reply

    This was most helpful, short and sweet article I ever found about SSP. Reading this article, I am enlightened as this is the only thing I was struggling about in sharepoint.



  2.   suresh on July 22nd, 2007          Reply

    its really a valuable article on ssp..

  3.   Poornima on July 24th, 2007          Reply

    This is what I had been looking for. Thank you!

  4.   Bitwise on August 22nd, 2007          Reply

    Excellent, thank you very much.

  5.   jiang on August 27th, 2007          Reply

    Thanks for your explaining, so clear, thank you very much.

  6.   bubblez on August 30th, 2007          Reply

    thanks, was very helpfull and clear!

  7.   Shival Khanna on September 11th, 2007          Reply

    Well this article gives a very brief yet important information about SSPs. I want to know one more thing is that what are all thos jobs performed by the ssps .
    Thanks in advance ….


  8.   Nada Nuff on September 26th, 2007          Reply

    By chance do you have a comprehensive set of instructions that demonstrate how to create an SSP?
    With what M$ has on their site, it’s rather difficult to follow every bloody link that drags you away from the main instructions on how to do something.

  9.   Barkingdog on October 2nd, 2007          Reply

    Consider you example “With a SSP we can import all of the profile information from AD once and then our various web applications can consume the data. ”

    The question still remains why an SSP is needed as each application could call AD itself. Are you saying that the SSP is like a wrapper around existing profiles providing AD info so other apps do not need to know the internal of calling AD? (If that is so, it seems that SSP is a bundled webservice.)

  10.   Shane Young on October 2nd, 2007          Reply

    Not really a wrapper. The SSP imports the profile properties from AD and maps to the appropriate SharePoint Property. Then is places that information in a database. Now when another site request the information it comes out of that database instead of calling AD and making all the connections.

  11.   Freddy on October 9th, 2007          Reply

    Wow, the parent-child example made it all clear to me. I will use it in class.


  12.   Paul on October 11th, 2007          Reply

    Great summary. If one were so inclined to offer shared MOSS hosting – or was afforded the opportunity to host three corporations across the same hardware; SSP (one per company – at a minimum) should be the cornerstone of the system planning and overall configuration?

    Okay – any tips for hosting sharepoint for multiple clients(other than dedicated servers)? Using the NOPS-capaciity planning; a basic two server farm can host a few dozen companies…. anything else seems like a waste of (virtual) hardware.

  13.   Shane on October 18th, 2007          Reply

    I do agree if I had 2 companies sites hosted on the box each would have its own SSP. Got to keep them away from each other. Also, you can host the ssp at http://theirurl/ssp/admin and not have to setup lots of extra things so they can get to the admin pages.

  14.   Prashanth on November 25th, 2007          Reply

    Very nice article. Simple but elegant

  15.   ibrahim basha on November 28th, 2007          Reply

    This is very helpful for me thank u

  16.   ibrajhim basha on November 28th, 2007          Reply

    Iam getting a problem in excel service.the excel spread sheet file is not opening in webbrowser.it is saying that “error occured contact administrator”.please help about this

  17.   aju on December 3rd, 2007          Reply

    fruitful info about ssp.i had stucked in trying till i’m die to connects MOSS to AD using ADO. if i had cover this article earlier, i won’t waste my 2 weeks trying to connect MOSS to AD..DAMMIT!!!

  18.   mswin on January 2nd, 2008          Reply

    I am planning to create multiple SSPs on same MOSS server. One for extranet search and one for intranet search.
    So while configuring the search service, do we need to choose different location for index files.

    What are the things that needs to be taken care in this scenario.

    Thanks in Advance.

  19.   Alana on January 6th, 2008          Reply


    Thanks so much for this article – I’m studying for my first microsoft exam and was really confused about SSPs until I read this.


  20.   Gunjan Mehta on January 30th, 2008          Reply


    Excellent article i could ever find on SSP. This have given me the clear picture of important role of SSP in sharepoint.

  21.   Rich Finn on February 13th, 2008          Reply

    Hi Shane,

    I’m helping design an architecture for MOSS which will host multiple clients in a single farm similar to one of the commentors on this post. Seperating the SSP aside, which is a given, I want to check myself on other stuff I should be thinking about when it comes to potential cross-client visibilities of independent custom solutions, primarily items deployed into the file system on the WFEs such as Features and defintions. Is there anything you can think of which could show up and bite me? Can’t have one client seeing another…


  22.   Shane on February 14th, 2008          Reply

    I would need a lot more details to help you Rich. Feel free to drop me an email.

  23.   Scott on March 3rd, 2008          Reply

    I have a question as to whether or not use 2 ssp’s. We are creating an intranet that will keep a lot of semi-confidential information. We will also be creating a Client portal for reviewing information. It would be nice to share some information between the 2 sites however we do not want any chance of them viewing information that is on the intranet. Should I create separate SSP’s or could this be easily accomplished with one?

  24.   Ricky Singh on April 9th, 2008          Reply

    Got an idea what SSP is but it would had been even better if you have shown or given some links how to create a Service…..

  25.   Shay on April 16th, 2008          Reply

    Great explanation! What are the pro’s and con’s of having the SSP on the same web app (ie Default Web Site or SharePoint – 80)? I would like to create the SSP on it’s own webapp but not sure if that would break anything. Thanks

  26.   San on May 15th, 2008          Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you for the nice short article.

  27.   seshu on May 26th, 2008          Reply

    ya its very good.

  28.   Ravi Kumar on June 2nd, 2008          Reply

    Superb post.. Your example is Awesome.
    Thank you

  29.   Karthi on July 8th, 2008          Reply

    Gud one.This article explained about SSP clearly.

  30.   bharath on July 18th, 2008          Reply

    This detail explains SSP usage in clear and simple terms thanks a lot. But could you tell me whether the user account given in “SSP Service Credentials” should be a user whose password is marked as “never expires” ?

  31.   Mohammed on July 21st, 2008          Reply

    Artice was very helpful.


  32.   ankur on August 7th, 2008          Reply

    can we install moss without SSP in a system?
    what does it mean that MOSS is present but no sharepoint?
    please reply facing lot of confusion due to this

  33.   Satish on October 3rd, 2008          Reply

    Excellent Article, but I was going through few of the comments, most of them are unaswered. So I had doubt to use SSP or not in sharepoint.

  34.   raj on October 5th, 2008          Reply

    Hie this article about SSP is very good and knowledgable. Here i have one important question.
    Can anyone tell me that Why MicroSoft has not included SSP as one of the tabs among Central Administration like Home,Operations and Application Management?
    Please let me know if you guys have any idea?

  35.   rahul on October 5th, 2008          Reply

    please help me. i have a question. why do you think that Microsoft has created SSP as a separate tab and did not include it in Central Administration under Home, Operations and Application Management tabs?

  36.   Rose on October 7th, 2008          Reply


    I’m using MOSS 2007. I have to create a dashboard page which pulls data from a custom list. Below is my custom list and dashboard format. Tasks under each category should be displayed in coloured balls in the specified month.(New -> green ball, In Progress -> Yellow ball, Completed-> Red ball). I have to show the dashboard for the whole year even though there are no tasks for some months.

    For example,
    If i have four categories(cat1, cat2, cat3, cat 4) and there are many tasks under each category. Each task has a start date and an end date. Now in my dashboard, i need to have the first column as categories and the months say, October, November, December as the other columns. Tasks under each category should be displayed in coloured balls in the specified month according to their status(New -> green ball, In Progress -> Yellow ball, Completed-> Red ball).

    Please let me know if this is possible. Kindly help.


  37.   Yeakay on December 16th, 2008          Reply

    Thanks a lot for an excellent article. I was stuggling to understand what an SSP was. Your explanantion was crisp and good.

  38.   Walter Mena on February 23rd, 2009          Reply

    Excellent! for sure you just gave a good idea for this. I have been using MOSS for three months and now I know what I have been doing… hahaha

  39.   Mohammad Pasha on March 27th, 2009          Reply

    As a beginner, I understood perfectly.

    Thank you so much.

  40.   Krishna Prasad on April 1st, 2009          Reply

    Excellent Explanation about SSP,thanks a lot !!

  41.   shweta on June 4th, 2009          Reply

    thanks a lot. Excellent explanation and it helped me a lot

  42.   Alex_B on June 10th, 2009          Reply

    How do I know what SSPs I have to back up, when moving all databases?


    step d:
    “Repeat these steps for each SSP that you want to back up.”

  43.   Yasir on July 11th, 2009          Reply

    Thanks. Greate article. SSP concept clear now.

  44.   sonali on July 23rd, 2009          Reply

    Really helpful!!!!!!!!

  45.   Irfan Faruki on August 4th, 2009          Reply

    I was searching for reason to use multiple SSP and found the answer in the article.


  46.   Rick on August 12th, 2009          Reply

    Sweet ! Totally got d SSP concept here…

  47.   Sanoj on August 26th, 2009          Reply

    Simple , nice

  48.   Shishank Dahiya(Chandigarh,India) on September 7th, 2009          Reply

    It was like explaining to a layman.Liked it.Thanka a lot.

  49.   Prad Nathan on September 23rd, 2009          Reply

    Thank you.. well said and well explained.

  50.   Amlie on September 27th, 2009          Reply


    Nice article on ssp,
    I have a question,

    We have 3 servers in our MOSS Farm ( namely WFE, Index Server and SQL server

    Initially, we were on WSS/MOSS sp1 and had Central Admin, ssp and 1 webapp (having different sitecollections as portals) to my client, all on one server WFE,

    (a) I scrapped the ssp, Web app and brought the farm to basic MOSS SP1 ( althought the services were configured as they were )
    (a)I patched the Farm servers to WSS/MOSS sp2 (b)created another instance of CA on Index Server, and stopped the CA from WFE
    (c)Recreated the ssp but on Index/Application Server, linked it with AD, sinked users,
    (d) Did a restore of my web app ( portal) on WFE

    It starts giving me lot of errors
    (i) Windows Based Authentication site doesn’t work,
    (ii) I am not able to find the cutomised templates for site collections,
    (iii) Extended site don’t work properly,

    Finally to make things work I installed the customized Templates, feature associated with it, dll on both the server ( WFE & Index/Application server )

    What do you think is the issue,
    – Is it the spilting of SSP on Index/Application server or
    – shifting of CA ( Central Admin site )

    Is it appropriate to deploy features & customized site templates & dll on both the servers ( WFE and Index/Application Server )

    Please Advise, seems like I goofed up with the configuration,

    Cheers !!!

  51.   Monali on October 3rd, 2009          Reply

    Great summary and refresher. Thanks.

  52.   Kenny on October 4th, 2009          Reply

    Neat & Nice, thank you.

  53.   Khaled Mahmud on October 8th, 2009          Reply

    This is really nice.

  54.   Kiran Shetty on October 14th, 2009          Reply

    Great Doc!!!!!


  55.   Anuj on October 21st, 2009          Reply


  56.   Juan on November 13th, 2009          Reply
  57.   suresh on November 23rd, 2009          Reply

    thanks alot.


  58.   Susil on December 10th, 2009          Reply

    Perfect explanation to make people understand SSP!!!

  59.   Gerardo Duarte on January 11th, 2010          Reply

    Shane, you should publish more articles about those intrinsic, but yet confusing sides of SharePoint. The way you explained SSP was awesome. How about writing a book about SharePoint2010 or even MOSS ?
    Thanks .

  60.   Harish on January 19th, 2010          Reply

    Good One

  61.   Angelie on February 6th, 2010          Reply

    This is a great article. I’ve struggled with this component of Sharepoint as well and didn’t realize how important it was, and what it really did prior to this article. Good explanation on hierarchy.

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  63.   anil4kick on February 20th, 2010          Reply

    I want to know, how ssp hosts the services in detail? Is it kind of web service ?

  64.   Learn Quick on May 11th, 2010          Reply

    Simply, “The Best”, had no idea what i am looking for and with in first 3 lines, i got the whole concept. Thanks alot!

  65.   Rajat Kapoor on May 16th, 2010          Reply


    Thanks this article comprises of basic definition which i am looking for.

    Keep the good work doing.

  66.   chandan kumar on May 28th, 2010          Reply

    yeh,i really looking for this ssp use,its realy nice and simple explain.thanks a lot

  67.   Yash on June 2nd, 2010          Reply

    What is this..???
    Just Kidding…
    Really a Nice article..

  68.   Mahidhar on June 24th, 2010          Reply

    this is good article. I am also getting intrested to contibute mine.

  69.   Nancy on June 24th, 2010          Reply

    Where do you find the Shared Service Provider? Is it something obvious? I have the wonderful task of researching this but I do not have access to the server to see what I need to see. I have to research for our tech. Is this something that comes with Sharepoint???

  70.   Dillep on July 14th, 2010          Reply

    Thank u very much for giving a good idea about SSp

  71.   Rah on July 27th, 2010          Reply

    I created a the second SSP but while trying to open it , it give an error ” Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage”

    I tried all the possible tricks to resolve it but it is remain their..
    Plz help….

  72.   tarun on July 30th, 2010          Reply

    nice for quick introduction

  73.   yogesh on August 12th, 2010          Reply

    great good job

  74.   Qazi Arfeen on August 19th, 2010          Reply

    Simple, short and easy to understand. Thanks for sharing

  75.   Ranjan Kumar on October 1st, 2010          Reply

    This topic is really helpfull regarding SSP.Pelase write such topic regularlly on new advance feature on MOSS2007 or MOSS2010 and  update me through mail.My Email id is itranjan@yahoo.com

  76.   peyman on October 14th, 2010          Reply

    Great , thanks for your good explanation , could you please introduce one case study about this.
    thanks in advance

  77.   Jaideep on November 22nd, 2010          Reply

    Simply an SSP is something that is more than happy to share services with more than one web application.

  78.   fpike1105 on November 29th, 2010          Reply

    not exactly new to MS SharePoint but learning a lot (still on the low side of the bell curve, trying to accelerate and learn a LOT MORE …Great description of SSP … THANKS

  79.   Ravi Thapliyal on January 9th, 2011          Reply

    Excellent Article, just wanted a clarification what if it was configured by using a set of services, and all Web applications associated with the SSP bore the overhead of all the services even if they werenโ€™t being used. To change the service configuration for a particular Web application, a new SSP would have to be created?

  80.   Sunil on January 21st, 2011          Reply

    Really it is a summary of SPP. Any onecan understand

  81.   Ahmed Afify on January 23rd, 2011          Reply

    Thank you, very helpful article

  82.   Ahmed Afify on January 23rd, 2011          Reply

    Thank you, very helpful article

  83.   Kondal on January 24th, 2011          Reply

    Great artical i ever found on ssp..thanks

  84.   lvirden@yahoo.com on February 7th, 2011          Reply

    I have a couple of questions about Shared Services Provider and MOSS 2007.

    1. How can I tell what Shared Services Provider is doing?

    2. I am seeing a once a week error telling me that “shared services provider synchronization failed”. I found blog entries describing a fix they found, having to do with deleting sync databases that were more than a day old and then restarting the timer jobs.
    What I am wondering is how to determine whether this fixes the job – short of waiting for a week to see if the error occurs next weekend.
    Is there a way for me to trigger the sync and then to watch a lot to see if I can tell what is going wrong?

  85.   Tommy T on February 23rd, 2011          Reply

    If only all technical explanations could be so good… we’d all be out of a job ๐Ÿ˜‰

  86.   PP on February 28th, 2011          Reply

    Thanks a lot for an excellent article.

  87.   anonymus on June 17th, 2011          Reply

    very nice article!!! such a short and simple and still telling so much of ssp!!! Thanks a lot

  88.   Manny on July 3rd, 2011          Reply

    Great, thanks for the simple explanation!

  89.   dotNetFollower on August 21st, 2011          Reply

    Nice article. In my blog I have the post on how to enumerate all shared services programmatically – http://dotnetfollower.com/wordpress/2011/08/sharepoint-how-to-enumerate-shared-services/.
    And a linked article about how to get the name of shared service, which serves your web application – http://dotnetfollower.com/wordpress/2011/08/sharepoint-how-to-get-shared-service-name/

  90.   Sunil on October 11th, 2011          Reply

    Great article, Please continue contributing!

  91.   oneMoreSPdude on October 31st, 2011          Reply

    Thank YOU!!!

  92.   Betty Tech on November 5th, 2011          Reply

    Kudo’s to you for knowing how to articulate technical jargon in layman’s terms! You’ve helped me understand SSP. As I move forward in my ISS career, I will strive to articulate technical jargon in the same manner! Thank you.

  93.   Rajesh on November 8th, 2011          Reply

    Thanks.. Very Nice Article.

  94.   Raj on December 19th, 2011          Reply

    Very useful article… Thanks.

  95.   radhika on January 16th, 2012          Reply

    thx a lot………helpful n easy 2 understand as well………

  96.   JohnMaclane on July 12th, 2012          Reply

    I love your enthuiasm and writing style. I am looking forward on reading the next hub. Rated up.

  97.   uma on January 3rd, 2013          Reply

    Really excellent!As the information and examples which was taken for explaining the SSP is understandable and simple.

    How SSP manage all these services??

  98.   arti on October 16th, 2013          Reply

    can u tell me initial release date of Shared Service Provider

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    When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and
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