HardDrive to RAM – Excel Services


Quick Background…

The building blocks for Excel Services…

  • Excel Calculation Services

The ECS takes care of all the calculations that happen on the server side, opening the files from the trusted location for the same and refreshing the workbooks etc. It can be considered the server counter part of the Excel client that we have.

It also takes care about the security aspect of it, meaning not allowing accessing of unauthorized external data sources etc.

It can be load balanced across servers, can be installed separate from the WFE server and also helps in caching the sheets, graphs, external query results and the state of ongoing calculation results.

  • Excel Web Access

As the name indicates, excel web access is responsible for allowing access to sheets via browser and is rendered as HTML.

Apart from saving the changes, one can do almost everything that is possible in the excel client with no client installation on the end user’s machine.

It is available in form of a web part and can be used to display whole or part of excel sheet, the only constraint being that the file has to come from a trusted location.

  • Excel Web Service

This is the developers perspective of the story and allows to do all the stuff programmatically.

Things like accessing a centralized calculation formula using different parameters can be helpful in generalizing things across the organization in terms of duplication of efforts and avoiding errors due to multiple versions of business rules. 

  • Excel Calculation Service Proxy

This sits between the excel web access and the excel web service and takes care of the coordination business.

It can also do load balancing when there are multiple servers or else in a single server scenario it has nothing much to do other than handing over the request.

  • Steps to configure Excel Services

There are two steps required before the users can start using excel services, enabling the services and configuring the trusted location for the files. Files that are not stored in the trusted location can’t be used in excel services. The trusted location can be be a document library, a URL or a shared folder.

Enabling of the services can be done from the central administration web site from operations\services on server, by clicking the start link.

The trusted file location can be configured from the shared server administration section in the central administration. One has to pick the shared service provider and then go to excel services management\trusted file locations; here we can add\edit or delete the said file locations.


Want to keep it short, there are still other aspects to this topic, like the publishing, named parameters, security, performance, external data sources etc etc. They come after the basics components mentioned above have been put in place and configured.

Going through the above notes would solve the purpose for me, you are most welcome to add more to it though 🙂

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