One of the best new features of SharePoint 2010 is the Managed Metadata Service. Using this service, we now have the capability to reuse metadata taxonomies and content types across the various sites within our organization. Previously limited to sharing this type of information within a single site collection, this functionality is going to enable enterprises to maintain greater consistency across their sites, and will do so with fewer resources needed for setup and maintenance.

To get started, simply create a metadata taxonomy and content types within a single site collection. Once you have everything set up on your initial site collection, you can select this site collection to be used as a “term store” that can be reused in other site collections. This configuration can be made in the Central Administration application. When you have another site collection where you want to use the metadata service you’ve previously created, simply import that term store into your new site collection.

Taking it one step further, we are not limited to just one term store. We can create multiple metadata services and reuse them in sites collections that we choose. For example, let’s say we have two environments. The first is a top-level Intranet site collection accompanied by multiple collaborative site collections. The second is a top-level Extranet site collection that is also accompanied by multiple collaborative site collections. Each environment will need its own metadata service. With this new feature, we can create a metadata service for each environment. We can use the top-level site collections for each environment and then have the other related site collections use the corresponding metadata service.

This is a huge leap forward for managing and sharing metadata and content types across your SharePoint environment. This improvement improves the overall consistency and effectiveness of your SharePoint environments and eliminates some of the management burden on your administrators.

For more information on the Manage Metadata Service, please check out the following links:

Managed Metadata Overview
Managed Metadata Administration

Chris Caravajal is a consultant with SharePoint911.