What is ODBC (and still useful today?)

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There’s a misconception these days that ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) is now an archaic form of database communication.

Sadly, we live in a day and age where people seem to think that just because something’s old, it’s no longer relevant.

Sure, while those unable to adapt to the fast-paced nature of today’s digital climate get left behind, some technology remains timeless.

Included in that list of things that will stand the test of time is ODBC.

In fact, overlooking it could end up getting in the way of achieving optimal productivity and efficiency—amongst other setbacks.

Let’s take a closer look and examine what ODBC is and how it’s still useful now and beyond.

What is ODBC?

Open Database Connectivity is an industry-standard responsible for defining a single application programming interface. It performs this function to access an array of other “data sources,” which can be any of the following database servers:

  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL
  • MySQL
  • Excel files
  • .TXT files
  • .CSV files

How does utilizing ODBC benefit businesses?

In many cases, especially with legacy applications, it’s the preferred method of communication. More commonly, these days, it’s a way that a software vendor can provide access to their cloud-based applications while allowing an organization’s application programs to connect, without requiring API programming. The ServiceNow ODBC driver and many of the drivers provided by CDATA are examples of this concept.

The Benefits of ODBC:

Below are four benefits of ODBC, though these are really just scratching the surface.

· Maximum interoperability: A single application has access to multiple database management systems.

  • It’s prevalent: Many vendors provide an ODBC driver and most operating systems support the communication to data sources via ODBC drivers. While native drivers are always a first option, ODBC is a viable and fully supported method of communication.
  • Makes the editing process more efficient: With the help of the templates provided, ODBC helps to edit multiple objects at a time, making this process far more streamlined.
  • Acts as a valuable information filter: It provides a standard query language that many resources can write and understand. This makes the task of utilizing relevant functions stated in the database, it’s possible to filter and sort out information as needed.

The Challenges:

Here are a few challenges a given business might run into when using ODBC:

· Can be complicated: Building and maintaining ODBC can be challenging for some.

· Always in a state of flux: All Microsoft products keep evolving, and ODBC is no different. So, companies using ODBC must keep up with this rate of change.

· Speed: As we mentioned above, native drivers are always best and, in many cases, an ODBC driver could add just an extra layer of communication that slows things down.

Is ODBC Still Relevant?

As the years have gone by, and technology continues to move with lightning quickness, some are beginning to perceive ODBC as obsolete.

Many decry this standard of database connectivity for not being HTTP friendly, for instance. Another widespread issue is that there is the fact that some ODBC drivers have been deprecated and not updated or maintained. Many believe it’s only being provided for legacy application backward compatibility and should not be used for new application development.

However, while Microsoft may not support ODBC as it once did, it doesn’t mean others haven’t adapted.

And regardless of cries for a new standard, ODBC is still the primary method of database communication. Many companies are finding inventive ways to apply their principles within the parameters, framework, and expectations of a business’s given needs in 2022.

Here are a few ways that ODBC is keeping up with the changing times as the standard for database querying and reporting tools:

· Vast levels of support: As far as connecting applications with data, ODBC is the most widely supported interface.

  • Highly customizable: Concerning programs commonly used in 2020 (such as Python), ODBC interfaces are accessible from every major development technology.
  • Professional design standards: ODBC is unparalleled when it comes to reliability, scalability, performance & security powering as a leading data integration solution.

The above capabilities display how ODBC fits into today’s climate because it’s more than just an onsite database access tool. These features are being leveraged by CDATA.com for major API-only SaaS apps.

Also, a company like Snowflake and Dremio utilizes ODBC communication to its cloud database, which can sync data from API sources.

Even more poignant is that Amazon Web Services does precisely the same thing as Snowflake and Dremio with Redshift. MongoDB also has an ODBC driver.

Think about that for a second: Amazon is always on the cutting edge of technology. The company is one of the first adopters of AI in their warehouses. It’s a corporation that won’t waste its time with outdated database connectivity.

Plus, a company like Segment is using a similar methodology to help companies build and maintain ETL pipelines from various tools that provide bits and pieces of customer data collection. Furthermore, they’re using their devices to help define a schema and continually tweak it for each new data point added by their customers.

As such, it’s very evident that, despite any discussions of deprecation, ODBC is as relevant as ever.

How Can DashboardFox Help?

Everyone knows that ODBC is here to stay, even though technology allows everything to be obsolete in the blink of an eye. It is important to know that there is a BI solution that can help you use ODBC to your advantage, and it has more to offer than expected.

Because ODBC is a common standard, you won’t find a BI tool that doesn’t support it. The key is to find a BI tool that supports ODBC and every other connection method that you may need for your data sources. Hint: we think you should take a look at DashboardFox.

DashboardFox of course, supports native database drivers. We also support direct fetching of data via API feeds, but one of the great fallback options if the vendor offers it, that works well, is ODBC.

Not to mention, DashboardFox is also affordable (pay once, enjoy everything for a lifetime), a self-service BI, and has a dedicated support team to cater to your every concern without having to wait for days and file tickets upon tickets just to resolve one issue.

Does this sound perfect to you? We want to push the envelope even further, so we are inviting you to book a live demo with our experts (the same ones who will help you in the future), or contact us for more.

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