By Sumit Sarkar
We all know data continues to proliferate, and the possibilities of leveraging data are endless. But without connectivity, we can’t progress to the next level of interoperability between systems of record and the applications that make our lives easier. Enter OData.
After initial development by Microsoft, OData became a standardized protocol of the OASIS OData Technical Committee. The committee works to simplify the querying and sharing of data across disparate applications and multiple stakeholders for re-use in enterprise, cloud, and mobile devices.
OData enables the creation and consumption of RESTAPIs, which allow Web clients to publish and edit resources, identified using URLs and defined in a data model, using simple HTTP messages. OData aims to remove the complexity of connecting your applications to data sources in the cloud, so you can focus on defining the business logic of your on premises, cloud, or hybrid applications without having to worry about request and response headers, status codes, HTTP methods, and media types.
OData picks up where the first standards left off. ODBC was created for C and C++ apps, and since then, others have been developed to accommodate new languages, such as JDBC for Java applications. Leveraging RESTful APIs, OData works well in the cloud and hybrid environments of today.
What’s Great about OData?
Not only does the OData standard enable Web-friendly connectivity, it makes interoperability among various data sources possible. With every cycle of new technology there’s disruption, and a growing list of relational databases have made interoperability even more complex. You may have a variety of Software as a Service applications in the cloud—for example, Marketo, Oracle, and Salesforce—each with its own RESTful API and different code bases. If those data sources can output OData and you can consume it, connectivity is simplified dramatically.
For example, Salesforce Connect enables the consumption of OData by treating anything that produces it as a data object. So, if I’m a Salesforce developer and can consume OData, I can suddenly access invoices from an enterprise resource planning system behind the firewall or get campaign data from Eloqua, and everything is treated as a native object thanks to the OData standard. In other words, I have a federated view of the data from various sources. Better yet, I don’t need to understand anything about Eloqua APIs or how to query views or tables; I just plug in the OData and I’m off and running. In this scenario, I may even be able to drag and drop the data as objects, or point and click to extract the data ina self-service way, rather than writing a bunch of code. Doing this improves productivity tremendously, shortening the development cycle.
OData provides full metadata of the data source. You can see the full structure of the data available from an OData service, as well as data types and relationships. OData also supports batch processing of APIs—multiple different API calls will execute on the server as a single request and deliver a consolidated response.
The OData Ecosystem is Thriving—and Growing
Putting OData producers and consumers together has built a rich ecosystem around the standard that continues to grow. OData producers are services that expose their data using the OData protocol. These include technologies such as MongoDB, SharePoint, Progress DataDirect Cloud, and SAP NetWeaver Gateway. OData consumers are simply applications that consume data exposed using the OData protocol. OData consumers can vary greatly in sophistication, from something as simple as your Web browser all the way through to a custom application that takes advantage of all the features of the OData Protocol. Examples include Telerik, Tableau, Salesforce Connect, Drupal, and JBoss.
Early adapters of OData include larger organizations that are building out micro services for infrastructure. These include large banks, non-profits, or other enterprises with a mix of internal and external services that have different protocols including SOAP, REST, and others. If they standardize on OData for their micro services, it’s much easier from an architectural perspective to connect to those services.
Another trend we’re seeing is mobile application development platforms are adopting OData as well, augmenting the growing ecosystem and ushering in a new age of unprecedented connectivity.
As businesses look to facilitate access to their wealth of data, OData provides the ideal means to standardize the link between applications and the broad spectrum of enterprise data sources, and will continue to impact both the big data space as well as the application development community. SW
Sumit Sarkar is the Chief Data Evangelist for Progress DataDirect.
Apr2016, Software Magazine