Real Time Access To External Data Using Salesforce Lightning Connect

Real Time Access To External Data Using Salesforce Lightning Connect

Salesforce as we all know is the most renowned CRM-in-the-cloud of this era. In addition to endless top features another vital aspect is its ability to get easily customized and get integrated with other system. There is always this need of migrating or copying the data from one system to your Salesforce organization but Lightning connect definitely allows you to access data from outside your Salesforce system.
Earlier we have always stuck to the traditional idea of importing the data into the Salesforce system from your legacy system, but it had one major drawback that is majority of data have absolutely no use and it is uselessly copied wasting both time and efficiency. On the other hand Lightning Connect maps the various Salesforce external objects to the data tables of the alien system.
So in a way the concept like Lightning Connect can be used under the following circumstances quite profusely:

  • When you are shifting your system standards and don’t want TBs of unnecessary data to be copied to your Salesforce Organization.
  • When you need small chunks of data at a particular time.
  • When you want to avoid stale data and unnecessary data accumulation.
  • When you want real time access to the current data.

Thus Lightning Connect provides a seamless interface across cross platform and allows you to view or look up for relevant data outside your Salesforce organization and dramatically reduces time to unlock back office systems.

How does it work?

Data access is real time and it is accessed by reference. Lightning Connect gives your Salesforce environment access to data from a wide variety of external sources. You can easily integrate tables from Microsoft SharePoint, SAP and a wide pool of other data sources, in real-time. It can be accessed as External Objects, without writing a single line of code.
To create and edit, external user permission needed is ‘Customize Application’. Then you need to undergo the following steps:

    • 1. Goto Setup, type External Data Sources in the Quick Find, and select External Data Sources.
    • 2. Click New External Data Source, or click Edit to modify an external data source that exist previously.
    • 3. Complete the necessary fields.
    • 4. Then you have to select the most appropriate authentication protocol:

If you select Password Authentication, you will have to enter the username and the password for accessing the external system or as an alternate you can select OAuth 2.0.

  • 5. Click Save.
  • 6. Click Validate and Sync, the connection is successfully accomplished.
  • 7. Or as a secondary choice you can select tables and click Sync to perform the following action for each table selected-
    • a. Create a Salesforce external object automatically.
    • b. Create a custom field automatically for each table column that is compatible with the Salesforce metadata field type.

External Objects are accessible just as the way Standard Objects and Custom Objects are in record feeds, list views, detail pages, and Visualforce. It also enables you to create relationships between External Objects and Standard objects or Custom Objects to seamlessly integrate the legacy data, and even optimize Chatter feeds on External Object pages for the purpose of collaboration.

The OData Concept…

Salesforce Lightning Connect uses an Open Data Protocol (OData) standard, a  modern REST based integration protocol. OData is basically a standardized protocol for creating and consuming data APIs. OData builds on commonly accepted methodologies like REST and core protocols like HTTP.
SAP and Microsoft have already implemented OData support, so products like SharePoint are directly accessible.
It is a lightweight and a much easier way to access external data from within Salesforce. But the information so used is not copied and stored. The Lightning Connect is not an EAI alternative that can be utilized for creating a unified view of master data across systems or powering always-on business processes that is the most probable reason why partners including MuleSoft, Informatica,SnapLogic, and Jitterbit have jumped on the Lighting Connect bandwagon — as it is no threat to their ETL or EAI businesses.
The only problem associated with it is that it only handles reads, but even when it does handle writes, it is not usually appropriate to add data to most applications by just inserting records in tables. Usually a collection of related information clubbed together must be offered to be able for the upgrade to appear sensible.
So I believe once the negligible problems are sorted out Salesforce Lightning Connect will be the most advanced and talked about technology benefiting the enterprises and especially the ones with large amount of external data and who want real time access to it.
Also check: Integration of Salesforce with external database
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Pratyush Kumar

Pratyush Kumar

Co-Founder & President at Algoworks, Open-Source | Salesforce | ECM
Pratyush is Co-Founder and President at Algoworks. He is responsible for managing, growing open source technologies team and has spearheaded more than 200 projects in Salesforce CRM alone. He provides consulting and advisory to clients looking for services relating to CRM(Customer Relationship Management) and ECM(Enterprise Content Management). In the past, Pratyush has held consulting roles with various global technology leaders, such as Globallogic & HCL in India. He holds an Engineering graduate degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.
Pratyush Kumar

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