Data Access for Citizen Integrators

December 2, 2015
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As more companies, tech focused and not, adopt Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, a growing trend towards simplified methods of accessing external data by citizen integrators has emerged. This is driving a movement towards connecting directly to data sources versus traditional integration, as more end-users demand easy access to data. But what is the rationale behind this shift, who will help facilitate and what will be the new standard?

Why Simplify the Method?

As more companies, tech focused and not, adopt Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, a growing trend towards simplified methods of accessing external data by citizen integrators has emerged. This is driving a movement towards connecting directly to data sources versus traditional integration, as more end-users demand easy access to data. But what is the rationale behind this shift, who will help facilitate and what will be the new standard?

Why Simplify the Method?

Integration tools have typically been designed by developers as the experts in the area. However, the rise of the cloud has brought speed, time and value into the equation, which has led citizen integrators to play a larger role in utilizing software platforms to access and manipulate data. Citizen integrators generally have a solid background in data, but are not trained developers. They often work in the line of business with increased demand to access data from multiple systems. In addition, they are accustomed to accessing data through a database, but don’t necessarily have the coding skills needed to integrate outside data.

However, as more and more companies begin to use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, including non-technology companies, the number of citizen integrators responsible for maintaining databases grows. However, the need for them to access outside data has resulted in an increased demand for a simplified method of connecting directly to data sources. 

Available Solutions: Salesforce Lightning Connect and Oracle Service Cloud

 There is a marked need for real-time integration patterns that work instantly, out-of-box, without additional integration development effort. Salesforce calls it “click-not-code” and Oracle Service Cloud calls it “citizen development.” Solutions offered by these companies are at the forefront of developing a unified view of data through point-and-click and easy connectivity that makes data accessible to citizen integrators. They make it easier for citizen integrators to access and work with data that is stored outside of the database by using the same functionality associated with Salesforce or Oracle objects. This makes it simpler for data scientists and analysts to pull information from other sources and manipulate it, a task that previously would have required extensive coding skills. 

The Emerging Standard

As more and more people demand and receive access to data, the need for a set of standards grows. The standardization of the exploding number of REST APIs is driven by OData, an OASIS standard REST-based protocol that provides access to data over the web. Its ecosystem has been growing with the rise of cloud applications from Microsoft and SAP serving as OData producers. But with recent announcements from with cloud leaders, Salesforce and Oracle, stating that they will now consume OData, the standards are aligning for mass adoption.

Salesforce and Oracle, equal opportunity data providers, are leading the charge in providing citizen integrators with simpler access options, and others are sure to follow as the trend continues to gain momentum. Data access and manipulation is no longer as task solely for developers, and tools and standards are steadily being introduced to meet the needs of the masses.