Salesforce Lightning Connect allows you to setup an external object (which is like an actual object in Salesforce, but is ReadOnly and cannot be used in reports, among other limitations) but the data is not stored in Salesforce. Instead, when a user views a list, related list, or detail page of records of that object; Salesforce Lightning Connect will make a real-time request to its related data source as it is configured. That data source must be provided using the oData protocol, which is essentially a web service following certain guidelines for CRUD (create, read, update, delete) operations, and it must be accessible to Salesforce.
Chances are, the data source you are trying to surface is not provided via oData. (It may though, you will want to check) If it is, then great! All you need is the service URL and the setup in Salesforce is pretty easy. However, if it isn’t, you’ll have to use a tool like Informatica Cloud to create an oData data provider that will read whatever the data source is (SQL, xml, flat file, MS Access) and provide it via an oData service.
Salesforce Lightning Connect has a certain price tag per URL connection. If you then are using Informatica there is a price tag per month there as well. Although this may seem pricey, think about the Integration, Migration, Synchronization time and effort that you save in utilizing Salesforce Lightning Connect. In addition, your client’s Salesforce instance does not store this data in Salesforce so there are some savings there as well.
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This blog originally appeared on SF for You, a blog by Silverline Technical Architect Gean Martinez.