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Use the Open Data Protocol to Include Data from Business Silos in SharePoint Online

The OData Protocol is defined as ” . . . a standardized protocol for creating and consuming data APIs. OData builds on core protocols like HTTP and commonly accepted methodologies like REST. The result is a uniform way to expose full-featured data APIs.”

This definition may be useful for software developers. Steve Fox, a Director of Services for Microsoft®, expands on this definition in a video tutorial titled Using the SharePoint 2013 REST/ODATA APIs. Steve’s tutorial demonstrates how SharePoint Online administrators, developers and systems designers can use these protocols to pull data into SharePoint Online for a number of reasons, not the least of which can be a Business Intelligence (BI) initiative.

But the definitions, and, in fact, the purpose for these protocols remains obscure for SharePoint stakeholders from Line of Business (LoB) units and other organizations driving most implementation plans for SharePoint Online. What’s required is a business case, which is, unfortunately, not to be found on any of the websites related to these protocols and the overall OData initiative.

Nested in all of the technical verbiage about OData is a very powerful message to SharePoint Online stakeholders. Technical personnel can use the OData set of protocols to include data from non Microsoft data sources (for example, MYSQL databases, Oracle databases, DB2, etc) in BI projects built for SharePoint Online. Of course, OData then becomes a very powerful tool to help drive substantial return on investment (ROI) from an implementation of SharePoint Online.

Therefore, it should make sense for SharePoint Online stakeholders, from organizations supporting a disparate set of data sources, to support any effort by technical personnel to learn correct procedures to collect all of the data required, regardless of where the data happens to reside. Only a project plan build for an entire enterprise can promise to deliver targeted benefits to the users. Steve Fox’s video tutorial on this topic, is an excellent example of the type of training content these organizations should consider licensing for their internal technical training purposes.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved