by CData Software | October 12, 2022

When to Use API vs SQL Connectivity

When your organization aims to streamline the flow of data between customers, partners, and your internal processes, data connectivity helps make it happen.

Previously, we’ve discussed how SQL-based connectivity is centered on choosing simple, consistent, intuitive integration. Standards-based data connectors and data drivers like those based on SQL immediately broaden where you can connect without complicating how you connect. However, that doesn’t mean traditional application programming interfaces (APIs) don’t have a place.

In this article, we’ll explain when SQL connectivity simplifies data access and when direct API connectivity might be a viable alternative.

SQL Connectivity Elevates Your Workflows

SQL-based data connectors and drivers give your data platforms direct access to a library of sources — without adding complicated coding tasks to your IT workloads. Real-world use cases and feedback are built into these solutions to enable nearly plug-and-play solutions for your teams.

Modern users often need to source information beyond traditional relational databases to support their data workflow, so most data-driven organizations need flexible, robust connectivity solutions. However, APIs vary greatly and change constantly, which guarantees that some productivity time will be lost to custom coding and maintenance.

By wrapping an API within a standardized SQL-based layer, any inconsistencies between platform APIs are abstracted away for universal compatibility. SQL-based connectors and drivers extend your native options to query, aggregate, join, and summarize data from non-databases sources. They also optimize SQL queries in scenarios involving complex API-centric actions.

At a low cost and time-to-value, SQL-based connectors enable users to work with data where they need it across a broad range of scenarios – without the extra technical work that APIs demand.

Mobilize Data Directly for Lines-of-Business

Line-of-business users benefit from SQL connectivity when they are looking to connect specific data sources and tools. If they know where they need their data, these database-like connections allow for more holistic, streamlined analytics, visualization, reporting, data integration, and more.

For instance, a financial analyst leveraged an SQL-based data connector from CData to directly access his organization’s QuickBooks Online data within his Excel reports for financial planning and other vital business intelligence efforts.

Streamline Development for Language-Specific Connections

Technical users also benefit from SQL connectivity when they need to code against a specific language like Python or Java. Rather than lose time coding from scratch, the SQL engine within these data drivers enables developers to deliver simplified data movement and processing in a highly customizable connectivity platform.

From automated data replication to live data access and use, SQL-based data connectivity offers flexibility with less complexity.

When API Connectivity Serves Data Best

Despite prebuilt SQL-based connectivity delivering notable benefits, APIs are sometimes the best answer for certain use cases. Direct API connectivity should still be considered if your users need greater control or dedicated operations in particular scenarios. For example, you might opt for API connectivity to support:

  • IoT data streaming such as monitoring sensors for performance readings from manufacturing factory equipment.
  • Event-based messaging like in supply chain communication workflows to update transport status in real-time between partner businesses.

In-house API development is viable if you’re looking to support contained internal workflows that are tactical and somewhat insulated from downstream effects if any unforeseen API changes occur. For instance, a faulty IoT sensor reading might be less likely to break downstream operations if it’s not automated into a larger workflow.

Automated B2B Integration Workflows

When you’re looking to support undisrupted B2B workflows around APIs, custom in-house development can still be costly, time-intensive, and prone to disruptions. Instead, a dedicated data connectivity provider can provide out-of-the-box, fully-maintained solutions based on hundreds of APIs – giving you connectivity without the complexity.

Many organizations are already seeing the benefits of offloading in-house coding work in favor of an ever-growing B2B integration connection library.

API vs SQL Connectivity: Choose the Right Tools for Your Scenario

Data is complex and there are many ways to work with it. Whether SQL or API-based, a data connectivity solution should be selected to fit the use case it supports.

Users will ideally use several sized-to-fit data access options across different teams and functions. SQL-based connectivity supports a broad scope of data use cases, while direct API connectivity works to fill in highly specialized gaps. CData offers a robust roster of data connectivity and integration solutions that enable users to work with data when, where, and how they choose.

To learn more about how our connectivity solutions can support you, reach out for a free personalized demo from one of our specialists today.