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Connect to Act CRM as an External Data Source using PolyBase

Use the CData ODBC Driver for Act CRM and PolyBase to create an external data source in SQL Server 2019 with access to live Act CRM data.

PolyBase for SQL Server allows you to query external data by using the same Transact-SQL syntax used to query a database table. When paired with the CData ODBC Driver for Act CRM, you get access to your Act CRM data directly alongside your SQL Server data. This article walks through creating an external data source and external tables to grant access to live Act CRM data using T-SQL queries.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live Act CRM data using PolyBase due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from SQL Server to Act CRM, the driver pushes down supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to Act CRM and utilizes the embedded SQL engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. And with PolyBase, you can also join SQL Server data with Act CRM data, using a single query to pull data from distributed sources.

Connect to Act CRM

If you have not already, first specify connection properties in an ODBC DSN (data source name). This is the last step of the driver installation. You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure ODBC DSNs. To create an external data source in SQL Server using PolyBase, configure a System DSN (CData Act CRM Sys is created automatically).

The User and Password properties, under the Authentication section, must be set to valid Act! user credentials. In addition to the authentication values, see the following:

  • Connecting to Act! Premium

    In addition to the authentication values, the URL to Act! is also required; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/.

    Additionally, you must specify the ActDatabase you will connect to. This is found by going to the About Act! Premium menu of your account, at the top right of the page, in the ? menu. Use the Database Name in the window that appears.

  • Connecting to Act! Premium Cloud

    To connect to your Act! Premium Cloud account, you also need to specify the ActCloudName property. This property is found in the URL address of the Cloud account; for example https://eup1-iis-04.eu.hosted.act.com/ActCloudName/.

Note that retrieving ActCRM metadata can be expensive. It is advised that you set the CacheMetadata property to store the metadata locally.

Click "Test Connection" to ensure that the DSN is connected to Act CRM properly. Navigate to the Tables tab to review the table definitions for Act CRM.

Create an External Data Source for Act CRM Data

After configuring the connection, you need to create a master encryption key and a credential database for the external data source.

Creating a Master Encryption Key

Execute the following SQL command to create a new master key, 'ENCRYPTION,' to encrypt the credentials for the external data source.

CREATE MASTER KEY ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'password';

Creating a Credential Database

Execute the following SQL command to create credentials for the external data source connected to Act CRM data.

NOTE: IDENTITY and SECRET correspond with the User and Password properties for Act CRM.

CREATE DATABASE SCOPED CREDENTIAL actcrm_creds
WITH IDENTITY = 'username', SECRET = 'password';

Create an External Data Source for Act CRM

Execute the following SQL command to create an external data source for Act CRM with PolyBase, using the DSN and credentials configured earlier.

PUSHDOWN is set to ON by default, meaning the ODBC Driver can leverage server-side processing for complex queries.

CREATE EXTERNAL DATA SOURCE cdata_actcrm_source
WITH ( 
  LOCATION = 'odbc://SERVERNAME[:PORT]',
  CONNECTION_OPTIONS = 'DSN=CData Act CRM Sys',
  -- PUSHDOWN = ON | OFF,
  CREDENTIAL = actcrm_creds
);

Create External Tables for Act CRM

After creating the external data source, use CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statements to link to Act CRM data from your SQL Server instance. The table column definitions must match those exposed by the CData ODBC Driver for Act CRM. You can refer to the Tables tab of the DSN Configuration Wizard to see the table definition.

Sample CREATE TABLE Statement

The statement to create an external table based on a Act CRM Activities would look similar to the following:

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE Activities(
  ActivityDisplayName [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  Subject [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  ...
) WITH ( 
  LOCATION='Activities',
  DATA_SOURCE=cdata_actcrm_source
);

Having created external tables for Act CRM in your SQL Server instance, you are now able to query local and remote data simultaneously. Thanks to built-in query processing in the CData ODBC Driver, you know that as much query processing as possible is being pushed to Act CRM, freeing up local resources and computing power. Download a free, 30-day trial of the ODBC Driver for Act CRM and start working with live Act CRM data alongside your SQL Server data today.