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Connect to Dropbox as an External Data Source using PolyBase

Use the CData ODBC Driver for Dropbox and PolyBase to create an external data source in SQL Server 2019 with access to live Dropbox 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 Dropbox, you get access to your Dropbox data directly alongside your SQL Server data. This article walks through creating an external data source and external tables to grant access to live Dropbox data using T-SQL queries.

The CData ODBC drivers offer unmatched performance for interacting with live Dropbox data using PolyBase due to optimized data processing built into the driver. When you issue complex SQL queries from SQL Server to Dropbox, the driver pushes down supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to Dropbox 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 Dropbox data, using a single query to pull data from distributed sources.

Connect to Dropbox

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 Dropbox Sys is created automatically).

Dropbox uses the OAuth authentication standard. To authenticate using OAuth, you can use the embedded credentials or register an app with Dropbox.

See the Getting Started guide in the CData driver documentation for more information.

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

Create an External Data Source for Dropbox 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 Dropbox data.

NOTE: Since Dropbox does not require a User or Password to authenticate, you may use whatever values you wish for IDENTITY and SECRET.

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

Create an External Data Source for Dropbox

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

For Dropbox, set SERVERNAME to 'localhost' or '127.0.0.1' and leave PORT empty. PUSHDOWN is set to ON by default, meaning the ODBC Driver can leverage server-side processing for complex queries.

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

Create External Tables for Dropbox

After creating the external data source, use CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE statements to link to Dropbox data from your SQL Server instance. The table column definitions must match those exposed by the CData ODBC Driver for Dropbox. 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 Dropbox Files would look similar to the following:

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE Files(
  Id [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  Name [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  ...
) WITH ( 
  LOCATION='Files',
  DATA_SOURCE=cdata_dropbox_source
);

Having created external tables for Dropbox 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 Dropbox, freeing up local resources and computing power. Download a free, 30-day trial of the ODBC Driver for Dropbox and start working with live Dropbox data alongside your SQL Server data today.