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Connect to SFTP as an External Data Source using PolyBase

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

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

Connect to SFTP

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 SFTP Sys is created automatically).

SFTP can be used to transfer files to and from SFTP servers using the SFTP Protocol. To connect, specify the RemoteHost;. service uses the User and Password and public key authentication (SSHClientCert). Choose an SSHAuthMode and specify connection values based on your selection.

Set the following connection properties to control the relational view of the file system:

  • RemotePath: Set this to the current working directory.
  • TableDepth: Set this to control the depth of subfolders to report as views.
  • FileRetrievalDepth: Set this to retrieve files recursively and list them in the Root table.
Stored Procedures are available to download files, upload files, and send protocol commands. See gdatamodel for more on using SQL to interact with the server.

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

Create an External Data Source for SFTP 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 SFTP data.

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

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

Create an External Data Source for SFTP

Execute the following SQL command to create an external data source for SFTP 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_sftp_source
WITH ( 
  LOCATION = 'odbc://SERVERNAME[:PORT]',
  CONNECTION_OPTIONS = 'DSN=CData SFTP Sys',
  -- PUSHDOWN = ON | OFF,
  CREDENTIAL = sftp_creds
);

Create External Tables for SFTP

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

CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE MyDirectory(
  Filesize [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  Filename [nvarchar](255) NULL,
  ...
) WITH ( 
  LOCATION='MyDirectory',
  DATA_SOURCE=cdata_sftp_source
);

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