Understanding Dynamic Data Source Connections (BI Reporting Techniques)

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Data source connections matter a lot. Every data report needs a data source. Simple, right? Not quite. Each data source needs a connection string, which is generally the location of the data source — like an IP address or website.

For every data source that you want to generate a report for, you have to create a unique connection string. Imagine working with thousands of data sources, each one requiring you to hardcode a connection. An operational nightmare, isn’t it?

In this article, we’ll be exploring data source connections, why they’re necessary, how they work, and how Yurbi is transforming traditional connection strings with a dynamic model.

What Are Data Source Connections in BI?

Data sources are like a roadmap to your data. It tells BI, “Here’s where I want you to get your information from.” You can connect BI to many sources, like Excel, SQL Server, BigQuery, and cloud-based services like Salesforce and Azure SQL Database.

Creating a connection sounds straightforward, and for most use cases, where you just have a single datasource it’s not a big deal. You connect a data source, you build a report, you see the data from that data source.

But for use cases where you have multiple replicas of the same database, in most traditional BI tools, if you want a report to pull the same data, but from a different database, you have to copy and recreate that report, because the datasource connection string is hardcoded.

The Rising Need for Dynamic Data Source Connections

It’s not atypical for a company to have multiple variants of a single database. However, this can complicate the data connection process. In the single-tenant data model, a company creates a unique host for a large client’s data. This data remains isolated from anyone else’s, ensuring that it remains safe in its own environment.

Segmentation involves breaking data down into different database tables, each with its own table for each customer. This results in a large database with hundreds to thousands of tables, each with multiple copies for the same customer.

There is also the scenario of high-availability, when customer data may be segmented across regions for performance or redundancy issues.

Additionally, new compliance laws could require data for customers in the European Union (EU) to be hosted in a certified EU data center, while data for US customers is hosted in a certified US data center.

This would result, in many cases, with the same database structure but multiple clones of it being hosted with different customer data depending on the parameters and legal requirements.

This means that dynamic data solutions are essential to providing reliable service to customers, rather than creating multiple clones and facing the technical nightmare of hardcoding and maintaining connection strings for each one.

How Do Dynamic Data Source Connections Strings Work?

Hosting multiple versions of a database means you need a dynamic solution to keep your information connected without hardcoding. With Yurbi, we rely on dynamic data connections that work in a three step process:

  1. Define a data source connection.
  2. Define alternate connections for all the various databases within the same data model.
  3. Designate a specific connection string for each user based on their unique needs.

Using dynamic connections to connect data sources ultimately allows you to reduce technical labor, minimize maintenance needs, and streamline your data reporting strategies.

When a report is generated using the dynamic connection model, each user is connected to the appropriate database based on their assigned string. This ensures every user sees the data they’re looking for regardless of any underlying database structure.

For example, a user in the UK would be able to see their data, while someone in America could see theirs, all within the same report. This eliminates the need for you to create multiple reports for each database variation, ultimately saving you time and resources.

Important Considerations

Mastering dynamic data source connections has some requirements. Namely, database schemas must be identical across all connected databases, and it’s vital that data types are consistent and compatible.

Let’s delve into this further, starting with schemas. Your database schemas (table and column names) have to be identical across all sources to ensure the dynamic connection works. Customizations for customers, like adding new tables or columns specific to their account, requires modifying the query report itself. So, you’ll essentially create a new report to modify that specific database.

Second, data types (integers, strings, dates, etc.) must be consistent for each column across the connected database. Inconsistencies could result in errors.

So, while dynamic data connections do save a considerable amount of time and make maintenance much easier, they still require proper protocol to ensure the greatest results for your customers.

Unlock the Power of Dynamic Data with Yurbi

A key consideration when building Yurbi is that we make it easy for end users to leverage data AND we make it easier for organizations to deploy and use business intellitence software.

One common pain point of many BI tools is the need to copy and re-create reports just for security reasons. With Yurbi we have quite a few features to eliminate the need to reproduce reports by making them secure and dyamic. These include:

App Shield Security Policies: This allows administrators to setup data level security so that end users can run the same report and see only the data they are allow.

Data Tags: These are paramters that can be defined at the user level or group level and passed into the security policies, criteria statements, stored procedure paramters, and filters to dynamically create data level security constraints.

User Defined Data Source Connections: This allows each user to have a unique datasource connection string as discussed in this article.

Dynamic Default Filters: Default filters can be defined globally for dashboards, but based on the security polciies defined the value of the defaulted filter will be specific and appropriate based on the data the end user is allowed to see.

Understanding and effectively utilizing dynamic data source connections is essential for creating truly agile and insightful BI reports. Yurbi simplifies this process, empowering your organization to harness the full potential of your ever-changing data landscape.

With Yurbi, you can seamlessly connect to a wide array of data sources, from databases to cloud applications, and combine them effortlessly within a single report. Our intuitive interface eliminates the need for complex coding, allowing even non-technical users to create dynamic reports that automatically update as new data flows in.

This means your reports stay relevant, your insights stay fresh, and your decision-making stays ahead of the curve. Experience the power of dynamic data connections with Yurbi. Request a free live demo or schedule a personalized consultation to discover how we can streamline your BI reporting process.

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