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Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)

Architecture Diagram


What is ODBC?

ODBC is the acronym for Open DataBase Connectivity, a Microsoft Universal Data Access standard that started life as the Windows implementation of the X/Open SQL Call Level Interface specification. Since its inception in 1992 it has rapidly become the industry standard interface for developing database-independent applications. ODBC consists of two key components:

  • ODBC Driver Manager - an application binds to this generic library which is responsible for loading the requested ODBC Driver.
  • ODBC Driver - dynamically loaded by the ODBC Driver manager for making connection to target Database.

Although starting life as an exclusively Microsoft Windows Data Access API, as its popularity grew, application-authors and database-vendors alike longed for this Data Access standard to be available on other operating systems. This resulted in companies like OpenLink building their own ODBC Driver Managers and suite of ODBC Drivers for other operating systems - Linux, Unix, Mac OS, OpenVMS and others. The OpenLink-branded ODBC Driver Manager is called iODBC, Independent Open DataBase Connectivity, an Open Source platform-independent implementation of both the ODBC and X/Open specifications. OpenLink also provides a suite of Universal Data Access ODBC Drivers for the most popular databases across multiple operating systems.

Why use ODBC?

ODBC enables maximum interoperability between the application and database as a single application can access any ODBC-enabled database by simply being configured to use its ODBC driver, and likewise an ODBC-enabled application can access a given Database using its ODBC driver. The ODBC driver manager acts as the common interface enabling this dynamic switching to take place, thus giving application developers the database-independence of which they have always dreamed.