We’ve been working with Lightning Connect recently. Although it came out last year, most of our customers couldn’t afford it. This year, Salesforce dropped the price of the SKU for Small Business customers and we’re starting (slowly) to see some clients embrace it.
The basic gist is this – you connect Salesforce to an external database using an oData connection – oData is a cool REST “layer(?)” that gives you the ability to see a data source and describe that data source inside Salesforce.
Once you’ve described the data source, you then build “Virtual” objects – these objects allow you to see, report, dashboard, and analyze data described in them, BUT that data does not physically exist in your Salesforce instance. The data continues to live at the source – no handshake, no duplicate records across 2 systems, no out of sync records – none of that. Basically these virtual objects give you all of the power of Salesforce – without the Storage and duplication. Awesome!
And the tool is really easy to setup – once you have the oData connection to your host system, you find the table(s) map them to Salesforce Virtual Objects, and you’re off to the races.
Watch this video that details the product. If you’re thinking of integration, and have a system that can handle oData connections, you should seriously consider Lightning Connect.