Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) has become an industry standard for communicating with a database. The model is simple. Client software is designed to use an ODBC API. Vendors write drivers that implement this API on the client side and talk natively to their database on the server side. This allows application developers to write one application that can communicate with many different databases simply by changing the driver, which is an external file.

ODBC uses SQL as its language for communicating with any database, even when the database isn't relational. Microsoft offers drivers that allow you to query text files and Excel workbooks. A good place to start learning more about ODBC is Microsoft's page at <http://www.microsoft.com/data/odbc/ ...

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