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A .NET data provider is a software library consisting of classes that provide data access services such as connecting to a data source, executing commands at a data source and fetching data from a data source with support to execute commands within transactions. It resides as a lightweight layer between data source and code, providing data access services with increased performance.
The .NET data provider is a component of ADO.NET, a subset of the .NET framework class library.
The ADO.NET data access mode is designed such that the data set object can be used to represent an in-memory, relational structure with built-in XML support that can exist in a standalone, disconnected manner with its data, which can be passed through various layers of a multitier application. ADO.NET provides a set of interfaces to implement a custom .NET provider for specific data access needs, such as easier maintenance and better performance.
A .NET data provider makes it possible to process data directly in the data source or data stored in data sets, allowing for manipulation by the user. Data from various sources can also be combined, or passed between tiers of the application.
A .NET data provider serves as a channel to retrieve and update data existing in the data store.
A .NET data provider consists of the following core objects:
A .NET data provider abstracts the database's interaction with the application and therefore simplifies application development. However, to achieve the best performance of an application together with capability and integrity, the right .NET data provider has to be selected based on factors like design, the data source of the application, application type (middle or single tier), etc.