8 – Connecting to non-Drupal database

Is it possible to use Drupal’s Database Abstraction Layer to connect to a non-drupal database?

I have secondary non-Drupal database configured in my settings.php, and when I attempt to use getConnection() on it, I get redirect to the /core/install.php page. I have a need to connect to a second, non-Drupal remote database for a custom module I am building to gather reporting data from an external source that doesn’t have an API available.