As a business tool, customer relationship management (CRM) has been pushed to the limit by the ever-growing demands of digital technology and users. Salesforce allows organizations of any size to achieve this goal. It has become the most popular engagement layer for businesses and their customers as a "no-software" CRM solution. It has also evolved into a platform that uses low code, which makes software development much easier and quicker than traditional code-based platforms. Now, teams from different departments can create custom applications without using traditional technologies such as Java.
Continuous and agile Salesforce deployments became one of the biggest challenges. Salesforce DevOps is a solution that has been developed to control this complexity.
What is DevOps?
DevOps comprises technologies and strategies that integrate and automate processes between IT and software development company. It encourages team empowerment, communication between teams, and technological automation.
DevOps emerged in 2007 after the IT operations and software development groups voiced their concerns over the traditional software development model, where developers developed code independently from operations that distributed and supported it. DevOps is a combination of development and operations. It refers to a practice that combines both disciplines into one continuous process.
What is Salesforce DevOps?
DevOps is a term that has been used since 2009 when it was first coined. It's defined as:
Below is a simple representation of the life cycle of software development. Hundreds of software tools are available to automate and facilitate processes at every stage.
The Salesforce DevOps definition is not different from that of the broader term. Still, it is centered on ensuring Admins & Developers can deploy changes and work through the Software Development Lifecycle as effectively as possible while causing the least bugs and disruption for users.
DevOps adoption in the Salesforce ecosystem is slower than expected, perhaps because implementing declarative changes is so easy. Many of the top Salesforce ISVs focused on this trend were founded between 2014 and 2016. Salesforce announced its Developer Experience in 2016. It was centered around providing tools that support software development.
Why DevOps Can Help You Overcome Salesforce Development Challenges?
We will cover several types of tools in the next section. But first, let's look at the Salesforce change sets to understand the importance of Salesforce DevOps, especially regarding release management.
Salesforce DevOps is successful because it allows for speed while maintaining software quality. To get started with Salesforce DevOps, the first thing you should do is choose your deployment tools and hire experienced Salesforce implementation consultants. These tools will help you track projects, organize teamwork and make it easier for developers self-manage their builds.
Advanced Salesforce deployment solutions offer extensive functionality, and a simple interface, simplifying the deployment and maintenance processes.
Most Salesforce apps have a user interface with many features, making deploying and managing updates a breeze. Features include:
- Version control: Integrate with your preferred host provider, such as GitHub, to fully understand what was modified, when, and why.
- CI/CD: Take advantage of Continuous Integration and delivery procedures by automating the delivery pipelines for your sandboxes.
- Rollback: Have you ever carried out a deployment that did not go according to plan? Undoing the changes will ensure that your users won't be inconvenienced.
- Testing: It is important to run unit tests regularly and to pass code coverage to ensure smooth deployments. Using deployment tools, this procedure can be automated.
- Reporting: The ability to monitor and make changes based on team performance is crucial to any process. Reporting is available in most Salesforce DevOps products.
DevOps teams work in a dynamic operational environment, with highly dynamic microservices distributed throughout a tightly coupled data, services, and machines system. In such dynamic environments, it is crucial to integrate backups into the DevOps CI/CD Pipeline.
There are Two types of Backups in Salesforce:
Data is the value of an object stored in your object store.
Metadata is extra configuration data unique to a project or company. Examples include custom layouts and fields, APEX triggers, and reports.
Data protection concerns organizations that work on multiple projects or substantially customize their instances.
Search for Salesforce backup solutions offering automatic and on-demand backup of all your data. The availability of multiple recovery options allows you to restore your data at any time (especially if it is a low-grade implementation).
- Data Backup: There is more than one way to back up your data in Salesforce. However, using Apps simplifies the process. Salesforce backup tools allow you to restore data from any point in the past without juggling multiple CSVs.
It is essential in the Salesforce DevOps ecosystem because it allows data to be recovered even if a deployment fails.
- Metadata Backup: No developer would want to replace a complex Flow or Apex Trigger only to find no backup. Teams can quickly roll back changes by incorporating metadata backups into the DevOps cycle.
CloudAlly is recommended, as are OwnBackup and Grax.
Test Automation Tools
DevOps tests are more than running unit tests and obtaining coverage. Yes, this is a great technique for ensuring the safety and security of your deployments. You must ensure that your construct can perform business operations as planned and provides a great user experience.
Automated testing systems can detect defects in real-time, allowing you to identify and fix them quickly, leading to faster deployments. They can perform regular tests to verify that all functional operations are functioning properly, including initiating events when certain circumstances are met, transferring users from or to a specific database, advancing opportunities, etc.
Code Scanner Tools
Code quality is a major consideration for Salesforce teams. There is no foolproof way to scan code. Your team, however, experienced or skilled, could overlook a small bug.
Unhealthy code can cause issues with deployment security, functionality, and lifespan. It may also lead to serious security vulnerabilities that require manual inspection by your DevOps staff.
DevOps tools can also enforce best practices in the code to produce healthy code.
All of the following tools are recommended: PMD, Code Scan (Checkmarx), SonarQube (Clayton), Codacy, Code Climate (Code Climate), Quality Clouds, and DigitSec.
Features and Outcomes of Salesforce DevOps
Here are some of your best outcomes when you combine Salesforce with the typical DevOps development cycle.
Effective Collaboration and Better Communication
By combining DevOps and Salesforce, your team can communicate more effectively.
This will transform how your organization communicates with one another regarding development and production.
Allow the relevant operations, business, or development teams to communicate with stakeholders more easily. This will help the work get done quicker and without the need for cc and bcc emails.
This software can automate Salesforce deployments, automating the entire production pipeline and avoiding approval delays.
The quality of the product will never be compromised due to the rapid production movement.
It is possible to promote changes in metadata code and configuration almost instantly.
This can be done on multiple environments of Salesforce in just a few simple clicks.
By eliminating redundant tasks and improving the quality of the product, you can improve productivity across all teams.
Fast Feedback Loops
DevOps' Agile framework is the best way to implement a never-ending feedback loop.
Salesforce is a powerful tool for continuous improvement and stability.
These continuous and iterative loops will help your teams speed up production.
Increased Release Frequency
Release management is another topic that needs to be addressed occasionally.
DevOps allows your Salesforce development team to focus on a few features, collect customer feedback, and then loop it back into development for improved quality.
There are some limitations, and this can be a problem.
Thanks to our superior technical support and extensive release management tools, you can be assured of a rapid increase in release frequency.
Shifting left is a simple but effective way to test software and products.
DevOps for Salesforce, which follows the agile framework, allows you to move your code and production testing to the left.
We will save countless hours of production and manpower as we can reduce the time required for production.
This would also eliminate iterations after deployment. Release the highest quality.
Benefits of Salesforce DevOps
When you hire Salesforce consultants, there are numerous benefits you can grasp for your business:.
Your company will be a leader in the market if you can recognize a demand, create a product, and deliver it quickly to the market. The needs of your clients are constantly changing. The most reliable and recent upgrades are best to meet these ever-changing needs.
Enhance Data Security:
Manual methods can be vulnerable to data security issues. Minor errors can cause it, missed bugs or unintentional disclosure. Data security may not be considered until the testing stage in many development processes. You are exposed to possible losses and liabilities.
Salesforce is not a one-size fits all solution. You will need to develop a customized strategy for your needs. DevOps for Salesforce deployment begins with assessing your current toolset and goals.
Automation is Streamlining Efforts
You are overloading your team with work. You can speed up the process by relieving your team members of repetitive tasks. You can choose from a variety of automated tools when installing Salesforce DevOps.
Cutting Costs in Production
The most important goal of a pipeline is to produce a useful and successful product. You are still running a business and must cut costs associated with each effort. As the savings increase over time, the ability to reduce the costs associated with new initiatives will compound your advantages.
Evolution of DevOps in Salesforce
Since its launch 1999 as a CRM, Salesforce has evolved a lot. DevOps has been incorporated into the platform in each iteration to improve the developer experience.
Take a look back at the evolution of the platform over the years.
2001: Salesforce Build Servers
The simple HTML Salesforce UI allowed only one production instance and very little development. In 2001, the release of the build server transformed Salesforce from being a basic CRM into a development platform.
A build server is called a Continuous Integration (CI) Server. It provides developers with an environment dedicated to building their projects. This change enabled developers to customize their Salesforce instances according to their unique organization's needs. The platform became so valuable that there was no chance to switch to another.
The Cruise Control build server was a pioneer in enabling early DevOps to schedule their builds. The Cruise Control build server was a pioneering CI system that inspired Hudson/Jenkins and other CI systems. This build server also contributed to developing and implementing continuous delivery (CD).
2006: Salesforce Sandboxes
Salesforce was a relatively new platform, and it had only two development options:
- If you work directly in production, errors may be released into your live instance.
- Maintain an org for the Developer Edition that mirrors your production instance.
These options were not optimal, but they did work. Salesforce Sandboxes, released in 2006, gave developers greater flexibility through a dedicated environment to experiment. Now, developers can experiment with different configurations, automation, code, and more without risking damaging production.
Transferring those changes from the sandbox into production was unnecessary and complex. Change sets.
2010: Salesforce Change Sets
Change sets enabled developers to move metadata and changes between Salesforce environments. Change sets were notoriously difficult to manage. However, the automatic documentation feature allowed developers to transfer changes and metadata components from one Salesforce environment to another. Here's how:
- Outbound Change Sets: Created an inventory of all components moved from the sandbox.
- Inbound Change Sets: Document all components that are moved into production.
The platform tracks who made these changes, when, and how. This allows organizations to reduce human error and streamline audits of development.
Change systems are generally a good way to deliver code, but the ability to track small changes is limited. Developers had to use inefficient methods such as Excel spreadsheets or project management systems, like JIRA, to track changes without a single change-management process.
Change sets did not support all Salesforce components. Teams had to update these manually, including profiles, permissions, and triggers. Although some teams preferred to update these components manually, it was inefficient.
Salesforce has begun incorporating more DevOps functionalities and tools to address these limitations.
2017: Continuous Delivery and Salesforce DX
Salesforce released the beta of Salesforce DX in 2017. This stands for Developer experience. The DX release was regarded as the beginning of a brand-new era for Salesforce developers and administrators. It firmly integrated DevOps within the platform.
This update provided a set of new tools to improve the developer experience. These include:
- Salesforce Command-Line Interface (CLI): CLI is a command line interface that simplifies the build automation, development, and management of a Salesforce org. It includes features such as tool aggregation and org synchronization.
- Integrated Development Environment (IDE): Increased developer productivity by consolidating different software writing elements, including source code editing and debugging.
- Scratch Orgs: Since scratch orgs expire quickly, certain tasks can be automated to achieve efficient CI/CD. This allows you to run the tests in a realistic, repeatable, and clean scratch org rather than a test org which is only used occasionally.
- New Metadata Format: With the new metadata API, moving code and streamlining product development was easier.
- Second-generation packaging: Managed 2GP packages created new, more efficient ways to develop, distribute, and manage apps and metadata.
Salesforce still had some issues to resolve, despite these new features. As an example:
- How can you prevent accidental override?
- How can you manage metadata nesting structures, such as profiles and triggers?
- How can you manage long-term deployments effectively?
The Key Takeaway
DevOps has been implemented in Salesforce to automate, continuously monitor and systematize code testing. This will improve the overall build quality. The team members are encouraged by their managers to give feedback to one another to discover any early mistakes and make changes. It is easier to incorporate feedback and make adjustments with a team that works together. The business owners expect quantifiable results from the time and effort put into deploying Salesforce DevOps within the company.
Salesforce DevOps is poised for a bright future. DevOps possibilities continue to grow as the platform adds integrations like Slack, GitHub, and Customer 360.
My first advice to those thinking about faster software releases is to begin at the developer's level and automate and secure the software supply chain in the most efficient way possible. Ensure you have the correct checks and balances to ensure your production does not suffer.
Julie Aplustill, a well-known content marketer from California, USA. She is associated with Closeloop Technologies, a website development and Salesforce development company. Julie enjoys sharing her thoughts on the latest digital technologies, web development trends, and augmented reality, among other diverse niches.