The ever-growing digital demands and user requirements have raised the bar on how customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are utilized in the business. And Salesforce has enabled organizations of all sizes to meet that bar. As a ‘no-software’ CRM solution, it has emerged as the most sought-after engagement layer connecting businesses to their customers. Apart from empowering organizations to digitize and manage customer interactions from the outside-in, Salesforce helped them leverage the cloud infrastructure. Additionally, it evolved into a low-code platform, making software development far easier and faster than traditional code-based platforms. Now, cross-functional teams can develop custom applications without any need for rigorous approaches common with traditional technologies like Java.
However, as teams started building more and more customization into the Salesforce platform, the complexities and challenges of using the platform exploded. Among many challenges, continuous and agile deployments on Salesforce became a prime bottleneck. The Salesforce deployment required a more structured and rigorous approach and sophisticated management of thousands of XML files and dependencies. At this juncture, Salesforce DevOps has emerged as a solution to bring this complexity under control.
What is Salesforce DevOps
Salesforce DevOps is not much different from the actual DevOps, but it is primarily focused on enabling organizations to leverage Salesforce at scale. The DevOps for Salesforce reimagines the way business manage their Salesforce processes such as customizing orgs, building new features, and deploying changes, then pushing that work along a release pipeline for integration and testing before the production release. It seamlessly collaborates all the Salesforce experts to contribute to an iterative development and release cycle, irrespective of their technical skillsets or job role.
Why DevOps is the answer to Salesforce development challenges
Here are some of the benefits of applying DevOps to Salesforce development:
The version/source control aspect of DevOps enables teams to track all the changes made and review the work contributions from individual developers. It allows multiple contributors to work on the same features simultaneously. This comprehensive tracking helps you in auditing and debugging code issues easily, thereby reducing risk and avoiding costly mistakes. As the changes are tested proactively before release, the teams can realize faster, and more reliable development.
Likewise, the CI/CD approach of DevOps automates the process of testing and validating changes and paving way for the frequent deployment of changes to multiple development environments and on to production. DevOps facilitative an iterative and incremental approach to Salesforce development, enabling teams to make frequent small changes and get immediate feedback. The automation brought by the CI/CD to the Salesforce development significantly reduces manual errors in the releases. It also minimizes downtime by enabling teams to safely roll back unwanted changes. The teams can now work on multiple projects and change as per the feedback without losing the existing work. As the feedback loop is fortified with CI/CD, the teams can drive the Salesforce development process and deliver value to the customers at a faster rate.
Testing is an integral part of the Salesforce development process. The Salesforce platform enables developers to test almost 75% of the new code they build and deploy to the production org. But the tests should be relevant and robust enough to ensure that the team can easily build reliable code. The automation facilitated by DevOps is the right solution here. It helps test the changes every time they are merged into the master or deployed to another environment. As the changes are proactively tested before deployment, the team can save a lot of time and effort. Moreover, the automated testing of new and existing code prevents the breakage of existing functionalities. It improves the Salesforce development quality by reducing code bugs and issues and frees up the team to focus on building great features.
DevOps in Salesforce facilitates teams with the tools and processes required to monitor and roll back changes to their data and metadata and restore complex data hierarchies to their orgs as quickly as possible during any outage. With Salesforce DevOps, you can easily deploy backup data to sandbox environs for testing. Moreover, you can leverage your deployment process to restore data and metadata.
What are Salesforce DevOps tools and how they can improve the productivity of Salesforce developers
Salesforce platform brings in amazing features and capabilities to deliver high-quality products. But there’s more than that meets the eye. It becomes a tedious task when you’re using Salesforce to run an organization with several hundreds of users and multiple developers working across projects. This is where adopting Salesforce DevOps tools is a good idea.
Salesforce DevOps tools are automated tools that help improve the quality, speed, and consistency of Salesforce productivity. They include CI/CD, static code analysis, version control, and more. The DevOps tools for Salesforce help you optimize every part of the Salesforce development lifecycle from planning and building to testing, deploying, and monitoring. With the right set of DevOps tools, businesses can promote unparalleled deployment, continuous delivery, automated testing, and backups. Teams can deliver changes to the Salesforce orgs quickly while maintaining code quality and data security.
Successful Salesforce DevOps adoption helps teams deliver at speed while maintaining product quality. And this can only be possible if you select the right set of deployment tools. These tools enable your teams to handle multiple projects, track the progress and self-manage builds efficiently. The Salesforce deployment tools are packed with rich features and an intuitive user interface, making the entire process of deployment and management a cakewalk. These tools automate upstream and downstream deployments so that your teams will deploy more, roll back quickly, and free-up time for higher productivity.
Some of the popular Salesforce Deployment tools are: Salesforce Setup, ANT Migration tool, Copado, Gearset, Flosum, Force.com IDE
Version Control Tools
Salesforce Version Control (VC) tools play a prominent role in successful DevOps strategy and are the foundation for effective team-based development. The tools automatically and continuously track each update or change in the source code with the timestamp and log the signifier for each person making a change. This enables teams to easily backtrack to a previous state at any time.
With the version control tools, regular code backups are created to facilitate restoration when an accidental overwrite negatively impacts the code repository. The VC tools organize the project into a clear file structure to enable branching, effective merging and providing updates on team progress. Moreover, the right set of version control tools allows developers to work independently on their features, without having to wait for other programmers or team members. This is a key driver for continuous integration in Salesforce DevOps.
Some of the popular Salesforce Version Control tools are: GitLab, GitHub, BitBucket, Apache Subversion, Perforce
Salesforce DevOps is all about accelerating the product delivery speed while ensuring quality. At the heart of it, DevOps uses a continuous and automated delivery pipeline to leverage fast and reliable deployment. This is where Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) tools come in.
While CI is the process of integrating code from multiple developers into a single software release, the CD is the process of deploying all types of changes, such as features, configurations, and bug fixes, into production at any time with the correct approvals.
Salesforce CI/CD tools are a crucial part of an Automated Release Management System. They automate tedious tasks and create a solid CI/CD pipeline to facilitate seamless product updates, improve time to market, and free developers to focus on innovation.
As you perform hundreds of releases over time, there may be instances where some deployments may not work as expected. At that moment, you must effectively roll back the changes to avoid disruption to your users. This is where Salesforce Rollback tools come in handy.
The rollback tools give your team the ability to roll back changes to an org after deployment and monitor production orgs for any discrepancies. They immediately roll back the unwanted changes you made and ensure that there is minimal disruption to your users.
Some of the popular Salesforce Rollback tools: Gearset, Git, Copado, Prodly, Flosum, Autorabit
Salesforce DevOps enables teams to make frequent changes in the code or add new functionalities in the build. However, this fast-paced deployments and releases make the code vulnerable to bugs and issues. So, to ensure the quality and security of the code, it's critical to integrate testing tools that can run manual and automated tests.
Manual Salesforce testing is the process of testing the code by leveraging traditional methods. The QA team can use manual testing to execute functional testing, happy path testing, integration testing, regression testing, and system testing.
On the other hand, automated testing leverages a computer program to test a Salesforce.com or Force.com app.
Some of the popular Salesforce testing tools are: Selenium, Assure Click, QTP, Testim, TestRigor, Accelq
Whether you’re leveraging trending data warehouses, traditional legacy systems, or multiple platforms, reporting tools help you access them all. You can easily pull in data from services like MySQL, Google BigQuery, Oracle OCI, Amazon Aurora, Amazon Redshift, DB2, XMLA, and more. The less time your team spends on downloading and manipulating data, the more time they can focus on driving more business value.
The Salesforce reporting tools help you track your engineering and DevOps metrics by allowing you to pull in data from all of the different services and platforms and display precisely what you need in a single interactive dashboard.
Some of the popular Salesforce reporting tools are: Tableau, Klipfolio, G-Connector, Conga Courier, Smartsheet, Zoho Reports, InsightSquared
In Salesforce DevOps, teams work in a live operational environment with highly dynamic microservices running across a highly distributed system of tightly connected services, applications, data, and computers. In such highly dynamic environs, it’s imperative to integrate the backup processes into the DevOps CI/CD pipeline.
Broadly there are two types of backups in Salesforce:
- Data: The values stored in the object-store.
- Metadata: The additional configuration data specific to the project or organization including custom layouts, fields, rules, APEX triggers, reports, and others.
For organizations working on multiple projects and heavily customizing their instance, there may be a considerable amount of data that requires backup protection. So, leverage backup tools that offer automated and on-demand Salesforce backup for all your Salesforce data. Having flexible recovery options means that your team can restore data at any point in time, especially in the case of a low-grade deployment.
a) Data Backup Tools
In a well-defined DevOps system, you need to use specialized backup tools that provide an easy way to integrate with your CI/CD pipeline. Otherwise, it's simply an external dependency that you need to coordinate with every single deployment. So, instead of trying to juggle with various CSVs, use Salesforce backup tools that come with an intuitive interface to help you restore your data at any time.
b) Metadata Backup Tools
No developer would like to overwrite a complex Flow or Apex trigger, only to be told that there’s no backup. Having metadata backups in the DevOps cycle makes the process more reliable, as teams can easily perform rollbacks.
Some of the popular Salesforce backup tools are: CloudAlly, OwnBackup, Grax, Spanning, Metazoa Monarch, Skyvia, Ave Point, Odaseva, Druva
Read more: Our detailed comparison of Salesforce DevOps tools: Opsera vs Copado
Test Automation Tools
Unit testing and achieving code coverage ensure that your deployments are safe and secure. However, they do not ensure that your business processes are performing as intended while offering a great user experience. Salesforce test automation tools are the solution for this challenge.
Automated testing tools can detect bugs in real-time, which means you can identify and fix them quickly and ensure high-quality deployments. They can run scheduled tests to check functional processes, such as triggering an event whenever certain conditions are met, moving a user from and to a specific database, progressing an opportunity, and more. The tools also ensure that Apex classes are working without fail, in addition to running all unit tests.
Some of the popular Salesforce test automation tools are: Selenium, Provar, Katalon, Functionize, ACCELQ
Code Scanning Tools
Code quality plays a prominent role in Salesforce deployments. However, there's no such thing as "full-proof manual scanning". Regardless of how experienced or skilled your Salesforce team is, there’s a possibility of overlooking a small bug during the code review process. Unhealthy code could lead to issues in deployment security, functionality, and longevity. Besides, it could also lead to severe security issues, which in turn requires your DevOps team to revisit and review each line of the code manually.
Code scanning tools help DevOps engineers to automate the mundane, repetitive processes of reviewing Salesforce code and configuration. Moreover, a sophisticated DevOps tool can also ensure that industry code standards and best practices are followed across the team to produce a high-quality Salesforce Org.
Some of the popular Salesforce code scanning tools are: PMD, Code Scan, Checkmarx, SonarQube, Clayton, Codacy, Code Climate, Quality Clouds, DigitSec
Orchestrate Salesforce DevOps tools like a pro with our no-code Salesforce DevOps platform
With Opsera’s no-code Salesforce DevOps platform, you can empower your team to seamlessly orchestrate their Salesforce DevOps tools and accelerate all phases of their Salesforce development, integration, and deployment. The DevOps teams can build secure and scalable declarative CI/CD pipelines with quality and security ingrained at the core.
"Opsera DevOps continuous orchestration delivers easy automation of release management across the enterprise applications such as Salesforce. Comprehensive visibility from the platform helped us decommission legacy release management tools.”
- Dayakar Duvvuru, Sr. Director of Enterprise Applications at NortonLifeLock
Read how NortonLifeLock reduced 40% of the manual CI/CD steps by using Opsera's Salesforce DevOps platform here: Case study: NortonLifeLock
Our no-code Salesforce DevOps platform enables you to accelerate your Salesforce deployments by 50-75%, apart from enjoying the following benefits:
- Easily automate your CI/CD pipelines with your own choice of CI/CD tools.
- Out-of-box integration to security tools and testing tools, collaboration tools, and ITSM tools