Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What Sets Salesforce Apart


As Trailhead’s content continues to evolve, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the first stop to learn about Salesforce.  The recent release of new trails and modules continues the expansion from its technical roots to a wider focus. 

For instance, lets take a look at the Navigate the Salesforce Advantage trail.  This trail helps explain who Salesforce is (usefully if you have ever tried to explain this to your family), the basics and benefits of the platform, as well as the power of the ecosystem.  While there are four modules in the trail, I am going to focus on two of them.

Salesforce Cloud Benefits

The first unit in this module helps explain the concepts of a platform and an app (spoiler – Salesforce is both).  The second covers the differences between cloud computing and traditional on-premise solutions.  Both units cover the benefits provided by Salesforce, but there are more.

My career started around Y2K, before the term SaaS even existed. It was around the time application development shifted from desktop client-server architecture to web based client server solutions.  When I reflect on what I had to do then and compare it to now, the differences are remarkable. 

I spent a ton of time on infrastructure development.  Whether it was operations system installation and upgrades or setting up databases configurations, a lot of time and energy went into getting to the point where I could develop something.  Then the first part of the project was building the authentication system, security controls and logging.  Towards the end of the project, effort turned towards packaging, installation and deployment (burning and shipping CD-Roms, including a CD-Label printer anyone).  I am sure many of us remember the joys of dll-hell and the general challenges of software upgrades.

While all of these tasks were necessary to deliver a solutions, clients don’t place much value in them.  Installation and security do not add business value, as its not solving a business pain.  However, you can’t mess it up – such as exposing credit cards in a data breach.  If you are not staffed with expertise in each of these areas, there is a lot at stake.  So lots of effort and risks with little upside benefit.

In the Salesforce cloud world of today, I don’t have to worry about a lot of these details.  Salesforce has the expertise to handle infrastructure, networking, security, APIs, etc. better than I ever can.  No longer do I need to write a program to automatically check for upgrades before running and download/install the latest version from an FTP site.  Instead, Salesforce has packaging covered, with automatic upgrades, versioning and logging.

I now have more time to focus on solving business problems.  In addition, my attention and thought is on the client’s needs, rather than the plumbing.  While it’s true there is a lot to learn and keep on top of around Salesforce, it ties into the second point I want to cover.

Salesforce EcoSystem

The second trailhead module of focus covers the power of the partner ecosystem and customer community.  I can personally attest to the power of the ecosystem.  When I started my Salesforce journey a few years ago, I was impressed with resource available.  Whether it was online documents, discussion groups, boards, communities, user groups, events, developer orgs, MVPs, help was around every corner no matter what your learning style.  The biggest challenge was figuring out where to start and finding time to take it all in. 

Once you get your bearings, the ecosystem is so large you can carve out your on niche and start giving back.  Find your area of interest and start sharing what you know.  While you learn from others, they can learn from you – the power of a community.


Completing this trail definitely hit on points that resonate with me.  If you are looking to better understand Salesforce, check out this trail.  Let me know what points you found most interesting.

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