How DevOps plays a role in Salesforce compliance

How DevOps plays a role in Salesforce compliance

Eliza Pepper on

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Consumers are more conscious than ever of how their data is handled, which means businesses have compliance at the forefront of their minds. To reflect this, security regulation is tightening, and fines for compliance breaches are ever growing and wider reaching. This is all moving in the right direction as third parties are forced to handle personal and business data with the same security and care that they’d hope for their own.

Salesforce sits at the center of business operations, handling a significant proportion of internal and customer data, while also providing strong data analytics and development capabilities. As a result, it’s necessary to make sure your Salesforce instance is compliant, and good to understand how the Salesforce development lifecycle can support your wider compliance concerns. This is all easier said than done, so read on for a complete guide to Salesforce DevOps compliance and how you can begin to change your development process.

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What role does DevOps play in compliance?

At its core, DevOps is a release management ideology. It encourages us to break down silos between our development and operations teams, promoting collaboration and agility. In practice, this means continuous feedback from live environments, frequent and small releases and a move towards automated deployments and testing.

Agile principles

DevOps builds upon the principles of agile software development by suggesting best practices and process improvements for development teams.

While you won’t find “compliance” explicitly listed in the principles of Agile, its goal is “to satisfy the customer” through “continuous attention to technical excellence”. These are all key motivations for achieving compliance within your Salesforce instance — addressing customer security concerns, reaching the technical standards of regulatory requirements and implementing compliance sustainably, so that you can stay compliant in the future. The principles of DevOps and Agile are closely aligned with compliance priorities.

Shift left

From a technical perspective, DevOps provides an innovative and effective approach to Salesforce compliance. DevOps encourages teams to “shift left”, moving their testing, quality and performance work earlier in the development cycle. As a result, operational concerns are addressed during development, instead of leaving them until after a release cycle. Rather than leaving these concerns to the operational team, all team members are concerned with quality and testing, regardless of where they fit into the Salesforce development lifecycle.

Shifting left can also help Salesforce teams become more compliant by bringing all team members into the compliance process — making it far easier to resolve security issues. While it may be difficult to resolve compliance issues in a live environment, where end users and live data are already affected, it’s easier to resolve them during the development process. Baking security, quality and regulatory checks in from the start is a small process shift that has a huge impact on the ease of Salesforce compliance.

The next step: DevSecOps

DevSecOps is an evolution of DevOps practices, bringing security into the process. Building on the best practice and process guidance of DevOps for release management, DevSecOps offers practical pointers for integrating compliance within your Salesforce DevOps process.


DevSecOps recommends automation of manual compliance tasks, such as checking for vulnerabilities or static code analysis. This means that all development work has passed through the compliance process, with little practical effect on the day to day work of development teams.

DevSecOps encourages the automation of tasks seemingly unrelated to compliance, like the final build of a deployment. Reducing the risk of human error minimizes the chance of introducing bugs that could leave you open to security vulnerabilities.

Continuous compliance

DevSecOps also encourages the practice of continuous compliance, where teams continuously develop in line with data security regulations. This reduces the burden on staff as they can be sure that any concerns are met with each new release rather than having to complete huge overhauls at set compliance periods.

Continuous compliance also encourages active monitoring of live environments. This means that any security flaws are caught early, rather than when they eventually become a compliance breach. Catching issues early takes the stress out of resolving them and better protects your Salesforce data, maintaining your reputation and customers’ trust.

How to integrate compliance into your DevOps workflow

If you’re looking to integrate robust compliance practices into your current DevOps workflow, then there are several key ways that you can implement DevSecOps.

Support auditing with version control

Compliance concerns can be addressed through your version control system. Version control provides a single source of truth for all live code, including a tracked history of who changed what and when, which makes following an audit trail simple and concise. As auditing validates whether your compliance process is working, supporting it with version control will give you a good overview of how compliant your Salesforce development process is.

Keep releases secure with CI/CD triggers

Deployment triggers are a popular use of CI/CD that automatically run builds or tests each time a change is committed to version control or a release branch, as well as when a pull request is created.

Alongside the code reviews and unit testing at this stage, security and compliance tests can be automatically triggered alongside the build. This can check the accuracy and security of your deployment while it’s still in a staging environment, meaning any potential security issues are caught before they reach production. By introducing pipeline compliance, you can be sure that any changes that make it through to release have met your security requirements.

Make use of monitoring for peace of mind

Even with a robust process, teams still face the risk of security breaches and grapple with how best to report, contain and resolve them. Though compliance teams dedicate resources to planning and practicing their recovery from a security breach, too little attention is paid to spotting a breach in the first place. DevOps monitoring tools can help by continuously tracking the status of production and automatically alerting you to any concerns. This gives you peace of mind that your live environments are secure at all times.

Introduce and maintain and DevOps culture

Completing your first DevOps-compliant release is a lot of work — it requires buy-in from the whole team and learning some new processes or tooling. Going forward, it’ll be frustrating to search for the same support from your team that you needed for your first DevOps compliant release. By encouraging a team-wide DevOps culture you can make sure that each release has the same level of interest and scrutiny as the first.

As a result, your Salesforce team will consistently follow best security and DevOps practices because compliance is built-in as part of the team’s mindset. This DevOps culture is central to continuous compliance.

Mask data to keep it secure in development environments

A key motivation for DevOps compliance is securing your customer and business data. By seeding your sandboxes with masked data, you’re able to disguise your customers’ personal data while still developing and testing. And because real production data is being masked in your sandboxes, your development work will still be accurate.

Secure production with backup and recovery

Backup is a core pillar of Salesforce DevSecOps, keeping production secure in two ways. Firstly, the backup securely stores all of your data and metadata so that it won’t be lost in the event of accidental deletions, breaches or development errors. Secondly, backup solutions allow you to restore to production swiftly and successfully in the event of any data losses. Introducing a strong, comprehensive backup and restore plan to your DevOps process protects your data and allows you to securely recover from losses.

There are a few more compliance concerns to consider when choosing your Salesforce backup solution, namely retention policies and the compliance of the servers hosting your backups. Opting for a backup solution with the same compliance and regulation standards and your own means continuous compliance across your entire lifecycle.

Implement access control procedures

Though DevOps compliance introduces lots of additional security for teams, the Salesforce platform itself provides the functionality for strong compliance. Salesforce’s built-in, easy-to-use access control configurations — profiles and permission sets — mean that users can only access records to see the information they actually need.

While configuring profiles and permission sets within Salesforce is easy, these metadata types can be far harder to deploy. Making sure that your release cycle can handle the complexity of deploying Salesforce’s access control will allow you to remain continuously compliant.

Efficient development, total security

The benefits of DevOps are clear — quick and accurate releases, whole team collaboration and agile automated pipelines. But few realize that it can also facilitate compliance across the whole deployment lifecycle.

If your compliance process is facing problems with silos, lack of buy-in or inconsistency, then DevOps can help. For a complete guide to DevSecOps principles and best practice, download our ebook on Deciphering DevSecOps.

Or, if you’re ready to start your DevOps journey, sign up to your free 30-day trial of Gearset today.

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