Salesforce DevOps at Dreamforce 2021

David Runciman on

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Dreamforce is always a whirlwind of exciting announcements, inspiring stories and fascinating presentations, and this year was no exception. Now that the dust has settled, you might be wondering about the key takeaways for you and your team, so here are some of the announcements that have the potential to be game-changing for admins, developers and IT leaders. With new and improved tools for both low-code and pro-code developers on their way, plus DevOps Center and the imminent arrival of Backup and Restore, there's plenty to explore!

Low-code tools for high-powered development

While you can create more sophisticated customizations on the Salesforce platform than ever before, Salesforce isn't letting up on its commitment to low-code development. In order to democratize development even further, Salesforce has been improving and adding low-code tools that enable anyone to build and automate sophisticated end-to-end workflows. The most exciting of these tools include:

  • Flow Builder
  • Flow Orchestrator
  • App Builder
  • Dynamic Interactions

This is the Salesforce we know and love, opening up opportunities for everyone to build on the platform and create innovative solutions using clicks not code!

Admins watching Dreamforce 2021 remotely

That said, making it easier to create complex Flows and other awesome features always has implications for managing development and releases on the platform. Many of these metadata types, including Flows, can be tricky to deploy. And teams of devs and admins working on multiple user stories will find they run into conflicts more often when the projects are larger and take longer to complete.

Gearset will help you ship those Flows quickly and successfully, so deployments don't eat up your development time. But with no sign of the workload for Salesforce teams getting any smaller, eliminating deployment delays is just the first step. DevOps is the only way to guarantee you can keep pace with business demand for even more innovation on the Salesforce platform.

Development from anywhere using Code Builder

While the low-code tools unveiled at Dreamforce will have appealed to admins in particular, developers had a fair share of product announcements directed their way. Code Builder, which has been in the works for some time, was promoted again this year and is expected to be in beta for Spring '22.

The web-based IDE was pitched at Dreamforce 2021 as a way for Salesforce developers to work "from anywhere". Given that remote and hybrid working are here to stay, the advantages of using a cloud-hosted development environment are clear. But with more teams working remotely, tools and processes that facilitate close collaboration become all the more important. Code reviews in a source-driven workflow are an essential part of making sure all developers see, understand and scrutinize their teammates' work.

In our State of Salesforce DevOps survey, Gearset found that many Salesforce teams have been adopting version control this year. Building on a solid foundation in version control, development teams are using robust DevOps workflows to innovate at speed, from anywhere, without losing a coherent vision for each project or shipping more bugs.

The long-awaited DevOps Center

Salesforce also treated us to more demos of DevOps Center, now scheduled to be GA in Spring '22. The arrival of DevOps Center represents an acknowledgement from Salesforce that releasing on the platform natively is much harder than everything else you can do on Salesforce. While other tools and products have expanded the opportunities for customizing your orgs, Salesforce's offering for managing metadata migrations hasn't been updated for a long time. DX brought important innovations, but not for admins and low-code developers unless helped by third-party software. These Salesforce professionals have been left using change sets for their deployments - a process universally recognized as painfully manual, time-consuming, and error-prone.

Rather than persevering with change sets, many teams have turned to third-party tools like Gearset in order to boost their deployment success rates and slash deployment times. In this corner of the ecosystem, Gearset and others have been making the case for DevOps - and Salesforce has now thrown its full weight behind us.

Salesforce now advocates for version control and other pillars of a mature DevOps process, underlining the importance of graduating from traditional org-to-org development. Thousands of developers and admins are already using solutions like Gearset to manage complete DevOps workflows and enjoy the benefits of shorter release cycles, but DevOps Center will start many more on the path towards source-driven development. You can read our previous post to find out more about what will and won't be available in DevOps Center on its release.

Screenshot of DevOps Center

Backup and Restore

Salesforce's announcement of its own native Backup and Restore tool, which should be GA next month, follows a similar story to DevOps Center: the functionality of native tools has lagged behind solutions offered by ISVs, and Salesforce wanted to improve its offering with tooling that looks more like the other options in the market.

In the case of backup, Salesforce's Data Recovery Service is the culprit that desperately needs replacing. A last-resort option for recovering some data, however slowly and imperfectly, the service is hardly viable as a way to secure your org. But when Salesforce retired the service, users pushed for its return. Salesforce obliged and promised to develop a more robust backup solution.

Backup and Restore is Salesforce delivering on that promise. Just as DevOps Center will offer a subset of the functionality found in other DevOps solutions, Backup and Restore will offer similar features to more comprehensive backup solutions. Users will be able to back up and restore data, metadata, files and attachments. Different backup frequencies and retention periods will be available. Other handy features include a search function to find single records within your backups. More details on capabilities and pricing will soon be available when Backup and Restore is released.

If any doubts remain that the data and metadata in your orgs need to be backed up, Salesforce's expedited delivery of Backup and Restore should dispel those doubts. Without a powerful backup solution in place, you've no way to guarantee business continuity or avoid the costs of losing data. And the best possible setup is to make backup tools and processes part of your DevOps workflow, which is why Salesforce wants to integrate Backup and Restore with DevOps Center. For the same reason, Gearset includes comprehensive backup tooling that sits within your DevOps solution, so your team can rapidly recover Salesforce data and metadata.

Slack-first IT

Finally, we can't fail to mention the $27.7 billion elephant in the room: Slack. What is Salesforce going to deliver following its titanic investment in acquiring the communication platform? The big idea is that Slack will become the 'digital HQ' for your business - a central place for coordinating work. Dreamforce viewers certainly got to see plenty of ways in which Salesforce sees Slack playing a role in our workflows and processes.

One intriguing possibility for Salesforce teams, demoed at Dreamforce, is that Slack might begin to play host for ChatOps functionality. Using new Flow elements for posting messages to Slack and picking up on any responses, including emoji actions, teams will be able automate communications around reviewing and approving each other's work items in DevOps Center.

Screenshot of Slack showing a message from DevOps Center

Join the next summit!

Wherever you watched from, I hope Dreamforce 2021 educated and inspired you to go and achieve more than ever using Salesforce! Can't wait until next year to enjoy more sessions with the Ohana? For the latest and greatest on all things DevOps for Salesforce, join us on October 14th for our next summit, The key drivers of DevOps success.

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