Over the last 5 years, DevOps has increasingly become the standard for Salesforce development and release management. The upcoming General Availability (GA) of Salesforce’s DevOps Center marks a move away from the burdens of change sets and brings Salesforce development more in line with the practices used on other platforms. If you’re wondering what it will include and what will be possible, we have you covered — here’s everything you need to know about DevOps Center!
What is DevOps Center?
DevOps Center sits within the Salesforce UI and is a new change and release management tool. It’s designed to take some of the DevOps workflows that are familiar to programmatic developers and make them available to teams of admins and declarative developers — a significant upgrade from change sets. The aim is to encourage a ‘democratization of DevOps’ that empowers all team members to get involved in the release process, enables collaboration, and allows the whole team to see an even greater return on their Salesforce investment.
When will DevOps Center be released?
DevOps Center was first announced in 2020, with plans for it to be released in 2021, but the complexity of creating a new DevOps tool has stalled the release. DevOps Center was released as a public beta in July 2022, with the latest announcement suggesting that GA will come in Winter ’23.
How can I access DevOps Center?
DevOps Center is currently free for those with Salesforce Professional, Enterprise, Unlimited, Developer, or Performance editions. While there are plans to introduce a tiered payment system, we don’t know what that will look like yet. We’ll hopefully hear more on this when DevOps Center reaches GA.
If you have an eligible Salesforce edition, you can access DevOps Center through Setup. DevOps Center comes as a Managed Package that needs to be installed into a production org and can then be connected to any Lightning-enabled or classic org. DevOps Center isn’t currently available to install in a sandbox.
If you’re keen to learn more about DevOps Center beta, some have already started sharing their experiences on this Trailblazer group. Salesforce has also published a list of known issues and a forum for users to provide feedback.
What will DevOps Center include?
As DevOps Center is currently in beta, some functionality is still in the works. But Salesforce has revealed some features we can expect to see in the GA release.
A single UI for click-based releases
Salesforce has continued its emphasis on ‘clicks not code’ with DevOps Center, which is UI-driven and available within the Salesforce platform. The interface should allow all Salesforce users to dive into DevOps regardless of their experience, making it easier for devs and admins to work together on their release pipelines. This is more than just a quality-of-life improvement — teams who have already achieved this collaboration using third-party DevOps platforms have seen a dramatic improvement in the speed and stability of their releases.
DevOps Center will also give team members greater control over their releases than is possible with change sets. Your metadata changes are grouped into ‘work items’, which you then push from your dev org all the way to production. You can promote work items individually or as versioned ‘bundles’ of changes. Current change set users will be glad to hear that you’ll no longer need to recreate your package from scratch every time you move between orgs!
The main value of DevOps Center is in enabling teams to track their changes by following a source-driven process, all within Salesforce’s UI.
By providing a Git-based workflow, DevOps Center will allow Salesforce teams to reap the benefits of version control: seeing the full history of code changes made across the team, avoiding overwritten code, and collaborating more effectively.
The initial release of DevOps Center will sit on top of a set branching strategy: changes will move through a series of Git branches for development, review, testing, and production, each with an associated org. The number of environments is configurable. At GA, DevOps Center will only support GitHub. Karen Fidelak, Senior Director of Product Management at Salesforce, has confirmed that support for other version control systems, like BitBucket and GitLab, will follow later.
What won’t DevOps Center have?
Salesforce is aware that DevOps Center can’t support teams in every aspect of the DevOps process, so plan to integrate with third-party solutions. We know that DevOps Center won’t include the following at GA.
Most Git providers not supported
Post-GA, there are plans to support other Git providers, alongside GitHub, and enable customizable Git-branching strategies. But teams using GitLab, Bitbucket, or Azure DevOps will have to wait for those integrations.
No work tracking integrations
Salesforce intends to add support for third-party ticketing systems like Jira and Rally. But currently teams can only track work items in DevOps Center, rather than integrating with third-party tools for tracking project delivery.
No native automation tools for CI/CD
One of the most significant gaps in DevOps Center is the absence of automation tools that will let you set up and manage a CI/CD process. Adopting version control is a significant step for Salesforce teams wanting to implement DevOps, but automating tests and deployment steps in the release pipeline is essential for DevOps maturity and continuous delivery.
No metadata comparisons
Salesforce has no plans to build a comparison engine for DevOps Center, meaning users will not be able to view the metadata differences between their environments. Instead, DevOps Center relies on Git and GitHub to track changes and provide merge capabilities.
Karen Fidelak has described metadata comparisons between environments as a huge strength of Gearset — and of course we agree! Gearset’s comparison engine underpins our problem analyzers, which hugely increase users’ deployment success rates.
Limited backup and rollback
DevOps Center lacks a tight integration with full data and metadata backups, which protect your org from the possibility of a release that causes chaos. There’s no rollback functionality either, so some key guardrails for making releases secure are missing.
Not yet available for package-based development models
DevOps Center doesn’t support some of the ways of working that Salesforce encouraged after releasing Salesforce DX. There are future plans to support package-based development models, which will allow for package installations to be incorporated into the release process.
Is DevOps Center right for you?
DevOps is a journey, not a destination — teams move through stages of DevOps maturity as they improve their processes and see higher levels of growth. Each team will have differing setups, deployments, and processes, so will need different features from a DevOps solution. When planning which solution to use for your team, a good start is to assess your team’s current level of DevOps maturity.
Full DevOps maturity, with an automated release pipeline isn’t yet possible with DevOps Center. Gearset’s DevOps platform has been developed over years to meet the needs of Salesforce teams adopting and scaling DevOps processes, so you can get the most out of Salesforce for your business. If your team is keen to begin with Salesforce DevOps, but isn’t sure where to start, chat to one of our DevOps experts about your current challenges and Salesforce ambitions.