From task management and customer engagement to collaboration tools, Salesforce has offered continuous innovation and features that help different departments work together seamlessly. However, almost all Salesforce teams face a problem when it comes to deployment.
With Salesforce, deployments become tricky because changes within a company that uses Salesforce can challenge the entire infrastructure’s integrity. The slow deployment time also negatively impacts the developer’s experience. Developers end up being frustrated because it is slow and tough to get their code up and running on the Salesforce platform. Salesforce deployments need the careful management of numerous XML files and workflow dependencies.
In 2016, when Salesforce announced the SFDX Command Line Interface slated for the Winter 2018 release, everyone was excited because Salesforce was introducing Continuous Integration, Infrastructure as Code and Automated Testing into its already varied toolset. All these are significant DevOps practices. SFDX has helped teams automate processes and adopt more robust workflows. Salesforce DX now allows companies to use CI/CD solutions with custom scripts. This means that teams can automate deployments and reduce manual interventions or errors.
With SFDX, many more enterprises have been able to build effective Salesforce deployment pipelines and automate processes that are already in place.
Today, there is a huge shift towards continuous delivery as enabled by DevOps. The idea is to write a feature, test it, and deploy it immediately – all at the same time. The reason Salesforce deployments take so long is because all tests run before the actual code is deployed. With DevOps, everything works in parallel and is connected like an infinity loop.
Here is how we can use CI, CD and DevOps to speed up the deployment process and achieve solid business objectives.
Salesforce and DevOps
DevOps, a combination of the words DEVELOPMENT and OPERATIONS, is exactly that – a high-powered concept that focuses on integrating people, processes and the tools needed to create a collaborative approach between all stakeholders. The application development team works hand-in-hand with the IT operations team. This ensures that there is seamless collaboration between software development and implementation. While DevOps is undoubtedly a mindset, it does encompass fundamental methodologies like Continuous integration, delivery or Deployment (CI/CD), real-time monitoring and management systems.
With Salesforce incorporating the DevOps approach into its delivery process, companies can decrease deployment times significantly. This means that companies can accelerate time to market. Teams can reduce the time taken to create and test new apps. DevOps can also result in a greater ROI from Salesforce. It can also ensure that teams work out a high-velocity approach to building new capabilities.
Defining a Salesforce DevOps Strategy
Salesforce DevOps refers to teams applying the principles of DevOps to the company’s Salesforce integration and implementation. According to this research, when it comes to version control for code and objects, 40% of these tasks are done manually without DevOps. This slows down the deployment process significantly.
Apart from accelerating deployment time, DevOps in Salesforce is important to create precise strategies for the software development process and for clarity across the software delivery lifecycle. DevOps can help organizations to expedite the development process significantly, especially when automating all manual steps and reducing errors.
To really speed up the deployment process for Salesforce, organizations need to implement a CI/CD solution and apply it to the complete software development lifecycle.
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery/Deployment (CD) are automated tools used to streamline complicated manual processes, leading to faster deployment and higher quality levels. With CI, developers submit their code every day to the repository. What is remarkable is that code is released live to customers in CD. With CI/CD, the deployment pipeline is a continuous, evolving and automated process.
Continuous Integration and Automated Testing
Automated testing goes a long way in speeding deployment time. With Continuous Integration, teams merge work early in the process and more often, almost every day. The idea is to achieve this integration more frequently and in small batches. Teams get a better perspective when they see their code live and they concentrate on writing code that matters, instead of wasting their time on manual deployment steps.
The risk here is that the code can fail if different teams are working on the same project and this is where automated testing comes in. With automated tests, there are fewer bugs in the code and fewer re-runs of each test.
With CI, code is automatically integrated into one single software release and helps developers release proper updates to code or application. CI is essential to create fully automated deployment lifecycles.
Releasing small changes frequently with Continuous Delivery
While Continuous Integration offers a layer of protection with its automated testing, Continuous Delivery releases small but frequent changes, reducing the risks associated with large-sized releases. In other words, CD is an automated process that implements all the approved changes to processes, features, code and configurations.
DevOps is largely an ongoing process and with CD, companies deliver changes and refinements in small batches. This means that if something doesn’t work, it can be rolled back without upsetting the rest of the pipeline. The idea is to fix bugs, reduce manual errors and downtime, make the feedback loop tighter, giving the end users a chance to drive the development of the product.
There are many benefits with CI/CD. The automation that CD brings reduces manual errors with releases and reduces downtime by making sure that unnecessary changes are not made and then rolled back. DevOps is as much about culture and mindset as it is about process and strategy. When engineers and developers move away from traditional siloed processes and repetitive tasks, they find more satisfaction in their work.
The biggest upside to a CI/CD solution is that there is faster delivery because of end-to-end automation. Automation also enables a company to achieve faster delivery and better quality at scale. CD ensures that when a bug happens, it is picked up and resolved immediately. This reduces the time wasted on manual testing or waiting for the deployments to finish.
Other deployment tools for DevOps
Apart from a CI/CD solution, many other tools under DevOps are great ways to speed up the deployment process and change the way a company runs Salesforce deployments. This is enabled by a special user interface with features that help teams make swift and significant changes. Some of these tools include:
Version Control refers to a source code management tool that is part of
the Salesforce DevOps development cycle. With the dynamic development cycle,
changes happen frequently and in small batches. Version control keeps track of
each change with a time stamp and also identifies the team making the changes
so that everyone is in sync with the development cycle. With this tool,
developers can build the code and add changes to the file archive and web
hosting facility repository, and test it without affecting the master branch.
Developers store code in repositories. When they make changes to these repositories, they have the option to clone them or even merge them. Such teams and collaborations are possible at scale due to version control.
Developers make changes and merge them into the master branch. This streamlines the Salesforce release process. Besides repositories, Salesforce sandboxes add another dimension to this process. Sandboxes are copies of databases. Developers use them to test out new ideas before finalising on a new functionality. There are many sandboxes and repositories for each team. This is where version control and management of sandboxes and repositories come in.
Version control has a huge impact on the speed of development and the frequency of the team’s releases. It also enables parallel development and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to fix bugs. There is less back and forth between all the teams. With Version Control, teams can test their changes to the code repository before the actual integration.
Many companies are opting for agile planning when it comes to their enterprise software. Agile planning ensures that teams can deliver small batches and suggestions.
This is a crucial part of software development when it comes to deploying Salesforce with DevOps. With automation, teams can test the changes by using automated testing and then merge them into the master or apply them to another environment. An agile DevOps setup can enable teams to get a bird’s eye view of code as they write it and to see if it works with their actual real-time data. With automated testing in Salesforce DevOps, teams can consistently check new code and make sure they are deploying products that the end users typically need.
Test Automation Tools
Automated testing will rule out problematic coding structures that give rise to errors. At the same time, tools like Static Code Analysis will make sure that these errors are fixed before they make it to the release stage. Static Code Analysis can identify errors in real-time and as they happen, so that you can fix them before they enter the Salesforce pipeline.
There are different types of testing in DevOps but for Salesforce, unit testing, integration testing and end-to-end testing fix teething issues and close critical feedback loops. Unit testing refers to validating individual units of the source code. Integration testing refers to testing components or modules of code so that they work together without problems. End-to-end testing refers to testing entire system to make sure everything is on track and the product satisfies the end users.
With technologies changing at an unprecedented pace, looking for a CI/CD platform that operates on multi-cloud is a good idea. After all, Salesforce is the pioneer of digital transformation and future-proofing CI/CD with a move to multi-cloud will benefit the company tremendously.
Rollback and Backup
Sometimes deployment does not work as well as it should! Rollback tools immediately call back or roll back the changes that caused a system failure or bugs.
Given the intense and dynamic level of collaboration with DevOps, backup tools are necessary. Backup tools run the gamut from data to metadata, and they enable teams to restore data at any point of time during deployments.
The importance of security and speed
With DevOps, companies should consider security and protection against cyber threats. It is important to test and code releases so that there are no data security hazards. Automation goes a long way in addressing these problems.
The Need for Salesforce DevOps Automation
With DevOps, Salesforce is able to elevate its release cadence. Automation is an important buzzword for Salesforce DevOps. There is another benefit to Salesforce DevOps automation. With so much information and data available today, the AIOps or Artificial Intelligence Operations can help cut through the data and separate the signal from the noise. When focusing on deployment, developers and DevOps engineers can make better decisions, especially with complex solutions. With Salesforce helming a digital revolution, companies shifting to online operations need to integrate DevOps and CI/CD to automate the manual aspects of the development-release cycle. This will help developers to put out more changes continuously and to ensure faster, more efficient software releases. With so many excellent Salesforce DevOps tools to choose from, companies can produce faster deployments, free up developer time so that they can give time to high-quality tasks and also develop new products quickly, thereby streamlining the entire process.
Abhishek Sivasubramanian works with Suyati as a Development Lead in Salesforce CRM & .NET Application Development. He is an International Speaker at world’s largest conferences like Dreamforce, IEEE and ICWS and has been a mentor for many newbies & professionals in IT Industry.