Enterprise Developer Takeaways from Salesforce Dreamforce

Charlotte Dunlap – Principal Analyst, Application Platforms

Summary Bullets:

• MuleSoft’s ability to provide integration with non-Salesforce applications and systems keeps Salesforce Platform relevant

• Salesforce continues to build on Einstein momentum, providing developers with new voice opportunities in AI

Now that the dust has settled in downtown San Francisco and the 170,000-strong mob of Dreamforce attendees have gone home, enterprise developers and DevOps teams can reflect upon Salesforce’s latest platform strategy and announcements. With that in mind, we’ve honed in on the top three developer takeaways from last week’s mega conference.

1. MuleSoft’s ability to provide integration with non-Salesforce applications and systems keeps Salesforce Platform relevant.

At the forefront of Salesforce’s developer news last week are ambitious plans to integrate MuleSoft into its SaaS and PaaS offerings. Salesforce acquired the mature integration vendor earlier this year to serve as the integration layer to its newly consolidated Salesforce Platform. Such a move ensures that Salesforce remains competitive and relevant by providing enterprises with continuous delivery capabilities and the ability to access disparate apps and systems as customers forge ahead with business transformation projects.

MuleSoft’s mature SOA and integration platform lets enterprises productize APIs for consumption through self-service integration and collaboration across businesses. MuleSoft helps Salesforce to provide platforms for building application networks that connect enterprise apps, data and devices across multiple clouds and on-premises. Enabling technology includes Salesforce Connect, which uses OData OSS technology to represent disparate endpoints as a custom object. MuleSoft Anypoint makes APIs and integration more consumable through development technologies, namely an improved UI and reusable APIs, which are auto-populated. Not surprisingly, Salesforce plans to use the integration technology to bridge its cloud services—Service, Commerce, and Marketing Clouds—and the company’s Heroku engineering team is also looking at the technology to support shared identity, data, and network services to build connected apps.

2. Salesforce articulated progress in modernizing Salesforce Platform via DX updates, hooks to popular serverless technologies, and new OSS technology which ensures multi-language support.

A number of advanced developer initiatives came to light during Dreamforce. Salesforce Platform has undergone key integrations and evolutions over the past 18 months. These include various consolidations of flagship platforms including Force.com, Lightning, and Heroku Enterprise, respectively, to build connected apps. Salesforce Platform has also increased capabilities for offering mobile app development services to both developers and non-developers, enhanced through a new Apple partnership announcement last week, providing Salesforce developers with best practices around Swift and Xcode app development. And it has simplified backend integration with external systems via Salesforce Connect.

Salesforce is also working closely with Microsoft on the cross-platform code and language server protocol VSCode, important because the technology is increasingly being embraced by the OSS community, including Red Hat. It is also building out a language service interface for Lightning services to embrace developers’ use of various languages.

During keynotes and floor exhibits, Salesforce provided demonstrations of enhanced DX, its source-driven development experience, which externalizes source metadata, enabling the support of various open development tools to ease collaboration. For example, leveraging DX, Salesforce presented a demo which spun up a Lightning sandbox in just five minutes.

Serverless computing will be supported by Salesforce in the form of Platform Events, announced last year and now generally available. Platform Events is its brand and mechanism for running and operating serverless technology including AWS Lambda as well as Heroku Dynos (containers), and likely others in the future. It streams changes in real time with the ability to scale high volume events. Salesforce leverages this same architecture for Customer 360 and its IoT Platform.

3. Salesforce continues to build on Einstein momentum, providing developers with new voice opportunities in AI.

After expanding the Einstein Analytics platform earlier this year through a new feature called Conversational Queries for easing business users’ interactions with enterprise data, last week Salesforce announced new Einstein voice capabilities. The new voice technology allows users to talk to Salesforce apps through any device to enhance customer engagement, under the brand Einstein Voice Assist (mobile apps) and Einstein Voice Bots (administrators). The bots can be deployed on Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The announcement builds on a partnership with Google launched late last year in which integration between the Salesforce CRM platform and Google Analytics gives sales and marketing personnel access to significant customer intelligence, although little was mentioned on this partnership this week.

The latest announcement supports Salesforce’s efforts to continually improve and ease app development around its core platforms. Recognizing the increasingly complex technology and architectures accompanying a new DevOps model, Salesforce’s emphasis is on Lightning for reducing coding requirements and enhancing workflow automation. Beyond that, the company highlights as its leading app development innovations: Heroku Pro-code tools, Heroku Enterprise platform services, Heroku Postgres, and Heroku Elements, enabling quick app builds under this architecture, leveraging the Data Navigation user console and Heroku Connect. All of its platform services will be significantly improved through MuleSoft’s integration platform.

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