A comprehensive guide to Salesforce DevOps 2024

We are in the last quarter of 2024, and Salesforce continues to stay on top as one of the most popular CRM platforms. But it's no secret that Salesforce had a long history of development and deployment issues.

  • Published 11 Oct 2023
  • 15 mins read
A comprehensive guide to Salesforce DevOps 2024
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Article highlights

  • Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) strategies are central, enhancing delivery speed and reliability of new features and updates to Salesforce applications.
  • Version control, particularly using Git, plays a critical role in maintaining systematic record of changes, essential for seamless collaboration and quality assurance in Salesforce development.
  • The automation of testing using tools like Selenium helps ensure the quality and reliability of Salesforce applications, speeding up development cycles and reducing potential errors.

This is where Salesforce DevOps comes into play, offering a comprehensive solution to enhance the software development lifecycle on the Salesforce platform.

In this article, we'll explore Salesforce DevOps in depth, from its definition and importance to its benefits, tools, and real-world implementation. If you're a business owner using Salesforce or a Salesforce Developer, read this article till the end.

What is DevOps?

 

Before we get on with Salesforce DevOps, you must first understand the broader concept of DevOps. DevOps is a set of practices and principles that bridge the processes between development and IT operations.

DevOps is about making the development and operations teams work together better. Instead of working separately, these teams work together to make processes more efficient. This results in faster, more reliable software releases.

The word DevOps comes from a mixture of development and operations. With DevOps, code changes are tested and deployed automatically, reducing errors and speeding up new features and updates.

Key DevOps principles include:

  • Automation: Automation of repetitive tasks to minimize errors and speed up processes.
  • Collaboration: Promote communication and collaboration between development and operations teams.
  • Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD): Enabling frequent code integration, automated testing, and faster deployment.
  • Monitoring and feedback: Continuous tracking of applications in production to gather feedback for ongoing improvements.

Bringing DevOps to Salesforce

First, think of Salesforce DevOps as the same as the actual DevOps. Salesforce DevOps is the application of DevOps principles to the Salesforce ecosystem. We know how Salesforce is critical to many businesses, and any issue in the development and deployment process can lead to disruptions and delays.

The whole point of having Salesforce DevOps is to ensure that Salesforce Admins and Developers can make changes and deploy updates efficiently, with minimal disruptions. This includes detecting bugs and security issues, fixing them before releases, safeguarding data and metadata, and deploying efficiently.

Why is Salesforce DevOps important?

Salesforce DevOps delivers value to users faster and with fewer headaches. It plays a vital role in easing the development and deployment process.

Here are a few reasons why Salesforce DevOps is important:

Accelerated time-to-market 

Salesforce DevOps practices reduce the time to introduce new features to end-users. This includes faster testing and deployment of Salesforce applications. This changes the need to work with change sets, which is time-consuming.

Enhanced collaboration

Salesforce DevOps encourages collaboration and knowledge-sharing between development and operations teams. This leads to improved application quality by breaking down silos.

Error reduction

DevOps practices automate repetitive tasks, minimizing human errors and lowering the risk of costly downtime or data loss.

Continuous improvement

Salesforce DevOps nurtures a culture of continuous improvement by gathering feedback and using it to refine processes, leading to better outcomes and satisfied users.

Cost efficiency

Practices like efficient resource usage and automation reduce operational costs. This amplifies the return on investment (ROI) from Salesforce implementations.

Security and compliance

Salesforce DevOps integrates security and compliance requirements into the development process, reducing vulnerabilities and the risk of data breaches.

Principles and implementation of Salesforce DevOps

Salesforce DevOps principles are not just theoretical concepts. These practical guidelines help businesses achieve efficient, collaborative, automated Salesforce development and deployment processes.

Better team collaboration

Effective collaboration between the development and IT operations teams is the cornerstone of Salesforce DevOps. It involves breaking down silos between development, operations, and other relevant teams.

When cross-functional teams collaborate efficiently, it leads to better outcomes for Salesforce projects. Effective collaboration includes open communication, shared responsibilities, and a collective commitment to project success.

Version control

Version control is a critical aspect of Salesforce DevOps that allows organizations to track changes to Salesforce configurations and code systematically. We all know how important it is to maintain code history in a development process.

Keeping a record of changes helps with code reviews and allows us to go back to previous versions in case of discrepancies. Git, as a widely adopted version control system, plays a central role in achieving this.

Enabling CI/CD

Continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) are essential practices in Salesforce DevOps. CI involves the frequent integration of code changes into a shared repository. This ensures that the codebase remains consistent and stable.

CD automates the process of releasing validated changes into production swiftly and reliably. These practices reduce manual errors, enhance code quality, and speed up the delivery of new features to end-users.

Testing automation

Automated testing is crucial for Salesforce DevOps. It guarantees the reliability and quality of Salesforce apps. It also encompasses various types of testing, including unit, integration, and user acceptance testing.

Selenium is a tool used to automate user interface testing. It helps find issues and regressions quickly. By automating testing, organizations can expedite the feedback loop and identify and resolve issues promptly.

Monitoring and feedback

Continuous monitoring of Salesforce applications in production is a vital practice in Salesforce DevOps. It involves collecting data on application performance, errors, and user behavior.

Organizations can use this feedback loop to solve problems, improve performance, and deliver better user experience. Effective monitoring identifies problems and continuously improves the application based on user feedback and data-driven insights.

Salesforce DevOps tools

The world of Salesforce DevOps comes with various tools that enhance the development and deployment processes. These tools are categorized into several types. Each contributes to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Salesforce DevOps initiatives.

What are Salesforce DevOps tools?

Salesforce DevOps tools are software solutions that help make Salesforce application development easier. These tools do various jobs like keeping track of changes, automating tasks, testing, and managing releases.

Examples include Salesforce CLI and DX for development, Git for tracking changes, Jenkins for automating tasks, and Selenium for testing.

Let us look at categories and underlying tools one-by-one.

Development and coding tools

Salesforce CLI (command line interface)

Salesforce CLI allows Developers to interact with Salesforce organizations through the command line. It provides a comprehensive set of commands for managing metadata, data, and deployments.

Developers can use it to create and manage Salesforce applications, execute Apex code, and efficiently retrieve and deploy metadata changes.

Salesforce DX (Developer Experience)

Salesforce DX is a development framework designed to simplify the Salesforce development process. SFDX introduces development practices, like source-driven development, scratch orgs, and version control integration. These practices make it easier to manage Salesforce code and configurations.

The combination of Visual Studio Code and its Salesforce Extensions is a boon for Salesforce Developers. This allows Developers to write, test, and deploy Salesforce code.

In short, these tools enhance the development process, offering features like code management, version control, and debugging capabilities, ultimately resulting in faster and more efficient development.

Version control and collaboration tools

Git is the backbone of version control, allowing teams to track changes to code and configurations. It allows team collaboration, facilitates code reviews, and maintains a history of changes, making it easier for teams to work together effectively.

When it comes to Git-based development, a tool like Hutte, for example, makes it easy for every member of the team to work with scratch orgs and sandboxes – without learning Git and using the command line.

These platforms offer hosting and collaboration features for Git repositories. An example would be Hutte Recipes on GitHub. They are a collection of easy-to-digest code examples and extensions to perform various Salesforce actions through Hutte or on your chosen CI/CD platform.

As you can see, this provides a central hub for teams to collaborate on code, manage issues, and automate workflows, further enhancing collaboration and code quality.

Version control and collaboration tools enable admin and development teams to work cohesively on Salesforce projects, reducing conflicts, promoting code quality, and providing a structured way to manage changes.

Automation and CI/CD tools

Jenkins is a popular open-source automation server often used to create robust CI/CD pipelines for Salesforce applications. It automates building, testing, and deploying Salesforce code and configurations, promoting efficiency and reliability.

These cloud-based continuous integration platforms automate the building and testing of Salesforce applications. They are handy for small to medium sized organizations looking for hassle-free CI/CD solutions.

These Salesforce DevOps platforms offer comprehensive automation capabilities for managing the entire application delivery lifecycle. They provide features like version control integration, automated testing, and release management, streamlining the entire process.

A fresh approach: Hutte and open-source

Using Git for metadata management provides numerous opportunities to leverage open-source for various types of automation, such as running quality checks or automating deployments when a pull request is merged. A good starting point is Hutte Recipes, which are publicly available and can be accessed inside Hutte.

These recipes benefit from Salesforce's open-source initiatives like "dx@scale" (recently rebranded as "flxbl"), SFDMU, and Salesforce Code Analyzer. They provide step-by-step instructions on how to use these resources in your projects.

Automation and CI/CD tools eliminate manual tasks, reduce human errors, and enable the rapid and reliable deployment of Salesforce applications, resulting in faster time-to-market and higher-quality releases.

Testing and quality assurance tools

Selenium is an open-source testing framework that automates web application testing. It can be utilized to automate user interface testing for Salesforce applications, ensuring that they function correctly and reliably.

Salesforce's native Apex unit testing framework allows Developers to write and execute unit tests to verify the functionality of their Apex code. It's integral to maintaining code quality and ensuring that changes do not introduce regressions.

Testing tools help organizations maintain the quality and reliability of Salesforce applications, reducing the risk of defects and improving the user experience.

Now, let's look at a few more extended Salesforce DevOps tools for better performance.

Monitoring and feedback tools

Salesforce Health Check is an internal tool that provides insights into the health and performance of Salesforce instances. It helps organizations proactively identify and address issues, ensuring that applications run smoothly.

Event Monitoring in Salesforce offers detailed insights into user activities, security events, and application performance. It allows organizations to monitor and analyze user behavior, security threats, and application performance issues.

Monitoring and feedback tools provide real-time visibility into application performance, user behavior, and security, enabling organizations to detect and address issues promptly and make data-driven improvements.

Environment management tools

Salesforce provides different sandboxes (Developer, Developer Pro, Partial, Full, and more) for creating isolated and reproducible testing environments. These sandboxes help organizations maintain separate development, testing, and production environments.

Scratch orgs are temporary and disposable Salesforce environments that can be created and discarded quickly. They are ideal for short-term development and testing tasks and are managed using Salesforce DX.

Environment management tools enable organizations to maintain controlled and isolated environments for development, testing, and production, ensuring that changes are thoroughly tested before deployment.

Security and compliance tools

Salesforce Shield is a suite of security and compliance tools that provide enhanced security features, such as event monitoring, field audit trails, and encryption. It helps organizations meet regulatory requirements and secure sensitive data.

Third-party security scanners

Various third-party security scanning tools are available to assess the security of Salesforce applications. These tools identify vulnerabilities and help organizations address security issues proactively.

Security and compliance tools ensure that Salesforce applications adhere to security standards, safeguard sensitive data, and meet regulatory requirements.

Salesforce DevOps best practices

Now that you've got a grip on what DevOps is and the key components that make it work, let's dive into some of the top practices that are crucial in DevOps.

Smart environment strategy

When it comes to DevOps in Salesforce, figuring out your environment strategy is a big deal. Start by considering the size of your team, how often you release updates, and whether you're following an Agile development approach. Plus, remember to explore sandbox design strategies.

Your branching strategy

Once your environment strategy is in place, the next step is creating a branching strategy for Salesforce. This strategy is about managing and merging your code across different environments.

Build or buy dilemma

Do you want to use pre-built AppExchange products? Opt for third-party tools or try out open-source solutions to build your deployment. That depends on factors like your client's budget, the tools you already have in your kit, your in-house expertise, and more.

Release management

One of the pillars of DevOps is having a well-defined release management process. This process ensures that changes are rolled out systematically and efficiently, reducing the chances of errors and bottlenecks.

Using scratch orgs as ephemeral environments for experimenting, developing, testing, and even running demos is a great win.

Matthias Rolke

Freelance DevOps Consultant
Hutte

Source: Hutte

Fast-track your development

Salesforce DevOps, its tools, and practices are a boon for Salesforce Developers fast-tracking the development processes. As we approach 2024, we see a broad acceptance of Salesforce DevOps tools in development and deployment practices.

Salesforce DevOps is the key to efficient development, deployment, and collaboration between Dev and ITOps teams on the Salesforce platform.

The significance of Salesforce DevOps lies in its ability to accelerate time-to-market, enhance collaboration, reduce errors, and promote security and compliance.

Looking forward to 2024, adopting best practices, like thoughtful environment planning, branching strategies, efficient release management, and the right tool choices will be essential. These practices will ensure the timely and smooth delivery of the Salesforce experience for your users.

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Spring Release Notes Box
Spring Release Updates
Enhanced Automation Capabilities
The Spring Release further integrates automation into Salesforce DevOps, making it easier to manage workflows and processes, particularly in the context of continuous integration and deployment.
Improved Collaboration Tools
New collaboration features facilitate better communication and integration among teams, which is essential for effective DevOps practices.
Advanced Security Features
The release includes updates to security protocols, ensuring that DevOps practices not only enhance efficiency but also maintain high standards of data protection and compliance.
Increased Efficiency in Development and Operations
The introduction of new tools and enhancements of existing ones in the Spring Release aims to streamline the development and operations cycle, reducing time-to-market and increasing overall productivity.

Last updated: 12 Jun 2024