Introduction to Integration

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When you implement Salesforce (or take over an existing implementation), you often need to integrate Salesforce with other systems. In this blog, we will discuss What integration means, Why customers choose to use integration tools, and How you can get started with integration. This blog is meant to act as an introductory guide to the tools available and to provide an overview that will help you get started with exploring the right integration solution for you.

What does integration mean?

When we talk about integration, it means to create a connection between a specific Salesforce instance and another database or system. The connection could be inbound, outbound, or bi-directional, and you may be connecting to another database, another Salesforce instance, or another cloud-based data source. Integrations can be focused on sharing data between systems, or continuing a business process automation from one system to another.

Why do customers integrate Salesforce?

Salesforce is a very powerful tool because it helps companies to create a 360-degree view of their customers and their business. Integrations with additional databases can bring even more value and information into your Salesforce environment. As Salesforce Admins, we can make important data accessible to our end users, and we are often in the position to make decisions about what integrations would benefit our company. Here, we will discuss some of the most common use cases for integration.

Bringing External Data Into Salesforce

A very common integration use case is exposing data from an external system inside of your Salesforce environment. This approach can help establish Salesforce as the single source of truth for your company data.

Referencing external data inside of Salesforce

Although this use case sounds similar to the one listed above, it is slightly different. You may want to centralize your user experience on Salesforce, but not import and manage that data inside of Salesforce. In this use case, your users can be informed and act on records from other systems, without the data management overhead of importing and managing potential data replication issues.

Transform and enrich Salesforce data

In this use case, you are developing and executing complex queries on Salesforce data. With the power and flexibility of the Salesforce Platform, many customers are able to accomplish data transformation with fewer resource demands.

Extract insights from Salesforce and external data

Consolidate your data from Salesforce and external systems for comprehensive analytics. In this use case, you may want to centralize all of your data onto Salesforce and use Salesforce tools to augment and manage your data.

Salesforce multi-org consolidation

Some of our customers have many Salesforce environments and want to consolidate the data for consistency across channels — and build custom apps and experiences that leverage all of their Salesforce data.

Data integration/sync data across non-Salesforce systems

This use case is applicable if you have a collection of disconnected cloud and/or on-premise systems that need to share data with one another. There are data integration use cases across systems that do not include Salesforce, however the tools we will be highlighting today will be focused on solutions for Salesforce integrations.

Publish/subscribe integration model

For scalable integration patterns that will grow with your data structure, some customers leverage an event-driven architecture to integrate across their systems. When events in one system take place, other relevant systems should be able to immediately recognize those events and carry out subsequent actions, such as updating a case or restocking inventory.

Third-party application needs to integrate with Salesforce environment

In this scenario, there is a business need to make your Salesforce data or processes available to external or third-party systems.

What tools does Salesforce have for integration?

Now that we have identified some of the business use cases for integration, and what integration means, let’s identify the tools you can choose from. There are several alternatives and choices available to use — this list is meant to provide some initial guidance on which tools to explore for your use case. Many of these tools can be used together to design a complete integration solution for your business use case. Some integration solutions do require programmatic development initially; however, they can often then be extended within Salesforce with declarative tools like Flow.

Admin/No-code Low-code tools

  • MuleSoft Composer: MuleSoft Composer is accessed as an app in Lightning App Launcher where you use clicks to compose connected integration flows between Salesforce and external systems like Workday, NetSuite, Slack, and more.
  • Private Connect: Private Connect directly connects Salesforce first-party data centers and Amazon Web Services regions. It allows for secure, private communication across clouds. After you create a private connection between your Salesforce org and your data hosted within AWS, you can easily route HTTP/s traffic through, shielding it from public internet threats.

Mixed build (Code required, but low/no-code management)

  • Platform Events: Integrate real-time across any business process with an event-driven architecture. Use event-driven workflows to augment your data.
  • Change Data Capture: Replicates data without custom code so you can keep external systems in sync when Salesforce data changes.
  • Salesforce Flow: Connect your flow to an external database with Platform Events, external objects, Lightning Components, Enhanced External Services, or Apex.
  • Salesforce Connect: Offers low-code data integration without data import. The data never leaves source systems, but you can create and change the external data right in Salesforce.
  • External Services: Connect Salesforce to external business actions and build process integrations without custom code. Any external business logic with an OpenAPI definition can be invoked with Apex or Lightning Flow.

Developer tools

  • Apex: Apex Callouts enable you to integrate your Apex code with an external callout. This means you can fetch external data to display inside of Salesforce. Can be combined with Flow for powerful automation.
  • Platform APIs: Provides programmatic access to all of your Salesforce data. Allows you to customize and control the Salesforce experience by augmenting interfaces, workflows, and metadata for your business use case. Every part of Salesforce, from data to metadata, is accessible programmatically through APIs.
  • MuleSoft Anypoint Platform: MuleSoft Anypoint Platform is an integration and API platform that allows customers to connect their data, devices, and customers, and abstract away the complexity of backend systems and processes, front-ending them with scalable, governable, and reusable APIs.
  • Heroku Connect: Heroku is a managed platform built on AWS that is ideal for app development in any language, is highly available, and has push-button connectivity with Salesforce. Heroku Postgres is a highly scalable database that can be deployed easily and managed without significant overhead, allowing for data sync and transformations but without the integration/API management capabilities and prebuilt connectors found on MuleSoft.

Get started with integration

Salesforce Admins are at the heart of the user experience. You build pages, apps, data structures, automation, analytics, and more to bring your users the business processes and data they need to be successful. Integration design follows many of the same principles you have mastered as an admin: Discovery, Documentation, Innovation, and Collaboration. Take the first step by learning more about Salesforce integration solutions and how they can help you build immersive experiences for your users.

Watch the Trailhead LIVE Episode for more information on how to get started.

 

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