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What originally began as a customer relationship management (CRM) system has evolved into a software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) system.
Salesforce’s cloud-computing solutions integrate predictive intelligence and development capabilities via proprietary platforms, including Einstein and Lightning.
It doesn’t stop there. Users also benefit from marketing tools and customized applications, all available at an affordable subscription rate. Salesforce’s robust features and cost-effectiveness lead back to its unique framework.
Let’s dive into Salesforce architecture, its application programming interfaces (APIs), the multitenant environment and more.
Salesforce system architecture all starts in the cloud, but this isn’t as nebulous as it sounds. It simply means the system can be accessed by anyone with login credentials from any spot with an internet connection.
In years past, anything information technology-related was done on premise. Companies needed to buy software to install on computers, purchase a database and buy servers as well as a physical space to house the hardware. They also needed a CRM, the setting up of which typically required a significant investment of time and money. If businesses wanted to develop solutions on top of the CRM, that required additional components. The process was anything but simple.
Today, cloud-based Salesforce architecture handles all of the infrastructure and maintenance, eliminating the overhead associated with on-premise solutions. Instead, Salesforce subscribers are provided a database and servers at a cost per license or user. Companies can then develop their own applications, customized to meet their needs.
Salesforce integrates seamlessly with third-party apps, too (e.g., accounting software, email programs) a feature that is difficult to come by with other CRMs.
What’s more, setting up and implementing Salesforce is faster than typical CRMs. Salesforce can be deployed in weeks compared with the months or years it could take to set up a CRM system. On average, companies using Salesforce platforms see 56% faster deployment, according to the software company.
All of these features allow companies to focus more of their attention on business (and less on technology).
Diving deeper into the cloud infrastructure brings us to the concept of a multitenant environment. Salesforce describes this best, comparing it to a secure apartment building with many individual homes. We can think of this in Salesforce terms as “instances.”
In multitenancy architecture, many instances are housed on one server. All clients within an instance share the building’s resources and database, though all customer-specific data is siloed. Each instance is kept secure with encryption keys that are organization-specific and all instances are continually upgraded to benefit from the latest features and bug fixes.
Multitenant architecture in Salesforce can result in thousands of customers per instance with more than 50 production instances per cloud. Additionally, there are many Salesforce servers located throughout the world, each housing different instances.
Now let’s take a look at the components that make up Salesforce:
Each server maintains sufficient room to allow each instance the ability to scale. Salesforce’s metadata platform also simplifies collaboration, workflows and analytics.
Think about your Salesforce Accounts and Contacts tabs. These are examples of objects in Salesforce and you can compare these objects to data tables. They each have fields for entry, or metadata — data about data.
Metadata allows users to customize their Salesforce and create a unique structure of information. Metadata also can refer to page layouts and security settings. When a user looks at a Salesforce page, the system pulls information from the metadata cache to create a page, recompiling hypertext markup language (HTML) each time a page is loaded.
APIs are programming components that facilitate connectivity and data communication between different devices and applications. Simply put, it’s the way apps speak with each other. Robust APIs are very important for pushing and exchanging data between systems.
Consider the applications you use frequently. Whether it’s a retail, dining or hotel application, you need to go through a series of steps. For example, you might need to make a reservation or place an order, you might want to check the status of your order after you submitted it or you might want to access a map or review feature. These actions all require the use of APIs to communicate with each other.
Whenever Salesforce is used, APIs are being engaged. You can thank API-enabled data and metadata for the flexibility and creative solutions Salesforce offers. Salesforce’s cloud application architecture can be supported by APIs such as standard HTTP SOAP (simple object access protocol) and REST (representational state transfer). Additionally, Salesforce1 is the platform that allows you to develop applications and exchange data via Salesforce APIs.
Many partners contribute to the creation and maintenance of the Salesforce enterprise ecosystem. Salesforce users can search for partner programs to complement their business operations. For example, one part of the ecosystem is AppExchange, which offers more than 2,700 ready-to-install applications that integrate easily with Salesforce.
The Salesforce CRM stores contact and activity information on prospects and clients and provides real-time analytics. The platform can monitor contact emails, telephone calls, website visits and more. All of this information provides insights into marketing techniques that could prove most valuable in reaching a contact.
Additionally, the Salesforce CRM connects users within an organization. They can monitor data specific to prospects, opportunities, closed sales, revenue and more. Features such as Chatter provide a layer of internal knowledge sharing and collaboration, allowing employees to post comments or questions to one or more specific individuals and viewable by all users.
According to Salesforce, companies using their CRM see a 34% average increase in customer satisfaction, a 32% increase in lead conversion and a 27% jump in sales.
Salesforce has various clouds and applications designed to track sales, monitor performance, analyze data, connect with customers and more.
Sales Cloud houses client information and boasts features specific to sales, lead generation and marketing, whether your focus is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. The system allows you to clearly see what’s in your pipeline and what actions have been taken with each prospect.
Use Salesforce’s digital marketing platform to manage your content, social media, mobile, email efforts and more. Also benefit from personalization features, buyer journey management and comprehensive data analytics.
This product is specific to customer service and support teams and allows agents to easily track customer cases. In addition to live 1-on-1 support, clients can take advantage of chatbots, customer self-service portals and real-time social media interactions.
Build personalized sites and forums with pre-built templates tailored for specific use cases and pre-built themes (or customize your own). You can build your content, create personalized portals for your clients or self-service communities where customers can help each other. CRM-powered components and apps can be installed, too.
Salesforce Analytics Cloud allows users to get custom analytics apps and is easily integrated with other Salesforce clouds. Users can review data from internal and external sources, identify trends and key performance indicators, generate reports, view recommended actions and more.
Make custom applications for your Salesforce platform using a collection of development tools for website development, development testing and more. Choose from Force.com, Heroku, Salesforce Thunder or Salesforce Sandbox, among others. AppExchange also is part of the app cloud and specific to third-party applications that run on the Force.com platform.
Commerce Cloud allows users to create consistent shopping and client experiences across all commerce points, from in-store to online. Personalize the customer experience, manage orders and service customers while staying up to date on business performance in real time.
When you hear the phrase Internet of Things (IoT), think of everything that’s connected to the web – smart devices, apps, websites, internet-enabled sensors and more – including all of the data that flows through it. A Salesforce IoT cloud combines data processing and analytics. It gathers online information from customers and partners and provides real-time interactions and personalized user engagement.
Salesforce architecture layers one component atop of another:
Organizations across sectors employ Salesforce architecture — from government, financial services, manufacturing, technology, health care and communications. Here are a couple of use case examples.
Intuit, the parent business of QuickBooks, TurboTax and Quicken, had 9 CRMs across the company. It decided to streamline and organize operations and turned to Salesforce Service to better understand its customers. Agents using the platform can see what products customers have reviewed and co-browse with them to provide the most optimal level of assistance.
With the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, GE Capital has shortened the time it takes to gain insights into enterprise and customer data. Thanks to mobile responsiveness, agents are able to view analytics on the go, make comments and edit reporting capabilities. The company has been able to integrate various technologies and channels in the cloud. Additionally, using Marketing Cloud, GE Capital is able to maintain customer connections with targeted communications.
An application is a collection of tabs and objects. While Salesforce comes with preset applications, you could create your own or install some through Salesforce AppExchange.
To create an app in Salesforce using Salesforce Admin or Developer, turn to the customization links in the left-hand column. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, enter your search term in the Quick Find or global Salesforce Search bar. You also can view your existing apps by clicking the top far right-hand drop-down menu.
If you would like to change any preset standard object or functionality, you’ll need to use the Customize feature in the left-hand column instead.
Salesforce shares some similarities with enterprise web application architecture, which brings together a series of back-end interactions between a server, browser and user interface so that a user can load a webpage.
With enterprise web application architecture, a server-side code responds to the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) request and a client-side code responds to the user’s input. Collected data from the user is sent as a request to the backend, which sends a response to the front-end that is displayed as a result for the user.
There are several different types of enterprise web application architecture: single-page applications, microservices and serverless architecture.
It’s no surprise that Salesforce has been ranked a top CRM platform, surpassing SAP, Oracle and Microsoft in terms of market share. More than 150,000 companies worldwide use the software, including Automatic Data Processing (ADP), American Express, CareerBuilder and Ticketmaster.
Today, businesses looking for a robust CRM can turn to the cloud-based Salesforce architecture, which touts simplicity, speed, efficiency, security and scalability.