Salesforce is trying to democratize integration by creating a service that the average user of Salesforce applications could easily use, says Scott Holden, vice president of platform marketing at Salesforce.
Holden says that as part of the service — which is compatible with cloud integration services provided by Informatica, Jitterbit, MuleSoft, Progress Software, SnapLogic and Software AG — Salesforce has developed an external data virtualization capability that allows data stored in an external system to be invoked as just another object within a Salesforce1 application.
Designed to be an integration service that complements the Salesforce1 Lightning rapid application development environment, the first implementation of that data visualization capability is manifesting itself on the Heroku platform-as-a-service environment that Salesforce also owns, Holden says. Third-party integration services can then be separately used to access data stored in legacy applications.
With the launch of Salesforce1 Lightning Connect, Salesforce has become one of the first providers of integration software to embrace the OData protocol in a production environment. That capability was critical to being able to layer an integration service that was simple enough for end users to invoke on top of the Salesforce1 Platform, says Holden.
As data becomes simpler to integrate, the role of the professional developer is clearly starting to evolve. While professional developers are still needed for complex projects, many data integration projects are now falling into the province of so called “citizen integrators.” The challenge many organizations face is trying to figure out where to draw the line between projects that a citizen integrator could drive and those that still require the skills of a professional developer.
Salesforce says 1.8 million developers have already created some 4 million applications on the Salesforce1 Platform. In addition, more than 4,100 customers who took part in a recent study reported on average 52% faster application deployment, 50% faster new application design, 52% faster application configuration and a 42% decrease in IT cost using the Salesforce1 Platform.
In addition, Holden notes that about half the transactions being processed on the Salesforce1 Platform now come through APIs, which he says is indicative of the existence of a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem.
Salesforce has emerged as an ecosystem that has attained critical mass in the age of the cloud. About the only thing that remains to be seen is the degree to which developers and integrators continue to extend that ecosystem using a declarative programming model that is increasingly accessible to almost anyone.