Last Updated on July 26, 2021 by Rakesh Gupta
One of the biggest challenges companies face is the difficulty of making changes safely and quickly to their IT systems. As companies move to becoming digital enterprises, more and more departments are building competency in creating and managing their own systems. This has led to the rise of low code platforms like Salesforce that allow people to customize and create applications even if they are not professional coders.
Importantly, companies these days are not just building applications from scratch. That makes less and less sense these days. Instead, companies are building on SaaS “clouds” that handle much of the underlying complexity. Even when we’re writing code, we’re running it on top of sophisticated applications like Salesforce, Heroku, Mulesoft, and SAP.
As these low code platforms become more sophisticated and complex, the need increases to ease the process of delivering updates. This is where low code DevOps platforms come in. Low-code teams need tools that are built for everyone on the team, not just professional coders. Not everyone on your team is comfortable on the command line. Not everyone on your team is comfortable resolving complicated Git merges. You can’t take tools and practices that were designed for custom-built applications and expect those to work for teams who are used to building on SaaS platforms.
A new generation of DevOps platforms is arising, specifically designed for low-code systems. The first of these, Copado, was originally built for Salesforce. But with its Summer 21 release, Copado is looking beyond just Salesforce, to technologies like SAP, Oracle, and Google Cloud. Most businesses don’t depend on just one cloud anymore. They depend on a multitude of clouds to fulfill different needs.
Scripts or Clicks
On many low code platforms, the scripts available for building DevOps solutions are limited in their capabilities, and require extensive work to create. At the same time, teams often don’t solve any unique problems with these scripts. Most teams find it more economical to buy commercial tools rather than to build their own.
Up until now, if you wanted to automatically run that kind of script or deploy applications to other clouds, you had to set up a separate continuous integration (CI) system. In addition to writing your own scripts, you had to provision the external CI system, manage it, and learn how to use it.
But in addition to being optimized for non-coders, Copado has recently built the first universal CI engine on the Salesforce platform — Copado Functions. Functions allow you to run any scripts you need without having to use an external CI tool like Jenkins, Bamboo, or Azure Pipelines.
Functions is the engine that powers the multi-cloud capabilities mentioned above. It’s an innovation engine that allows teams infinite flexibility in their development processes.
For many low code platforms like Salesforce there’s another whole category of applications that are clouds in their own right like Vlocity, nCino, Veeva, Salesforce CPQ, and Conga. These applications live on the Salesforce platform, but they’re highly configurable. In fact, they can be so configurable that they include thousands of options that can be combined in infinite ways.
This configuration is stored as collections of related data records that allow you to fully customize the applications. You can turn capabilities on or off, provide underlying information about behavior, and even customize the user interface just using data.
But the challenge when you’re working with a very complex application like Salesforce CPQ is that it’s quite risky to make changes directly in production because you are potentially impacting the ability of your company to sell. I’ve heard stories where people accidentally applied 90% discounts to a product just by changing configuration; and the error wasn’t discovered for weeks afterwards. So these configuration heavy applications require proper testing just as much as any other custom application. This means you need both a development and a test environment to make changes, and this means you need to be able to deploy the data between environments.
The final capability needed for a low-code DevOps platform is the ability to deploy configuration that is stored as complex relational data. Copado Data Deploy is an example of a tool optimized for deploying configuration data as part of the development lifecycle. It also allows teams to export, import, and track that data in version control.
Importantly, you don’t have to get started from scratch. There are pre-built templates for apps like nCino, Veeva, Salesforce CPQ, and Conga.
Software development is becoming both more complex and more democratized. At the same time, competitive pressure continues to push for faster and more reliable delivery of changes. A new generation of DevOps platforms like Copado are arising to address the needs of low code teams. These platforms default to providing an easy-to-understand user interface, while at the same time allowing for the execution of custom scripts when appropriate.
About the author
Andrew Davis is a Senior Director of Product Marketing for Copado, the leading DevOps platform for Salesforce.
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