IT Science Case Study: Using DevOps to Extend Salesforce

eWEEK IT SCIENCE: KUKA needed a solution that would both accelerate its software release process and improve the quality of its Salesforce releases. Copado was the answer.

Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.

Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.

These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.

Today’s Topic: Using DevOps to Extend SalesForce

Name the problem to be solved:

KUKA is a multi-billion dollar global automation corporation, operating in 40+ countries with more than 14,000 employees. The company’s intelligent automation solutions include everything from robots and cells to fully automated systems and their networking, and are used in industries such as automotive, electronics, general industry, consumer goods, e-commerce/retail and healthcare. 

To effectively operate at a global scale, KUKA uses Salesforce, the world’s No. 1 CRM platform, to streamline its business processes. Yet, the company was struggling with deployment issues. KUKA needed a solution that would both accelerate their release process and improve the quality of their Salesforce releases. The team wanted to automate parts of the release process, improve quality control and increase release velocity. To do so effectively, they also needed a single source of truth, which was lacking in the Salesforce environment and resulted in frequent overwrites. KUKA needed visibility and transparency to improve their Salesforce release process.

Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution:

Realizing that their Salesforce implementation needed a DevOps methodology, KUKA began looking at DevOps solutions that would help address these issues specifically for Salesforce.  KUKA selected Copado, a native DevOps platform for Salesforce, over other vendors for two  specific reasons. First, Copado’s native functionality meant that the team could begin working in the solution immediately. Secondly, Copado’s integration with common third-party DevOps tools, such as JIRA, allowed KUKA to seamlessly integrate all their current work directly into the new platform.

List the key components in the solution:

The Copado DevOps platform is a 100% native Salesforce solution in which all key DevOps functions and processes are seamlessly integrated, manual tasks are automated or minimized, and the team and management get complete visibility of all the release pipelines and associated data across the DevOps cycle. The platform includes Agile Planning, Release Management and Compliance and Testing. Copado seamlessly integrates with all Salesforce orgs, metadata and APIs – based on Salesforce’s enterprise class security, performance and scale. 

Specific features:

  • DevOps Orchestration
  • Proxy Agent
  • Merge Engines
  • Security/Auth (OAuth 2.0 Support)
  • Process Builder
  • Webhooks
  • Job Scheduling
  • Global Find and Replace
  • Alerts and Notifications
  • Dashboard and Reports
  • Production Environments
  • Profiles
  • Permission Sets
  • Page Layouts
  • Roles
  • Metadata XML

Describe how the deployment went, how long it took, and if it came off as planned:

As soon as KUKA implemented Copado, the team began to see an immediate lift and impact. KUKA began with the Copado-JIRA integration in order to get all their JIRA user stories synced to create user stories in Copado. As a result, they began to change their process, as individual code or metadata changes no longer needed to be manually named on the JIRA user stories, as Copado took care of this automatically by having each user story represent any changes due to metadata. This immediately saved the team countless hours that had previously been spent manually tracking. In addition, the “add metadata” functionality now references the named component and the component itself gets automatically retrieved from the org. This meant that the team now has an overview of all touched components and can deploy based on user stories from org to org.

“We finally had an overview of multiple touched components and the flexibility to deploy user story based from org to org. This was huge,” Daniel Stangl, Deployment Manager / Salesforce Administrator said.

Describe the result, new efficiencies gained, and what was learned from the project:

After operating with these improved processes for a year and a half, KUKA decided to increase its release sophistication and step it up a notch by implementing the use of GIT as a service provider for the repository. Having a single source of truth allowed the team to create a version control process to even further reduce the risk of overwriting or missing components. This enabled the team to have a complete view of the process and metadata. The team could now easily identify any issues before they arose as they deploy from one sandbox to another. This meant the team gained countless precious hours and dollars back.

Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings, and staff time savings, if any:

KUKA has seen a true transformation in their DevOps processes through the use of Copado. In 2017, before Copado, the team executed around 400 components per deployment and required about 50 manual pre and post deployment steps. In 2018, after early installing Copado, the team saw an increase to 500 components with only 25 manual pre and post deployment steps. In 2019, KUKA reported an additional increase to 600 components with only 10 manual pre- and post-manual steps, demonstrating how Copado has increased the quality and efficiency of their process. 

“With our current Copado setup, we have a full version-controlled process with little manual extra effort (i.e. unsupported metadata). A sprint deployment is done within 2-6 hours instead of 5-6 working days, and we now only refresh our boxes 4 times a year,” Stangl said.

Ultimately, Copado enabled KUKA to implement a true DevOps process and eliminate the need for manual intervention. Copado brought with it a litany of benefits, including a source of truth, version control, automation, increase in velocity and quality control. By adopting Copado as their DevOps tool, KUKA has seen both an increase in the velocity and quality of its releases. Copado enables them with the tools and visibility needed to stop errors before they arise, which ultimately culminates in an improvement in user satisfaction.

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