Reflections on Dreamforce 2014
Last week we joined about 150,000 other people in San Francisco for Dreamforce. Now that we’ve had a chance to unpack our luggage and get some much-needed sleep, we thought we’d take a look back and share a bit of what we saw and learned.
The (Very) Big Event
Our engineer Gordon Bockus described Dreamforce as “over the top.” Lori Witzel, our Product Marketing Manager was struck by the amount of noise: “My iPhone decibel meter app registered an average of 84 dBs and a peak of 95 dBs in the Expo Hall.” Altogether, we met literally thousands of people, and we found that Salesforce users are smart, engaged and diverse. The attendees ranged from users, business managers, business analysts, sales and marketing folks, and consultants who help companies make the most of their business using Salesforce and the tools available in the Salesforce AppExchange. Also, we found it interesting that not many of the attendees were traditional IT folks, which indicates that SaaS application owners are a new and developing breed. (You can read more about this diverse group of people here.)
Developers Going Mobile on Salesforce1
Our engineers Patty Cifra and Gordon Bockus presented to a packed house at Dreamforce on the Developer Zone floor about how to translate a Force.com Canvas app into Salesforce1. When they asked how many people were using the technologies they were presenting on, only about four people raised their hands. It’s clear that many developers are looking to get started with mobile development on Salesforce1 (we have a developer guide that can help), and many of them might be looking to the Lightning Components that were announced at Dreamforce to do it. There’s even a contest to encourage people to get started with Lightning. Though Salesforce has been serious about mobile for a while, they’re focusing very heavily now on enabling developers to start coding there.
Salesforce Backup: Who Gets It?
Obviously, we came to Dreamforce to talk about backing up Salesforce data, and in doing so, we met four different kinds of people:
- “Salesforce has me covered.” When people came by the booth to meet us and ask us what we were all about, you could see a quick “freak out moment” in their eyes. “Wait, Salesforce backs up my data – right?! Why would I need Spanning?” Yes, Salesforce has you covered in terms of natural disasters or server failures, and they do offer the Weekly Export. But data loss is much more likely to occur from user error and the overwriting of data, the deletion of data, issues of syncing with other apps, uploading large data into the Salesforce environment, etc. In these cases, Salesforce can help, but it’s with a $10,000+ dump of all of your data – but not your metadata – and the process can take weeks.
- “I get why I need backup.” In addition to all of the great new features Salesforce continues to roll out, ISVs and customers continue to build new and innovative products to help run their business on the Salesforce platform, including the Force.com platform. This makes for a mountain of valuable data on the platform that needs protecting. In fact, the very existence of the Wave analytics platform shows just how important data is; without it, there’s nothing to analyze.
Our VP of Sales, Garrett Jones, was talking to people about the kinds of data they’re storing in Salesforce. For many of them, things like important legal documents resided there alongside all of their client and prospect information. And when you mention all the ways those important files could be lost, people nod, sometimes remembering their own past fiascos. “I’ve had people stop me mid-sentence when talking about the types of data loss saying, ‘Oh, I can imagine a lot of ways data could get lost…’” We hope to catch people before they have a disaster, but what we often hear is the aftermath.
- “I use the Weekly Export.” Salesforce offers you the ability to export all of your data once a week so you can store it elsewhere as a backup. The problem is, it doesn’t include your metadata – reports, customizations, etc – which are a huge part of what makes Salesforce so valuable. Also, we’ve found that the average Salesforce domain experiences 26,000 changes per day, so restoring from last week’s Weekly Export could mean 155,000 changes are permanently lost. Plus, as most Salesforce administrators and MVPs can tell you, the Weekly Export process is slow, painful, error-prone and incomplete, which is why only 52% of admins are using it.
- “I want better.” For those who find the Weekly Export process cumbersome and those who have had to use tools like the data loader, trying to back up their Salesforce data has been frustrating. Mat Hamlin, our Director of Products, gave a two-minute “DemoJam” to about 150 Salesforce MVPs, and when they saw how easy in-app restore could be with just a few clicks, they got really excited.
It is clear that Salesforce is the #1 business SaaS platform in the world. They continue to add great functionality, focused on business users and “point-and-click” admins and developers. And while we’re excited to see so many people embracing a great platform that we ourselves use, we hope that people will make sure that data loss isn’t going to be a problem for them before they forge ahead on exciting new adventures.