Salesforce has announced, via a blog post by SVP of Product Development Adrian Kunzle, a new App Cloud integration service. 

This new service lets users access and — this is key — manage data in external apps, which can be located on the cloud or on premise.

If this sounds familiar that is because the service, newly redubbed Salesforce Connect, is the next generation of a data-integration component the company introduced last year called Salesforce1 Lightning Connect.

Data Friendly

Per Salesforce's usual MO of working with user-friendly and advanced technology, Salesforce1 Lightning Connect sported a point-and-click setup and real-time integration, as opposed to the more cumbersome batch mode. 

What it actually did, though, was even more intriguing (for then): It let users view data from any source from within Salesforce cloud-based applications. Specifically, users could create "a new kind of object that provides a live view of data residing in external systems," wrote Lawrence McAlpin in a Salesforce developer blog post later that year. 

Salesforce1 Lightning Connect, it should be noted here, was built on the Lightning Platform as a Service for mobile developers, which Salesforce had introduced a few months prior.

The main use case would be, as Salesforce and its early adopters explained back in 2014, to move data from a company's back end into a new mobile product being developed. Without, of course, having to use a host of cumbersome integration tech tools.

Advancing the Integration

And now we have Salesforce Connect — a product that is much further advanced than its predecessor, Salesforce1 Lightning Connect.

For example, developers don't have use the API standard OData to create custom adapters anymore, Kunzle wrote — now users can tap any web API to build these adapters, including more than 10,000 public API's available on the Internet.

There is also a new feature called Salesforce Connector, which appears to have been designed to support IT integration in a company merger. Connector makes it easy to integrate disparate instances of Salesforce or multiple Salesforce "orgs," Kunzle wrote.

Read/Write

The biggest enhancement, though, is the new read/write functionality. Users can "create, read, update and delete records in various external sources, such as order management, receivables or inventory management systems--in real-time, directly from Salesforce," Kunzle wrote.

That, in my view, is Salesforce Connect's main strength, and possibly Kunzle's as well. 

He wrote that Connect: "allows your workforce to not only access customer data sitting in the back office, but to proactively manage it, empowering people to connect and collaborate in an agile way, and be even more responsive to customers."

There are other advantages to this functionality, namely it gives users more options for intelligence gathering, Denis Pombriant, principal of the Boston-based Beagle Research Group told CMSWire.

"It enables Salesforce users to cast a broader net to capture more specific data about whatever is important to them and apply the relevant analytics to arrive at better informed conclusions," he said.

A Deeper Look at Lightning

But to truly understand how robust Salesforce Connect is, a look at its underpinning — the Lightning platform itself — is necessary.

Lightning, briefly, is a framework and application builder based on the open source Aura Framework that, as noted above was first launched in 2014. 

Salesforce followed up with a new version earlier this year.

The crux of the platform remained the same though: Lightning was designed for users to build, well anything, without code. It is essentially a series of "prebuilt, reusable building blocks" for users to create, say, a specific sales process.

The new version kept to that "no code" creed but also included support for desktop development.

It was in response to developers' desire to have a desktop version, Will Moxley, SVP of Product Management, Sales Cloud, told CMSWire this summer when Lightning was announced.

"What we did in this release was take these components and put them on the desktop," he said. "The developers had liked them so much for the mobile app that they asked for a desktop version too." All told, there were 55 re-imagined Sales Cloud pages and 25 new features for Lightning users in the August roll out.

We can see this support in Salesforce Connect or at least some of the use cases Kunzle describes in his post. 

O.C. Tanner, a human resources consulting company, wanted to bring down call resolution times and after some thinking about the problem decided that if its reps could search, access and edit order data without leaving Salesforce that could be achieved. "The company used Salesforce Connect to build and deploy real-time integration from Service Cloud to SAP in just hours, and was able to reduce call resolution time by 50 percent," Kunzle wrote.

Don't worry — it is still a very mobile-friendly world at Salesforce and that includes Salesforce Connect. But desktops are our friends, too.