What is Salesforce REALLY?

Ah, the classic question. The one we all start with and the one we still struggle to answer. As the all-powerful Salesforce platform increases in size, complexity, and ability, the age-old question becomes ever more difficult to answer simply. But here at Salesforce Training NZ we say, enough is enough! No longer shall we struggle in vain with vague sayings and phrases we don't fully understand. Today is the day. Join us, as we uncover at last, what the heck Salesforce actually is.

The Ingredients

Salesforce is essentially a combination of the following three things:
  1. Cloud computing
  2. Customer Relationship Management
  3. SaaS (pronounced sass) & PaaS (pronounced p-ass)


Now, there's no need to freak out. These may look scary and like the big unknown but really they can each be broken down very easily. By the end of this article, you'll be able to explain them all like you were born with this knowledge.

Cloud Computing

Starting the cloud computing. What is cloud computing? Literally - the internet. The cloud = the internet. Cloud computing therefore means "computing done over the cloud." Cloud computing refers to the act of delivering a computing service from a vendor (who created the service) to a client (who uses the service. Typically you and me). It's used for all sorts of things these days. Cloud computing can be used for storing data, streaming audio and video (YouTube, Spotify), and even building applications. What's great about it is that it doesn't rely on hardware or physical servers. This makes it accessible to pretty much anyone with an internet connection. Which is a big part of the reason why Salesforce has been able to grow so extraordinarily large.


Next - customer relationship management. This is the usual answer for defining Salesforce. The problem is, it usually comes from people who already use Salesforce. And it only makes sense to people who have either used Salesforce before (so why would they need to know what Salesforce is) OR to people who have used custom relationship management systems before (and even then the definition changes depending on the business). Neither of these are helpful for the beginner. Behold, the real definition of customer relationship management; "the management of anything your company does that interacts with a customer." Boom. This can include everything from emails to sales to refunds to complaints to discounts to advertising to website design to customer support. In some way, shape, or form, CRM exists in almost every external area of business.
And so can Salesforce.

SaaS & PaaS

The final frontier - SaaS and PaaS. SaaS stands for 'Software as a Service' and can be defined as software that we use which is ready to go from the moment we install it. A great example of SaaS is Microsoft Office 365. The person who supplies the software provides everything for you, straight off the shelf. Servers, availability, security, and all the underlying infrastructure is all there for you. PaaS on the other hand is missing some pieces. PaaS stands for 'Platform as a Service' and leaves some room for the client (you) to customise things a bit. PaaS is usually used for development frameworks or data analytics tools.
Think of it like making a pizza. SaaS would be like you walking in a cafe, sitting down, and getting delivered a pizza straight away. Voila! The restaurant has a chef, ovens, sauces, toppings, dough, and a full-sized kitchen, none of which you have to worry about. Now, if we think about PaaS, it would be like walking into a restaurant where they have the ovens, sauces, toppings, dough, and full-sized kitchen, but it's up to you to put together your ideal pizza. You choose the sauces and toppings, and you are responsible for the outcome. The restaurant just provides all the basics.
Salesforce offers both of these options. You can get tools and products straight off the shelf and ready to go (most of the Salesforce suite), or you can custom build things that are more suited to your own needs (Salesforce App Cloud and Heroku Enterprise).

To sum it up

If you skipped right to this section, (yes, I see you always-in-a-rush-Robert) then that's totally cool. We all do it sometimes! Here's the long and short of it: Salesforce is a cloud computing service that helps businesses manage their relationships with customers by offering SaaS and PaaS. IN OTHER WORDS, Salesforce is a giant database run completely on the internet which gives you loads of fancy tools to help connect with your customers better. They offer ready-built products that you can use straight away AND the option to customise their products to suit your particular business needs.
There's heaps that Salesforce can do, but understanding it at a high level doesn't need to be difficult. I hope you find a wonderful big pizza, plop down somewhere cosy, and eat it with the complete satisfaction of knowing that you understand what Salesforce is at last.