Today, we are happy to announce the pilot release of our new Salesforce Connect adapter for GraphQL. This opens up new integration possibilities for our customers and continues the work that both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce are doing to make the Salesforce and AWS platforms more interoperable.

This interoperability is critical as organizations of all sizes leverage both Salesforce and AWS to deliver modern, omni-channel customer experiences. Our customers rely on Salesforce to effectively manage customer relationships, and they often build applications on the Salesforce Platform that leverage AWS’s unique compute, storage, and database offerings. We are working in concert with AWS to make it easier for developers to build custom applications that natively leverage AWS services in Salesforce, securely connecting data and automating workflows across both platforms.

In particular, this new adapter enables Salesforce developers and administrators to access data stored in Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, and other data stores in a zero-copy manner — but use the data as if it were persisted in Salesforce. This is made possible via AWS AppSync, which hosts GraphQL-compatible API endpoints leveraged by Salesforce Connect.

GraphQL queries from Salesforce are interpreted by AWS AppSync, which uses a Direct Lambda resolver (with an AWS Lambda function) to fetch data from the underlying Amazon RDS database.

Customers can place nearly any structured data store behind a GraphQL API, saving developers valuable time by providing an abstraction layer that manages access to one or more raw data stores.

Modernizing SQL data sources with APIs for virtualization

Imagine an organization in the midst of a digital transformation, endeavoring to improve omni-channel customer experiences and move to hyperscale public cloud infrastructure to accommodate growth in their business. They have many applications deployed to traditional RDBMSs, so they migrate to Amazon RDS to scale those databases while maintaining their investment in SQL-based tools.

Salesforce-based apps — and other modern apps, e.g., mobile clients — will need access to this data to deliver better customer experiences. Agents in Service Cloud, for example, often need fine-grained access to individual records in external systems that represent a customer’s shipments, returns, or payment transaction details. Rather than replicating all the data via ETL, or establishing direct JDBC/ODBC connections to the back end, the organization places a GraphQL-based abstraction layer in front of the databases for flexible, HTTP-based access. AWS AppSync completely manages the GraphQL access layer in a secure, observable manner without worrying about server infrastructure. Application teams can innovate quickly and define the precise data they need via GraphQL, and data teams have the option to solve for expensive queries with optimized solutions, or even migrate the data to different back-ends in the future.

This new adapter allows Salesforce Connect to act as a client to these GraphQL services, and it does so in a zero-copy manner by making live callouts to the API endpoints at the moment when a user or system action requires those records. Only the data needed for that particular action is queried via GraphQL, and Salesforce Connect does not store or cache the records returned by the server. This approach helps customers manage costs, avoid technical hassles, and stay within security and compliance guidelines regarding data movement.

External objects surface data residing in AWS in a way that allows administrators to take advantage of features offered by the Salesforce Platform, such as Lightning Flow, indirect lookups to native objects, and more. Salesforce developers can even write SOQL queries and Apex against this data source, maintaining the developer experience they’re used to. In short, Salesforce trailblazers don’t have to re-skill to leverage high-scale data stored on AWS.

Getting started

To join the pilot and test this functionality in your sandbox, contact your account representative and ask them to nominate you for this pilot.

If you’ve never worked with External Objects, start with this quick start project on Trailhead to get your feet wet with Salesforce Connect. And when you’re ready to dive deeper, this trail map covers everything you need to succeed with data virtualization.

About the author

Ross Belmont is a Director of Product Management covering Platform Data Services. He has more than a decade of experience with the Salesforce ecosystem.

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