Here at Xplenty, we have a number of customers who use Xplenty with Heroku Connect to enable integration at their organization.  Since Xplenty and Heroku Connect both provide a bi-directional data connection to Salesforce, you might think that you should use one or the other for your integration needs.  But our experience shows that each tool has specific strengths that make them complementary parts of a full solution. Read on to understand the basics of our Xplenty solution, Heroku Connect and how they can work together to address your Salesforce integration challenges.

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Heroku Connect

Heroku is a cloud computing platform that supports multiple languages, databases and other software.  Heroku Connect is a Salesforce component, built on the Heroku platform, that creates a real time read/write connection between a salesforce instance and a Heroku Postgres database. Each table in the Heroku Connect database corresponds with a Salesforce object. Once the Salesforce object data is in the database, it is available for integration:  

  • Processes that read the database will access an up-to-date copy of the data in the corresponding objects. When an object instance is created or updated in Salesforce, a Heroku Connect UPDATE or INSERT command sends the data to Postgres in near real time.
  • When a process updates data or inserts a row into the Heroku Postgres database, Heroku Connect updates or inserts data into the Salesforce object that corresponds with the row in the Postgres database.  Again, this occurs in near real time.

The ability to access a Postgres copy of Salesforce data opens that data to a wide variety of integration tools that don’t communicate directly with Salesforce. Any programming language or integration tool that supports Postgres--and that’s pretty much all of them--can be used to access your organization’s Salesforce data. Since Postgres’s interface is standard SQL, instead of the proprietary Salesforce API, your developer resources are able to access Salesforce using a familiar query language.  

Heroku Connect opens the door to Salesforce integration, and if you have development resources, you can pass through that door and enter a world where Salesforce and your internal systems interchange data in near real time. But what if you don’t have access to developers? That’s where Xplenty fits in.

Need to take a step back? Read our Introduction to Heroku Connect here.

Xplenty

Xplenty is a data integration tool that supports over 100 different integration targets, including Postgres on the Heroku platform. Xplenty provides a drag-and-drop interface where non-programmers can create data pipelines connecting any of the different systems that Xplenty supports. Xplenty pipelines support a number of different data cleansing and transform operations, so you can standardize data, or weed out low quality data, without getting developers involved.  Since Xplenty supports any system using the widely used REST API, even systems that don’t have a direct interface to Postgres can access Heroku Connect data via a Xplenty data pipeline.undefined

Xplenty can also address some of the security issues that prevent cloud data integration with on premises systems.  The Xplenty security solution allows systems behind the firewall to access Salesforce data securely, without exposing those systems to the wider Internet. Leveraging our SOC 2 certified and HIPAA compliant tool eliminates both the security and development timeline risk associated with a roll-your-own interface to on-premises systems.

If you’re not interested in learning the Xplenty interface, our data engineers can quickly build integrations between your Heroku Connect database and your on premises or cloud systems. 

Applications

Some common use cases that we see with our Heroku Connect customers include:

  • Analytics - While the Heroku Postgres database is great for synchronization and transactions, it’s not optimized for analysis. Using Xplenty, you can quickly and easily transfer data to high performance data warehousing systems like Snowflake, Amazon Redshift or Google BigQuery. The Xplenty data pipeline tool lets you schedule extracts for any timeline, starting at once per minute. Our data pipeline tool allows you to select only records meeting your data quality criteria (for example, leads with phone numbers and email addresses) for analysis, and publishing the results back into Salesforce.

  • Application Integration - If you have a customer-facing application hosted on another platform, an Xplenty data pipeline can feed that app customer data from your Salesforce system. This, in turn, powers a smooth end user experience, where sign up for your app is much easier since the customer’s information is pre-populated in the application database. Again, the powerful Xplenty data pipeline tools give you the ability to select only specific customers (such as B2C but not B2B) for your customer-facing app.  Our large set of database integrations let you insert customer data directly into the application database, or we can use your application’s REST API to push and pull data from your system.

  • Marketing - While Salesforce has powerful marketing tools, your organization may already have committed time and money to another marketing platform. Since Xplenty supports some marketing platforms natively, and almost any other via a pipeline, you can transfer data from Salesforce to your marketing system, and back again, using a Xplenty data pipeline. Our data pipeline allows you to select customers by any criteria stored in Salesforce, such as geographic location or products purchased.  

  • Backup - Xplenty supports inexpensive cloud storage solutions like Amazon S3 and Google Cloud, so you can use a pipeline to push your data into cloud storage for a robust backup that won’t break the bank.

These are just a few of the possible use cases of Xplenty to enhance the capabilities of Heroku Connect.

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Native Salesforce Integration

While Heroku Connect’s near real-time connection to Salesforce is a powerful and compelling capability for a number of applications, it may be more than your organization needs for other common uses of Salesforce data. 

Say, for instance, that you have a Salesforce custom object that stores data that is analyzed monthly or quarterly by your organization. Instead of keeping that data in a “live” state in the Heroku Connect Postgres database, you can just as easily extract it directly from Salesforce using an Xplenty data pipeline.  If your custom object is related to other data stored in Heroku Connect, your Xplenty pipeline can access that data in parallel with data stored in the Postgres database, and push that data into your analytic database. This allows you to use Heroku Connect for the data you analyze regularly, while saving on Heroku and Salesforce cycles for rarely studied information.

Next Steps

If you think that Xplenty is the right tool to extend and enhance your Heroku Connect system, we’re happy to provide a demo, a seven-day free trial, and a free setup session with our implementation team.  Just drop us a line at hello@xplenty.com or give us a call at +1-888-884-6405.

Interested in learning more about Heroku? We've listed the top five Heroku Events for 2020 here for you to attend!