April 29 2024
Author Aden Ashir

An Introduction to Salesforce API Integration

At Cloud Orca, we specialise in helping organisations transform and digitise their businesses using the Salesforce platform and other integrated solutions. 

As an award-winning Salesforce CRM consultancy that implements digital transformation projects for our clients, we often deal with various requirements which involve integrating Salesforce with external systems. 

Businesses constantly need to improve their efficiency and customers’ experience to remain competitive. System integrations allow for the constituent exchange of accurate information between different systems. Integration can play a vital role in your organisations’ digital transformation endeavours. 

In this article I’ll cover Salesforce integration basics, common integration architecture types, and the fundamentals of Salesforce integration API capabilities.  

What are Salesforce Integrations?

Integrations are built in an Application Programming Interface (API). An API is a set of rules or protocols that enables software applications to communicate with each other to exchange data.  

APIs permit the flow of information between software, connecting disparate systems in a unified manner. Integrations help automate business processes an improve productivity.  

Cloud Based vs On-Premises Integrations 

Integrations with Salesforce can either be cloud-based or on-premises business applications. Let’s look at the difference between cloud-based and on-premises business applications integrations: 

Cloud Systems Integrations with Salesforce are often effective and seamless. Benefits include:

  • Low initial cost
  • Easy, fast implementations
  • Mobile access
  • Can be scaled with no additional hardware requirements.  

On-Premises Systems Integrations tend to present some obstacles to Salesforce integration, such as firewalls blocking integration authentication etc. Benefits include:

  • Complete control over the system, it’s development and implementation
  • Ownership of data for compliance purposes
  • Full control of privacy and security measures.  

Salesforce Integration Architecture Types

Integration architecture types can vary, from a simple one-to-one system integration between two systems, to far more complex enterprise integrations that support the connection of multiple systems and applications.  

Below we will touch on some common integration architecture types and their key considerations: 

Point-to-Point Integration:
Point-to-point (P2P) integration is a traditional method that connects two systems or applications, syncing data between them in regular intervals. The process of sending a message between the two systems is a 1-1 relationship. For example, when an opportunity record in Salesforce is closed/won, products details can be sent to the Xero accounting system for invoicing purposes via P2P API.  

P2P integration is ideal when:

  • Simplicity is key
  • Speed and reliability is important.

P2P integration probably isnt the best solution when:

  • You don’t have repeatable processes or an established workflow
  • Your business is growing and requirements change regularly
  • Building a scalable and future proof integration. 

Hub-and-Spoke Integration:
Hub-and-spoke architecture is a common alternative to P2P. This creates a central hub through which all integrations pass. The hub is responsible for processing and routing the data exchanged between various connected systems. 

Hub-and-spoke integration is best used when:

  • You want a single point of control and management for all integrations
  • You require asynchronous communication between systems.

Hub-and-spoke integration is best avoided if:

  • You want to avoid a single point of failure in the integration
  • Your business needs and requirements are likely to evolve soon. 

ESB Integration:
ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) architecture is an improved alternative to the hub-and-spoke integration architecture model. The ESB model boasts greater scalability due to the use of individuals adapters for each connected system. 

There is some crossover between ESB tools and Integration platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions, but while iPaaS works to connect applications available on the public cloud, ESB tools are typically used for internal data transfers and updates. 

ESB integration is best used when:

  • You require fast, simple application deployment
  • Monitoring and governance are important
  • You have more than three applications or services to integrate. 

ESB integration isn’t ideal if:

  • You don’t want to risk a single point of failure in the integration.  

Salesforce Integration API Capabilities

Salesforce provides programmatic access to your org’s information using simple, powerful and secure APIs. However, building a high-performing, scalable, and secure solution requires a careful planning and consideration.  

Before you choose a Salesforce API for your integration needs, it is important to understand the capacities of each such as supported protocols, data formats, and use cases.  

REST API 

REST APIs provide a convenient, simple interface for interacting with Salesforce. Its advantages include ease of integration and development. It’s an excellent choice of technology for use with mobile applications and web projects.  

REST APIs can use both JSON and XML data formats however, JSON works better with data and is best for web or mobile applications.  

SOAP API 

SOAP APIs provide a structured, formal interface for interacting with Salesforce. You can use SOAP APIs to create, retrieve, update, or delete records. You can also use SOAP APIs to perform searches and more. 

SOAP APIs are commonly used in banking systems and are a good option for back-end system communications and applications that require formal hand-off between the API and the consumer. 

Bulk API 2.0 

Bulk API 2.0 is based on REST principles and is optimized for working with large sets of data. You can use it to insert, update, upsert, or delete many records, generally submitting a request and coming back later for the results. 

It allows you to control sequential process jobs or in parallel (multiple batches at the same time), and it’s clever enough to do automatic file batching. 

Bulk API 2.0 is the newer version Bulk API, worth noting that Bulk API is still available for use. 

Summary

Salesforce integrations can offer significant benefits for coordinating and automating business processes. 

Salesforce APIs are well-designed and reusable resources with built-in functionality right out of the box. Before you opt to use a Salesforce API or start development, you need a good software design plan, selecting an API that’s flexible enough to accommodate your design as it changes and scales.  

Of course, if you don’t possess the in-house capacity to build and integrate your own APIs, Salesforce Partners such as Cloud Orca are experts in these things and are always ready to help!  

 

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