Versioning tracks the flow of changes in your code, metadata, or configuration data. It’s important because it provides an auditable history of changes. You can refer to this history if you need to roll back to a previous version due to an issue. You can also refer to it for SOX compliance purposes. Versioning also facilitates collaboration.
Backup is the practice of routinely taking a snapshot of your Salesforce org. Its value is that you can use it to restore and recover your records in the event of a disaster.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the definitions of versioning and backup. We’ll examine the importance of backup and source control in Salesforce DevOps. And we’ll describe how to use each of these methods to accelerate development in Salesforce with less risk.
A backup is a copy of a portion or all your metadata, configuration data, and transactional data from your production org. You store this backup outside of your Salesforce production org. It allows you to recover and restore your production org to the most recent snapshot if you suffer data loss or corruption.
Data loss can occur due to a serious technical issue, an employee mistake, a bad actor, or even a cyberattack. As such, backup is a critical aspect of data management and data security.
You need to have a defined backup strategy for both your data and metadata.
To backup your data, you can use:
• Data Export App: Manual or scheduled exports of your data using the UI
• Data Loader: Manual, on-demand exports of your data using the API
• Report Export: Manual, on-demand exports of your data using reports
Many companies back up their data to external cloud storage outside of Salesforce, as well as to hard drives.
To backup your metadata, you can use:
• Change sets: Copy metadata from production to a sandbox or Developer environment.
• Sandbox refresh: When you refresh a sandbox, the metadata is automatically copied over.
• Force.com Migration tool: Java/Ant-based command-line utility for moving metadata between a local directory and a salesforce org
• Package Manager: Create an unmanaged package of your metadata to save in Salesforce.
Salesforce Backup and Restore offers backup, recover, and restore for Salesforce. It lets you create backup policies that automatically generate backups. In addition, you can use it to restore data in just a few clicks.
There are also various third party backup solutions available on the AppExchange.
It’s essential to routinely back up your Salesforce data as a part of your overall data management and security model. There are so many things that can cause data corruption or loss. Think of a bug, technical glitch, virus, or intentional data theft by a bad actor. Backup mitigates the risk.
If part or all of your org is wiped out, your users can’t do their jobs anymore. You lose the record of what you’ve sold and delivered, as well as what the next steps are with a customer. Worse: Your customers would be in for a terrible customer experience. This in turn has a whole host of consequences, including financial, reputational, and even legal repercussions.
When you have your data backed up, you can easily restore it and get back to business as usual. A backup won’t protect you from data corruption or data loss, but it makes it easier to recover from a catastrophic incident.
Versioning is also referred to as version control or source control. It provides a single source of truth, as well as automation, that lets teams make changes to Salesforce faster and more reliably. It also improves collaboration across the team.
Versioning involves maintaining an accurate history of all changes made to how the production org is set up in a shared repository. It automates many of the tasks associated with maintaining an auditable history of the org’s changes.
With this detailed change history, you can easily pinpoint and undo any change when you need to roll back a change in Salesforce.
Backup reverts the entire org to the previous snapshot. In contrast, versioning offers the targeted rollback of specific changes made during development.
Pro-code developers have used version control systems (VCS) for decades. However, because Salesforce is a low-code application, source control has only recently become available to low-code admins.
There are several third-party tools that provide versioning for Salesforce, like Prodly DevOps. In addition, Salesforce DevOps Center integrates with GitHub, which provides a powerful source repository.
The VCS has to maintain a shared repository for everyone on the team of all project code, metadata, and configuration data on a server. This shared repository must have a form of automatic backup.
The VCS must track changes per file (such as a metadata component or a Price Rule) that you commit to the repository. This allows you to review a file’s entire history. If you commit multiple files as a bundle, you can see the changes to them, as well. Additionally, it also makes it easier to determine failures from a specific change. Plus, you can easily revert one file or a bundle of files to the previous state… or any state before that.
The code, metadata, or configuration data must be stored in a place where a build system like Salesforce or VS Code can detect changes to the repository. The build system then automatically triggers a build and an immediate integration test.
The version control system must manage conflicts and overwrites among multiple users. The source control system can do this by leveraging tools that automatically merge changes and detect conflicts. It may also require individual developers to lock the files they’re working on so only they can access them.
The VCS must send automatic notifications to developers when specific files change or when they need to manually resolve merge conflicts.
Managing Salesforce changes in a source repository is the foundation of automating your release pipeline. To enable true CI/CD, Salesforce or VS Code need to know instantaneously when you’re making changes to the repository. Versioning instantly updates the source code when you make a change. This offers five distinct benefits.
It maintains a change history, which allows you to restore components or parts of components to before the last change with laser precision.
Versioning facilitates collaboration, because multiple people can seamlessly work on the code, metadata, or configuration data at the same time. They won’t overwrite each other’s changes or introduce changes that could break any functionality.
It provides an accurate history of the who, what, when, and why of all changes that were made. This is critical in apps like Salesforce CPQ or B2B Commerce that require meticulous change tracking for SOX compliance purposes. The detailed history of changes makes the source repository auditable over time.
Because you add notes when you commit changes, you can link the why of a change to a specific user story.
Versioning enables troubleshooting as early as possible in the release pipeline, which helps minimize costs. Because versioning facilitates continuous integration, every change you make triggers an automatic build. It also runs automated tests. If the change causes any kind of conflict or issue, you’ll know about it in just a couple of minutes.
Version control and backups are clearly not the same thing. Version control helps accelerate your development cycle, and backups protect you from the consequences of data loss or corruption.
In Salesforce, each method plays an important role:
• To safeguard your transactional Salesforce data such as Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities, back up your data using either data exports or a data backup solution.
• To accelerate development and releases, use source control to manage and version code, metadata, and configuration data.
If you want to adhere to DevOps best practices, you can’t use a backup solution for source control in Salesforce. Why? It doesn’t provide the automation you need for continuous integration. On top of that, a backup solution also doesn’t provide the granular change tracking you need for versioning and compliance.
A comprehensive DevOps solution like Prodly DevOps offers the ability to integrate your release pipeline with GitHub, Bitbucket, and Azure. This provides you with meticulous change tracking and version control for metadata and configuration data in Salesforce. It enables fast and easy rollbacks if needed. Plus, it ensures SOX compliance. It also facilitates streamlined collaboration between your team members.