New Salesforce tool lets users have their way with external data

With Connect, Salesforce users can create, read, update and delete records in outside sources

Salesforce users have been able to access data in external apps ever since the release of the cloud vendor's Lightning Connect tool last year, but a new generation of the product announced on Thursday extends those ties considerably.

Dubbed Salesforce Connect, the new offering lets employees not only access external data but also proactively manage it.

Read/write capabilities in the new tool mean that Salesforce users can now create, read, update and delete records in various external sources in real time, right from within Salesforce. That puts data from order-management, receivables or inventory-management systems, for instance, within much closer reach.

Custom adapters, meanwhile, make it possible to connect to APIs (application programming interfaces) in formats other than the OData format Connect uses. The result is that developers can connect Salesforce to any Web API or any of the more than 10,000 public APIs available on the Internet.

"Until now, you were limited to integrating with OData Web services, forcing you to build or buy OData producers hosted outside of Salesforce," explained software engineer Lawrence McAlpin in a post announcing the new feature on the Salesforce Developers Blog earlier this year. "Now, with the Apex Connector Framework, you can integrate with anything -- well, anything that we can get to from Salesforce by using HTTP callouts."

Finally, companies with multiple Salesforce “orgs,” or instances -- across regions, subsidiaries or functions, for example -- can now connect them without having to write any code, Salesforce said.

Salesforce has long touted its "API-first" approach. More than half of the 4 billion-plus transactions it processes every day come in through the Salesforce API, it says.

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