Salesforce CTO Parker Harris on outages, integration and architecture

Here are four highlights from an interview with Salesforce CTO and co-founder Parker Harris.

Salesforce's Parker Harris on managing complex IT integrations and handing the inevitable crisis At Salesforce TrailheaDX 2019, Parker Harris shared his advice for tech leaders on everything from multiplatform integration to managing a crisis.

Salesforce CTO Parker Harris recently sat down with TechRepublic's Bill Detwiler to talk shop, architecture and handling outages and integration.

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Here are four highlights from the interview, which was conducted at Salesforce's TrailheaDX conference and ahead of the company's earnings.

The CTO role. Harris said that he has been focusing on integrating the Salesforce's clouds and UI. "The key to that was architecture. We're not going to go rewrite a lot of the technology that we have. Most CTOs in the world can't afford to do that either, right?" he said. "We're integrating at an identity level for login and authentication. So a CXO is going to have to do that. We're integrating at a UI level so that it feels like the same service."

Customer 360. Harris said that the integration work behind Customer 360 is on track. "Years ago, the CXOs of the world will probably cringe when I use this word, master data management, right? Whenever you say that, they're like, "Ah, that really failed. That was horrible." But the Customer 360, you could think about that as customer mastering. It's about making sure you understand your customer uniquely across all your systems, and yet, don't rewrite everything," he said.


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Salesforce integration. Harris acknowledged that customers increasingly have complex multi-cloud architectures. Salesforce's challenge is blending in. Harris said:

I like to say, "Let's look at your architecture from a customer-centric perspective." I don't want to talk about the Salesforce architecture to a customer. What's the customer's architecture, and how does Salesforce fit in? Then within that, how do we make sure the development process of Salesforce, whether you're developing UI or integrations or workflows or business process, how do you make sure there's a consistent way to actually write that code, to store it in modern ways, like on Git for example? Whether it's UI or logic, store it in code, version it, right? Upgrade and downgrade if you need to, or roll back.

The Pardot outage. Harris said the decision to take down all services over Pardot was a tough decision, but made sense. He said:

We made a very hard call, and we pulled the plug on the network, because we wanted to protect all of our customers' information.

I've been on numerous calls with our customers explaining the issue and apologizing, telling them how it will never happen again. But over and over again, our customers have thanked us for staying true to our values and being very clear in the heat of the moment that security is more important than anything, and the trusted safety of their data is job one.