Salesforce launches Connect to line up external apps, data

When it debuted in November 2014, Salesforce pitched Lightning Connect as the "fastest, easiest" way to access data stored in legacy systems.

Nearly a year after launching, Salesforce.com is repackaging its Lightning Connect service with new features and a shorter name.

Now referred to simply as Salesforce Connect, the tool has become more keenly focused on offering real-time insights into external apps and data based either in the cloud or on-premise.

When it debuted in November 2014, Salesforce pitched Lightning Connect as the "fastest, easiest" way to access data stored in legacy systems. According to the cloud titan at the time, customers already putting their data in older, usually siloed infrastructures were unable to access such data from within the Salesforce cloud.

Lightning Connect was designed to remedy that situation, and now the next generation of Connect is supposed to take things further with additional abilities such as being able to create and delete records in external systems (i.e. inventory management, etc.) directly from the Salesforce platform.

Organizations with multiple Salesforce instances can also be connected through Connect without any additional coding required. Adrian Kunzle, senior vice president of product development at Salesforce, suggested this could come about in the case of company mergers and acquisitions.

The real connection here is being made through the Salesforce API.

Kunzle elaborated in a blog post on Thursday about why the Salesforce API plays a crucial role in the CRM giant's strategy for Connect.

Kunzle wrote:

We live in an API economy. APIs connect the apps that we use in our personal lives and deliver real­time [sic] access to data and services from any device. When you open Google Maps and search for a restaurant, you can also reserve a table via OpenTable's API and book an Uber car with the Uber API, without ever leaving the Google Maps app. The growth and popularity of API standards like REST and OData have made it easier than ever for developers to create and connect apps. APIs have transformed our app experiences as consumers, and we now have similar expectations for the apps we use at work.

Developers can also use Connect to write adapters, establishing potential integrations between Salesforce and more than 10,000 public APIs online.

Salesforce Connect is now available for developer access and support via Salesforce's online educational hub, Trailhead.