SmartCloud Connect tech talk
SmartCloud Connectis a cloud-based application, which provides a full set of business tools for integrating Salesforce with your personal environment (email clients, calendar, task applications etc.). It combines powerful synchronization with flexible mail app capabilities, providing users full set of business tools for integrating their personal environment (email clients, calendar, task applications etc.) with CRM.
Hosted on a Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, SmartCloud Connect automatically synchronizes contacts, tasks, events and emails (Exchange PIM objects) – with Salesforce, taking into account customized filters, user rights and other parameters. So all changes of objects made in Salesforce will be brought into your Exchange email, contact, task or calendar application and vice versa. Once in Exchange, all your Exchange connected devices get the enterprise data and can manage and update the information natively. The solution can also support different backend systems – if you can provide the required APIs – and operate business data that can be mapped with contacts, tasks, events and emails.
With SmartCloud Connect users can create business records and share them in Salesforce , simultaneously update data on Exchange server and enterprise system, get up-to-date Salesforce information, sync contact attachments and much more.
Today we’d like to talk more about SmartCloud Connect Synchronization Engine and answer your most frequently asked questions – how de-duplication works, what is conflict resolution, what happens during synchronization deactivation, how to set up business object filters and more.
First, we need to define few terms, which will be used in this article.
De-duplication is the process of identifying and avoiding duplicates in Salesforce. Before inserting new record to Salesforce, SCC searches existing records using key fields (Natural Keys) of the object-to-be-inserted. Whenever duplicate in Salesforce is found, it is merged with new record instead of producing a duplicate.
Natural keys defines set of fields that are used when searching for potential duplicates for a given object. For example, for Contact the Natural keys might be First and Last Name, or Email address.
Sync conflict – when some record is modified concurrently in both Exchange and Salesforce, or during de-duplication, a decision needs to be made on which version of two is the winner in order to proceed with synchronization. Sync conflict holds information about conflicted record.
Conflict resolution - a decision on picking a winner for Sync Conflict that enables SmartCloud Connect to update record in both Exchange and Salesforce to winning version and resume synchronizing record. At the moment SmartCloud Connect resolves these conflicts automatically using “Salesforce Wins” strategy.
Sync Issue - a synchronization error that occurred during synchronization when either Salesforce or Exchange server cannot process the request to add, modify or delete a record. This may indicate either a transient problem, which disappears on next sync, or permanent problem when Salesforce does not accept updates from Exchange. Information about Sync Issues is available on SmartCloud Connect dashboard and in Exchange where each problematic item gets Error category assigned to it.
Q. How are duplicates identified? What happens when you have a duplicate? How can you resolve duplicates?
A. Duplicate handling in SmartCloud Connect can be either automatically resolved or manually resolved. What may be different:
- Since SCC does not synchronize related records (Accounts, Opportunities, etc.), their IDs can not be used for de-duplication, only plain contact fields (like FirstName, LastName, Email)
- Since there’s no Control Panel in Outlook or Office 365, duplicates have to be resolved in Web UI. At the moment in Salesforce product we have API for that but not the UI.
Q. Can we have control on specifying the fields that can be chosen for detecting duplicates?
A. Yes, you can define natural keys for de-duplicating.
Q. What about duplicates from when you first start using the sync (contact exists in your Outlook and Salesforce prior to using sync)?
A. At the moment they will be duplicated (user’s contacts are in "Contacts" folder, while Salesforce contacts will sync down to "Business Contacts" folder). We are looking into adding an on-boarding procedure to SCC where user can resolve duplicates after initial sync.
Q. Does admin or user can manage the synchronization?
A. User can:
- Force synchronization to start sooner
- Suspend/resume synchronization
Client Admin/Customer support person can also:
- Force re-synchronization of all the data (removal of all data and sync anew)
- Remove synchronized data for user and disable synchronization
Q. How are Check Issues messages handled? What happens if you have a sync issue?
A. There are 2 ways where user can see sync issues in SCC:
- Dashboard UI has a section dedicated to synchronization issues, where user can review if he has any issues, review issue details and open object in question to fix the problem
- If issue happened because data in Exchange is incorrect, SCC additionally adds "Error" category (red-colored), and "Error message" category with details of the error. So users can see there’re issues right in their Outlook and can fix those. Once error is fixed, those additional categories get automatically removed.
Q. What happens if conflict appears between synced data in Salesforce and my Outlook? Will it be resolved automatically?
A. Conflicts are handled next way:
- If there’s conflict and there’s auto-resolver defined in SCC, then an attempt is made to resolve conflict
- If resolved, changes are applied immediately
- Otherwise conflict is recorded for user to resolve. Contact changes will not be synced until user makes decision on that conflict
Q. Can I filter business records coming from Salesforce to my Outlook ?
A. You can do this with SCC filters are set up on Salesforce side (Named filters) - users just select a named filter they want. So pretty simple. Alternatively we may look into filter constructing code in SCC, but initial intent was to let user work with UI they are used to work with.
Q. What types of rights are required on workstation and devices (without requiring IT or super user rights) for managing users?
A. For MailApp the only requirement on workstation is to use compatible mail client, which is Outlook for Windows 2013+, Outlook for Mac 2016+, OWA for iPhone/Android.
SmartCloud Connect does not impose any client requirements, however set of functionalities may be different between clients due to limited client capabilities. For example, to share contact user shall either move it to given folder or assign a category - and then depending on client, either or both ways shall work.
On server side, requirements are following:
- Exchange 2013 with EWS access enabled and MailApps (Office Add-Ins) installation allowed (this is default configuration)
- For Exchange 2013+ the impersonation should be set up on Exchange level to (1) simplify corporate deployments, (2) ensure users don’t have to share their Exchange passwords with SCC and (3) password expiration does not cause sync to stop.
Q. What options does an administrator have for controlling synchronization (filters, types of records, who is involved in syncing)?
A. Administrators have full control what gets synced (customization, types, fields), users allowed to sync, synchronization intervals, user lifecycle and management.
Q. What is the user experience on mobile devices?
A. For devices which do not support MailApp:
- Contacts, Tasks, Meetings are synchronized 2-ways between CRM and Exchange and editable only in terms of standard fields. Custom fields available read-only in the notes section. Share by assigning item a category or move to a folder. Emails can be shared from mobile device to CRM.
For devices which also support MailApp:
- Open mail app in context of any email or Calendar event
- Share event, share attachments, lookup any record in CRM and edit any field including customizations
- Optional productivity features, e.g. "magic pixel" - the way to track if email you just sent was read by a recipient, and time/place where it happened.
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