Salesforce is a heavyweight in the SaaS market, and Salesforce problems can affect thousands of users. Salesforce has an online status dashboard that many users leverage to monitor the application and determine whether it’s working properly and performing to expectations. However, trust.salesforce.com is really just an internal dashboard Salesforce set up so you can check on whether everything within the Salesforce infrastructure and data center is functioning properly. It doesn’t really show what’s happening on 90% of the Salesforce delivery path. Think of it as the “check engine light” of Salesforce: It tells you whether the engine (application code) is running fine, but it doesn’t tell you the condition of the roads (the Internet connection), whether there’s construction on the roads (limited bandwidth), or other cars tying up traffic (competition for resources). Just because the “engine” is running fine doesn’t mean you’ll be able to drive fast and get to your destination quickly.
Salesforce is a critical application that companies rely on to keep their business moving forward. Therefore, it’s important for IT teams to be aware of and watch for the performance issues that could arise or already be occurring, and to know how to respond and correct the issues before they impact company operations and ultimately affect the business. Many of the issues highlighted here are not specific to Salesforce. They are just the successful SaaS service example observed within our customer base, and the ecosystem of plugins is substantially larger with Salesforce than other SaaS providers.
The Top Salesforce Problems
Here are what we consider to be the top five performance problems for enterprise SaaS services like Salesforce:
1. Location-specific issues. Salesforce runs out of 152 instances globally (to date), with 54 of them in North America. The location of your office in relation to the location of your instance of Salesforce and all your Salesforce plugins is a factor in understanding the performance of your Salesforce application. It’s actually central to many of the performance issues Salesforce users see. Diminishing the physical distance and the number of network hops to get to Salesforce can have a huge impact on performance. This may not seem like a big deal; no one is going to notice a 20 or 30 milliseconds delay. When those 20 or 30 milliseconds are tacked on to each of the 75 objects on a Salesforce web page, and users are spending several hours in this mission-critical SaaS app, they really add up.
Most other SaaS services do not have the option to choose where your account is provisioned. You should take advantage of this option with Salesforce and choose the instance closest geographically to your users as this will give the best performance.
2. Underestimating the impact of recreational traffic. Every employee now carries around one or more devices capable of streaming high-definition video and audio, most of which will automatically connect to the company wireless network. With people bringing their mobile devices to work and using the local wireless network to stream media, you can find your bandwidth capacity being strained or consumed, leaving critical applications such as Salesforce starving for resources. We have followed our own best practice here and set up a separate wireless network for personal devices, so there is plenty of bandwidth available for Salesforce. One way to mitigate mobile issues is to set up a separate, guest wireless network for all the tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices your workforce is using and prevent them from going on the regular internal network through the use of MAC address filtering. That way, you can dedicate bandwidth to each network separately, allowing you to control how much capacity is available to different devices.
3. Low-quality bandwidth. When a web or SaaS application such as Salesforce is slow, many companies think they should just invest in more bandwidth. This is a real problem, but before upgrading office bandwidth, IT should look into whether that is what is actually holding back their Salesforce performance. For example, in our offices here in Boston, we are getting 250 Mbps of bandwidth, and the Salesforce instances have extremely high bandwidth connectivity, but our connection to Salesforce is running at 5 Mbps.
For most of the companies we work with, getting more bandwidth isn’t going to make Salesforce faster or perform better. What will make it perform better is getting higher quality bandwidth. Web applications are TCP-based with guaranteed delivery, and small amounts of packet loss will have an incredible impact on web application performance. When a web application has 3% to 5% of packet loss, also represented by the retransmit rate in flow-based applications, the overall user experience of that application will be terrible. The solution is to make sure you’re not experiencing packet loss and retransmits on your current Internet connections and to ensure your and your ISP’s network equipment is working properly. The reason many companies upgrade from residential to business class or other dedicated circuits is to ensure tighter tolerances, better equipment and less of a chance of packet loss for their web apps.
5. Plugin usage. The average Salesforce customer has seven plugins within Salesforce, each of which can dramatically help or hurt the overall end-user experience of Salesforce. The majority of your total data transfer could actually be from these third-party plugins, which work with Salesforce to provide lead sourcing, marketing, sales and accounting capabilities. Therefore, you want to explore how much bandwidth your plugins are using, and from where these plugins are being served. The performance impact of these plugins should be a consideration when choosing between the available plugins, not just the features they have available. To gauge the full performance impact of these plugins, you need a tool that measures the full end-user experience with a real synthetic transaction, as that will allow you to see whether not only Salesforce is working properly but how your plugins are working as well.
These are the fundamental areas that you and your IT team can monitor to locate, avoid and resolve Salesforce performance issues. Even if you’re getting everything right with respect to how you’re running Salesforce, you need to make sure the entire underlying infrastructure is capable of delivering a quality Salesforce experience. At AppNeta, we spend a lot of time making sure our tools for monitoring SaaS apps like Salesforce pick up these issues before they impact the users’ experience.