To say companies are adopting more SaaS applications would be a vast understatement. Over the past decade, cloud firms have grown 14 times faster
than the S&P 500. SaaS’ conquest of on-premises applications is nearly complete. Every department can purchase its own “best-of-breed” anything. Yet all that choice and high-powered specialization has come at a cost.
Rather than one enterprise application vendor, a firm may have twenty. And rather than one monolithic system, it may have dozens. All those systems require integrations, and those integrations create their own problems, which Salto is uniquely situated to solve.
In this article, I’ll explore the context behind why we’ve worked so hard to build Salto’s cross-application configuration functionality—the only of its kind in SaaS—and how it can help you deploy with greater confidence.
The need for a universal configuration language
To work harmoniously, marketing, sales, and finance teams must navigate a tangle of APIs and iPaaS. Most application vendors provide well-documented and comprehensive APIs or a great choice of no-code/low-code solutions for automating integration workflows. But while these connectors move data, they don’t necessarily address the needs of the business applications teams who manage these systems. Business applications teams don’t just need to move data—they need to architect durable systems, debug issues, and make tweaks to help their various constituents. They need to understand precisely what’s happening within and across those applications.
APIs and iPaaS are powerful, but fail to address these issues, as evidenced by the fact that nearly every company using them still faces:
Business engineers face a few unique challenges. Firstly, the role is fairly new so there aren’t a lot of best practices or methodologies to rely on. This means these folks rely on the interfaces of each application, which often thoroughly lack the safeguards and time-saving principles you might expect from systems so crucial to a company. This all means that errors are frequent, and they tend to cascade across a business until suddenly, they wipe away revenue. Which is what happened with organizations from Avon to HP.
Disconnected silos: Integrations may connect the finance and sales departments, but each staff has its own systems and administrators. Getting them to agree is sometimes difficult.
Environmental complexity: SaaS applications are always evolving. If everything in your tech stack is always changing and releasing new features, it’s difficult to keep them in sync. The SaaS application development lifecycle also requires deploying changes from environment to environment across multiple integrated applications, each with different characteristics.
Inability to foretell how changes will impact integrations: After you’ve connected applications to one another, you need to be sure you understand how changes in each application affect the entire integrated suite. Otherwise, you can’t identify and address the root cause of issues.
Maintaining compliance: Many integrations serve vital, and sometimes, regulated, functions, such as quote to cash. Being able to audit any changes there is critical, and isn’t something connectors offer.
This is all to say, your enterprise applications can all be connected and still not fully knit together. They can converse, but inconsistently. What they need is one common language for central administrators to understand the whole.
To learn more about Salto's cross-application capabilities, watch this video:
Salto offers that universal configuration language
Salto allows you to get better use of your “best-of-breed” applications by knocking down the silos. It allows for a universal understanding of what’s happening within your business applications, as well as the control to make changes.
Salto does this using a human-readable, hcl-based universal configuration language. It describes the objects and relationships within all applications in one, consistent way. So, whether an administrator is looking at Salesforce or NetSuite, the language is the same. This makes those systems comparable, and administrators able to work in multiple.
This allows us to understand how changes propagate across applications. And because it’s human-readable, we can leverage version control tools to capture states and automate some activities, such as migrating changes between environments. It also provides the traceability needed for compliance.
Perhaps most importantly, unlike other systems, Salto is consistent across applications. That allows business applications teams to manage those application “stacks” the way they actually function—as a series of interrelated systems. This, in turn, allows you to deploy with greater confidence.
Deploy changes with confidence
As organizations grow, so does the number of employees and environments required to support those implementations. At the development stage, many organizations use a sandbox per developer for parallel development, and then merge the changes into a QA or staging environment where new features are tested and pushed to production. But when dealing with multiple integrated applications, each with its own set of developers and sandboxes, the complexity is far greater. So is the chance for human error.
If you have a common blueprint for one or more applications, on the other hand, changes can be reliably deployed between environments. Using NaCl in combination with a version control system, engineers can view the configuration in a consistent manner, regardless of the origin SaaS application, review and approve changes. These changes can then be deployed automatically using Salto’s Deploy feature, employed from any CI/CD tool.
Understanding the impact of change
The benefits don’t end there. Once an integration project is complete, the team has to ensure things won’t break in the future. This requires understanding how that application affects others. With a common blueprint such as Salto provides, it’s possible to assess the impact of a change across applications, and see how adjustments propagate to other infrastructure.
Salto’s Change Impact Analysis feature provides this visibility. You can also use Salto’s Trackers for continuously monitoring configuration changes. If you set a tracker, you’ll be alerted when a change is applied to an area that might affect an integration.
Use case: quote-to-cash
To demonstrate how you can use the NaCl universal configuration language and Salto to capture common cross SaaS application configurations, we’ve implemented part of quote-to-cash using Salesforce (opportunities), NetSuite (sales orders) and Workato (integration workflow). (Salto now supports all three applications as part of its new release
Universal configurations, local confidence
The end impact of knowing what changes were made across your applications is greater certainty. Your data doesn’t simply move—its movements are documented, they can be investigated, and you can build an entire release and monitoring process around changes to ensure integrations are doing what your company needs them to do.
And, if it’s important now, it’ll only grow more so. SaaS companies may have beaten the S&P 500 over the last decade, but the lead is picking up. Companies need to get these cross-application configurations figured out now—and Salto can help.