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Snowflake to Salesforce External Objects

Posted by Chris Chandler | December 15, 2021

There are a number of ways to integrate data from Snowflake to Salesforce. Replication via API is a common method but Salesforce External Objects offer a compelling alternative for large and strategic Salesforce orgs.

To replicate data from Snowflake to Salesforce you have a number of options. From iPaas to Reverse ETL, even custom development, each has advantages and disadvantages.

To replicate or sync data:

  1. Sync data using Reverse ETL tools like Omnata Push, Census, or Hightouch.
  2. Use a Salesforce ecosystem tool like data loader or Mulesoft.
  3. Use the native Snowflake connector to TableauCRM

API replication is a common way to move data around that is relatively small, like lead scores or customer attributes. But it doesn't fit all use cases, particularly when datasets are large or needed closer to real-time.

Salesforce recognise the challenges of data replication

Salesforce recognise the challenges of data replication and offer the ability to virtualise data to special objects called External Objects. It's a feature enabled by the Salesforce Connect add-on and it allows you to live-query an external data source and return the results without actually copying the data to CRM objects. For this type of integration, you have option to:

  1. Connect to Snowflake directly with Omnata's native Salesforce app
  2. Connect to Snowflake through an OData middleware tool


Use cases

Replication & sync

As we touched on above, replication is a simple and easy integration method for the right types of data. It makes sense for any use case where you have a one-to-one relationship between the CRM object and the data to be ingested. For example;

Lead scores and customer attributes - each lead only has one of each metric and they don't change every minute. This is the most common use case for Reverse ETL and data syncs.

Live-query to External Objects

Virtualizing data in Salesforce means you don't actually replicate the data to CRM objects. This allows you to get around platform challenges like storage and API limits or poor performance caused by oversized custom objects. It's the best option for use cases where you have a one-to-many relationship between the CRM object and the data in Snowflake. For example;

Financial records or transactions - depending on the organisation, customers might have thousands of transactions each. It's not feasible to maintain a copy on a custom object, so external objects are the way to go.

Historical customer data - established enterprises have years of purchase history and obligations for warranties and customer service. External Objects give sales and service teams the ability to look up historical records in real-time from millions of records.

SaaS product metrics - modern software vendors often have large and complex data models generated by their products. Usage-based pricing can generate millions of records per day that can't be ingested to the CRM.

External Objects have many more applications in industries like healthcare, education and ecommerce. In fact, all large Salesforce orgs can benefit from rearchitecting in this way.


What about the middleware?

Previously, Salesforce Connect and External Objects were synonymous with OData maintained in a middleware platform like Mulesoft, Informatica or Skyvia.

However, with next-gen data platforms like Snowflake, you no longer need this middleware layer to broker the exchange. Omnata connects to Snowflake directly from a native Salesforce app, with no middleware.

Our vision is that 'no middleware' is the future of data integration.

Not only does this save significant iPaaS development time and offers far greater flexibility and agility compared to OData. But the app breezes through security reviews as Omnata runs within the trusted boundary of Salesforce.


Increase the value of data

Salesforce Connect has been around for a while and External Objects are one of the lesser known features of the Salesforce platform. Given the new era of data platforms with true cloud connectivity, this add-on is finally coming of age. It's one of the simplest ways you can improve user processes and workflows that rely on external data. Stop sending your users off to other systems or BI reports and bring the data to the point of action.

Omnata is trusted by companies like Vonage, Honeysuckle Health and the West Australian Government.

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