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Understand the Power of Metadata

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Define metadata in an easy, simple way.
  • Show how metadata drives maximum flexibility for customers.
  • Know why metadata allows us to make seamless upgrades.
  • Explain how metadata makes platform as a service possible.

Demystifying Metadata

You’re not alone if the concept of metadata leaves you feeling a little dazed and confused. Don’t worry, it’s actually a lot simpler than it sounds; it just takes a little explaining. So stick with us as we walk you through our metadata-driven architecture, and show you exactly why it’s so important in helping us deliver customer success.

Don't be afraid of metadata; it's at the core of Salesforce.

Metadata is widely defined as “data about data”, but what does that really mean? When we talk about metadata at Salesforce, we’re talking about our metadata-driven architecture that allows each customer to customize their own instance of Salesforce.

Still a little cloudy? (Pun intended) What if I told you that you could learn everything you need to know from some really connected farm animals? In the video below, you’ll meet our good friends over at Edgar’s Mission, and see how they use Salesforce’s metadata platform to rescue and care for the furry faces that they take in.

Sheep who don’t follow the herd; not something you see everyday. Now let’s talk about how they’re using our metadata-driven platform

As you saw in the video, Edgar's Mission created their own custom tab called "Animals" to help them track each of their barnyard residents. Using that Animals tab, employees at Edgar's Mission can add information about every sheep, chicken, and goat they work with. This is great for Edgar’s Mission, but it's great for you too! Maybe you don't call it “Accounts” or “Animals.” For you it may be “Stores,” “Patients,” or “Buyers.” It’s all up to you!

The custom tab, the custom fields, the automatic reminders, even any standard reports and Chatter they might wish to use—all of this is metadata. It's the structure of your Salesforce instance, with all of your custom and standard functionality.

Salesforce separates our customers’ customizations into a special metadata layer, so we can update and improve our platform in the background without touching any of their data or customizations. That means that we can give Edgar’s Mission (and all of our other customers) upgrades three times per year with great new features without altering their farm data or breaking their custom “Animals” tab.

Because their metadata exists in its own layer, Edgar’s mission can customize to their heart’s content. And instead of devoting a resource to developing an infrastructure and keeping things up and running, they can staff up where it counts for their most important customers... in the paddock.

Fueled by the easy accessibility of the metadata layer, the cloud, and Software as a Service (SaaS), this is, ultimately, the power of the platform. It allows you to innovate quickly, and get to market faster with solutions for your customers, partners, and employees—or even your sheep!

Makes Sense, Right?

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Now you can talk about metadata at fancy cocktail parties and impress all your friends. But even more importantly, we’re hoping that understanding the in and outs of our technology helps you see the value we place on trust and scalability for our customers.

It’s also what enables our customers to move as fast as they need to go. Let’s talk more about their need for speed in the next unit.