DiscoverScreaming in the CloudThe World of Salesforce Cloud Development with Evelyn Grizzle
The World of Salesforce Cloud Development with Evelyn Grizzle

The World of Salesforce Cloud Development with Evelyn Grizzle

Update: 2023-07-27


Evelyn Grizzle, Senior Salesforce Developer, joins Corey on Screaming in the Cloud to discuss the often-misunderstood and always exciting world of Salesforce development. Evelyn explains why Salesforce Development is still seen as separate from traditional cloud development, and describes the work of breaking down barriers and silos between Salesforce developers and engineering departments. Corey and Evelyn discuss how a non-traditional background can benefit people who want to break into tech careers, and Evelyn reveals the best parts of joining the Salesforce community. 

About Evelyn

Evelyn is a Salesforce Certified Developer and Application Architect and 2023 Salesforce MVP Nominee. They enjoy full stack Salesforce development, most recently having built a series of Lightning Web Components that utilize a REST callout to a governmental database to verify the licensure status of a cannabis dispensary. An aspiring Certified Technical Architect candidate, Evelyn prides themself on deploying secure and scalable architecture. With over ten years of customer service experience prior to becoming a Salesforce Developer, Evelyn is adept at communicating with both technical and non-technical internal and external stakeholders. When they are not writing code, Evelyn enjoys coaching for RADWomenCode, mentoring through the Trailblazer Mentorship Program, and rollerskating.

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Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Chief Cloud Economist at The Duckbill Group, Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. But what do we mean by cloud? Well, people have the snarky answer of, it’s always someone else’s computer. I tend to view it through a lens of being someone else’s call center, which is neither here nor there.

But it all seems to come back to Infrastructure as a Service, which is maddeningly incomplete. Today, we’re going in a slightly different direction in the world of cloud. My guest today is Evelyn Grizzle, who, among many other things, is also the author of I want to be clear, that is not me being dismissive. That is the actual name of the blog. Evelyn, thank you for joining me.

Evelyn: Hi, Corey. Thank you for having me.

Corey: So, I want to talk a little bit about one of the great unacknowledged secrets of the industry, which is that every company out there, sooner or later, uses Salesforce. They talk about their cloud infrastructure, but Salesforce is nowhere to be seen in it. But, for God’s sake, at The Duckbill Group, we are a Salesforce customer. Everyone uses Salesforce. How do you think that wound up not being included in the narrative of cloud in quite the same way as AWS or, heaven forbid, Azure?

Evelyn: So, Salesforce is kind of at the proverbial kid’s table in terms of the cloud infrastructure at most companies. And this is relatively because the end-users are, you know, sales reps. We’ve got people in call centers who are working on Salesforce, taking in information, taking in leads, opportunities, creating accounts for folks. And it’s kind of seen as a lesser service because the primary users of Salesforce are not necessarily the techiest people on the planet. So, I am really passionate about, like, making sure that end-users are respected.

Salesforce actually just added a new certification, the Sales Representative Certification that you can get. That kind of gives you insight to what it’s like to use Salesforce as an end-user. And given that Salesforce is for sales, a lot of times Salesforce is kind of grouped under the Financial Services portion of a company as opposed to, like, engineering. So again, kind of at the proverbial kid’s table; we’re over in finance, and the engineering team who’s working on the website, they have their engineering stuff.

And a lot of people don’t really know what Salesforce is. So, to give a rundown, basically, Salesforce development is, I lovingly referred to it as bastard Java full-stack development. Apex, the proprietary language, is based in Java, so you have your server-side Java interface with the Salesforce relational database. There’s the Salesforce Object Query Language and Salesforce Object Search Language that you can use to interact with the database. And then you build out front-end components using HTML and JavaScript, which a lot of people don’t know.

So, it’s not only an issue of the end-users are call center reps, their analysts, they’re working on stuff that isn’t necessarily considered techie, but there’s also kind of an institutional breakdown of, like, what is Salesforce? This person is just dragging and dropping when that isn’t true. It’s actually, you know, we’re writing code, we’re doing stuff, we’re basically writing full-stack Java. So, I like to call that out.

Corey: I mean, your undergraduate degree is in network engineering, let’s be very clear. This is—I’m not speaking to you as someone who’s non-technical trying to justify what they do as being technical. You have come from a very deep place that no one would argue is, “Well, that’s not real computering.” Oh, I assure you, networking is very much real computering, and so is Salesforce. I have zero patience for this gatekeeping nonsense we see in so many areas of tech, but I found this out firsthand when we started trying to get set up with Salesforce here. It took wailing and gnashing of teeth and contractor upon contractor. Some agencies did not do super well, some people had to come in and rescue the project. And now it mostly—I think—works.

Evelyn: Yeah, and that’s what we go for. And actually, so my degree is in network engineering, but an interesting story about me. I actually went to school for chemical engineering. I hated it. It was the worst. And I dropped out of school did, like, data analytics for a while. Worked my way up as a call center rep at a telephone company and made a play into database administration. And because I was working at the phone company, my degree is in network engineering because I was like, “I want to work at the phone company forever.” Of course that did not pan out. I got a job doing Salesforce development and really enjoy it. There’s always something to learn. I taught myself Salesforce while I was working at IBM, and with the Blue Wolf department that… they’re a big Salesforce consulting shop at IBM, and through their guidance and tutelage, I guess, I did a lot of training and worked up on Salesforce. And it’s been a lot of fun.

Corey: I do feel that I need to raise my hand here and say that I am in the group you described earlier of not really understanding what Salesforce is. My first real exposure to Salesforce in anything approaching a modern era was when I was at a small consulting company that has since been bought by IBM, which rather than opine on that, what I found interesting was the Salesforce use case where we wound up using that internally to track where all the consultants were deployed, how they wound up doing on their most recent refresher skills assessment, et cetera, so that when we had something strange, like a customer coming in with, “I need someone who knows the AS/400 really well,” we could query that database internally and say, “Ah. We happen to have someone coming off of a project who does in fact, know how that system works. Let’s throw them into the mix.” And that was incredibly powerful, but I never thought of it as being a problem that a tool that was aimed primarily at sales would be effective at solving. I was very clearly wrong.

Evelyn: Yeah. So, the thing about Salesforce is there’s a bunch of different clouds that you can access. So there’s, like, Health Cloud, Service Cloud, Sales Cloud is the most common, you know, Salesforce, Sales Cloud, obviously. But Service Cloud is going to be a service-based Salesforce organization that allows you to track folks, your HR components, you’re going to track your people. There’s also Field Service Lightning.

And an interesting use case I had for Field Service Lightning, which is a application that’s built on top of Salesforce that allows field technicians to access Salesforce, one of the coolest projects I’ve built in my career so far is, the use case is, there’s an HVAC company that wants to be able to charge customers when they go out into the field. And they want to have their technician pull out an iPad, swipe the credit card, and it charges the customer for however much duct tape they used, however much piping, whatever, duct work they do. Like I said, I’m a software engineer, I’m not a HVAC person, but—

Corey: It’s the AWS building equivalent for HVAC, as best I can tell. It’s like all right, “By the metric foot-pound—” “Isn’t that a torque measurement?” “Not anymore.” Yeah, that’s how we’re going to bill you f

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The World of Salesforce Cloud Development with Evelyn Grizzle

The World of Salesforce Cloud Development with Evelyn Grizzle

Corey Quinn