Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What does PaaS stand for? Why is Salesforce Platform better than other solutions? What are Lightning and Heroku Enterprise? These are the questions we hear a lot and you’ll find the answers below. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us — we’re here to help.

Defining “enterprise cloud platform” begins with understanding cloud computing. At the most basic level, cloud computing solutions deliver data and application functionality through the web, rather than having them reside on a user’s desktop/laptop/mobile device, hardware drive, or in what are otherwise known as on-premises solutions.

As a result, IT departments no longer need to worry about buying and provisioning servers to hold company data and can instead focus on creating applications that help the business run faster. And they don’t have to worry about installing applications on every device for every user in a business. Instead, users with web access simply log in to an app to access, share, and collaborate on relevant data and business processes immediately.

Enterprise cloud platforms are specifically designed to help drive every department of a business with apps. The apps you build can scale for growth, allow for customization (by developers, IT departments, business users, or all three), and are highly secure.

Salesforce has been a leader in enterprise cloud computing since 1999, virtually creating the category. Today, Salesforce has more than 100,000 customers and continues to be a recognised leader in cloud computing for businesses of all sizes, and in nearly every industry.


Salesforce Platform brings together all the tools and services that have made us the world's #1 enterprise cloud platform. With a unified ecosystem for building, managing, buying, and optimising apps — all built on Salesforce's trusted cloud infrastructure — Salesforce Platform empowers CIOs with everything they need to quickly build apps in any language, for any device, and manage them all in a single enterprise cloud environment.

There are four basic ways a business can make apps for a company: 1) On-premises solutions, 2) Infrastructure-as-a-service solutions, 3) Platform-as-a-service solutions, and 4) Software-as-a-service solutions. Salesforce Platform is a Platform as a service (PaaS).

On-premises solutions require the IT department to build the entire solution on its own, from the servers to the code database. While it means granular control of hardware, software, infrastructure and networking, it’s expensive, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. Upgrades are hard to manage and it’s not always easy to move the technology forward in pace with changing business needs.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides raw data center capacity so that IT can take advantage of virtual machines, managed storage and networks, and shared physical and network security, as well as utility pricing that changes proportionally as you scale. However, IaaS still requires heavy IT involvement for integrating data, and building and maintaining apps and users.

Platform as a service (PaaS) and offers everything Infrastructure as a service delivers, as well the operating systems, middleware, and runtime tools that allow IT and others in the business to build apps and deploy apps quickly, and integrate data from other sources like SAP and Oracle, and the tools and services to manage it all.

Software as a service (SaaS) delivers packaged apps that are ready to go for users with a web browser and internet access. The apps, built on a cloud database from an underlying platform, typically deliver software on a monthly subscription. Salesforce has been a leader in SaaS since 1999.

Salesforce was the first company to deliver Platform as a service to companies around the world, and it delivers it as few others do or can.

For customers using Salesforce apps like Sales Cloud, Salesforce Platform makes it possible to bring a deeply customised user experience to any device and any employee. It also offers employees Chatter, a social collaboration platform designed for business that lets them securely share files and collaborate on work, find experts quickly, create working groups with vendors and customers outside the company, and more.

Companies can also use Salesforce Platform to quickly build apps that deliver amazing customer experiences, connect employees within the organisation, automate business processes across the company or within a department, and integrate data from third parties into apps built on the platform. Because any apps made on Salesforce Platform are 100% cloud, built API-first, they can be made mobile instantly. There are no servers to find and provision, security is built-in, setup for analytics and reporting is already taken care of, and Salesforce Platform's shared data model ensures that data is not siloed, meaning it’s available everywhere, on any device.
Lightning is primarily designed for the development and deployment of cloud-based employee-facing apps using Apex as its programming language. It allows developers to create apps and websites through the cloud IDE (integrated development environment) and deploy them quickly to Lightnings multitenant servers. Apex can be used to execute programmed functions during most processes on the Lightningplatform, including custom buttons and links, event handlers on record creation, and updates or deletions and via the custom controllers of Visualforce.

Lightning also offers point-and-click tools that help business users create apps quickly that help get business done faster, without creating headaches for IT departments. And, even better, the IT department and developer can go back to the apps created by business users and iterate on them to make them better.
Heroku Enterprise is similar to Lightning in that its primary purpose is to give developers the tools they need to build apps. The key difference is that Heroku is designed for the development and deployment of -cloudbased, external-facing, scalable apps for customers rather than employee-facing, internal apps.

Heroku Enterprise also allows developers to build in any programming language rather than just Apex, including Ruby on Rails, Node.js, Python, Java, and more. Heroku apps can run on any device and can link to social accounts so that customers can like, share, and take other public actions straight from the app.
Using Heroku Enterprise and Lightning together helps companies create stronger, more lasting relationships with their customers. Companies can sync user data from Heroku with relevant internal employee apps and get an easy-to-digest view of the information in dashboards, allowing them to quickly see customer insights and take action on them.
Heroku is best for companies that want to build fully custom apps that use programming languages other than Apex in order to create scalable, global, external-facing applications. 

Lightning is optimal for the development of process-driven apps and is ideal for the business user who wants to create internal apps and doesn’t have a technical background in development; tools are point and click and easy to use.
Salesforce Platform is built on a multitenant infrastructure, which means that your apps are run on a shared data center, lowering costs and reducing the need to devote resources (time, money, and people) to maintenance. The robust and flexible security architecture of the platform is trusted by companies around the world, including those in the most heavily regulated industries — from financial services to healthcare to government — and it provides the highest level of security and control over everything from user and client authentication through administrative permissions, to the data access and sharing model, including:

Org Security: Salesforce protects your organisation's data from all other customer organisations by using a unique identifier that restricts access at every level to your data from anyone outside of your company — including us. User Security: User authentication (both delegated and SAML) combined with network-level security by IP address, session restrictions, and audit trails provides control and visibility into what users are doing in the system and their field history.

Programmatic Security: Configurable, authenticated sessions secure access to logic, data, and metadata. Salesforce even offers a source code scanner that produces a report analysing the security of your code.

Trust and Visibility: Trust starts with transparency. Salesforce displays real time information on system performance and security, and offers tips on best security practices for your organisation. Learn more at:
Visualforce is the component-based user interface framework for the Lightning platform. The framework includes a tag-based markup language, similar to HTML. Each Visualforce tag corresponds to a coarse or fine-grained user interface component, such as a section of a page, or a field. Visualforce boasts about 100 built-in components, and a mechanism whereby developers can create their own components.

Visualforce uses the traditional model-view-controller (MVC) paradigm, with the option to use auto-generated controllers for database objects, providing simple and tight integration with the database. You can write your own controllers, or extensions to controllers, using Apex Code. Visualforce also provides AJAX components, and embeds the formula expression language for action, data, and component binding interaction.
The Salesforce Mobile App is more than just a mobile version of Salesforce. Built API-first, it’s a mobile container for any business app you build on the Salesforce platform, including mobile-ready apps built on the Salesforce Platform from AppExchange.
Because Lightning is built 100% in the cloud with a unified data model and is API-first, any app built on it can be deployed instantly to the Salesforce Mobile App, which is also built on Lightning. In fact, to make an app mobile-enabled only requires making sure that Salesforce is enabled and saved in the Mobile Administration setup. Additionally, admins can control who has access to the app within an organization.

On Salesforce Platform, custom objects are the building blocks that make an app. Every user of an app needs access to the objects that are in that app, so every person accessing apps requires a subscription.

What’s included:
Powerful apps with access to 10 custom objects per user
A customizable employee app
Mobile Services and SDK
Workflow and approvals
Sharing and user access
Salesforce Identity
Point-and-click development
Real-time APIs
Reports and dashboards
Private AppExchange
Cloud database

Salesforce Lightning gives developers access to the framework that delivers the Salesforce user experience, enabling them to create their own app components quickly and easily.

In addition, Salesforce Lightning also offers App Builder and Lightning Components on AppExchange, both of which help developers, IT, and businesses build apps and user experiences quickly.

Every major consumer website uses components. When you open a normal webpage, you see the page as a complete experience. In reality, however, it is actually a set of components stitched together behind the scenes. For example, on a Yahoo page, the center news feed is one component surrounded by other components, like the ad units, sidebars, and so forth, as a framework.

Salesforce Lightning brings these same component framework concepts to the enterprise, offering a set of premade components to start. This means developers and IT now have a framework that components can easily be made on, and in turn, used to assemble apps.

Salesforce also offers developers and partners the capability to create their own components, which means businesses can compose apps with premade components from Salesforce, make their own custom components, or use components made by AppExchange partners. Salesforce Lightning tools also allow these premade components to be assembled and reassembled specifically for any screen with drag-and-drop ease. 

No. Salesforce Platform provides easy-to-use point-and-click tools that give business users with little to no technical background the capability to quickly develop custom applications. To see how easy it is to quickly create custom applications on Salesforce Platform, visit our free Trailhead tutorial.

You don’t need to be a developer or know code to create new business applications; it’s as simple as pointing and clicking, then dragging and dropping components. You can try point-and-click development now by visiting our free Trailhead tutorial.

AppExchange is an online marketplace for third-party applications that run on Salesforce Platform, and are specifically made with Lightning Applications are available for free, as well as on yearly or monthly subscription models. 

No. There’s no infrastructure or software to buy, set up, or manage. Any company of any size with virtually any budget can choose the package with the tools it needs to start building custom cloud applications that immediately help accelerate every area of the business.

Our free trial is your chance to try out the Salesforce Platform free for 30 days (you can even extend your trial — contact sales directly to request an extension). The free trial includes everything you need to build and run custom apps — plus packaged apps from AppExchange — for any department in your business.

Developer edition is a free personal Salesforce instance (org) that has all the capabilities of our Employee Apps license to set up users, create objects, add business logic, and ultimately create and deploy an app.

A Developer edition account cannot be converted to a production account.

While Salesforce customers already benefit from many trust capabilities such as login history, setup audit trail, sharing, two-factor authentication, and IP restrictions and password policies, some customers want more. For customers who have additional needs, Salesforce Shield includes three additional solutions to give customers increased confidentiality, data integrity, and compliance with internal and external regulations:

Event Monitoring lets customers see who is accessing what data from where and monitor user and system activity.

Field Audit Trail lets customers define a complete data lifecycle policy, letting them understand the state of data at any time for up to 10 years and easily comply with industry and financial regulations.

Platform Encryption lets customers seamlessly encrypt sensitive data at rest while still allowing business users to preserve key Salesforce features like search, workflow, and validation rules.

Because Salesforce Shield is built native on the Salesforce platform, it is seamlessly integrated into all your Salesforce apps. Customers can turn on Salesforce Shield in an afternoon.

As companies move more sensitive data to the cloud, they may want additional mechanisms to protect that data. All customer data is encrypted in transit via https, using Transport Layer Security. For customers who want to encrypt data at rest, Salesforce offers customers the ability to seamlessly encrypt sensitive data at rest with just a few clicks. There is no additional hardware or software to manage and customers can encrypt PHI, PII, trade secrets, or other data on a field-by-field basis using point-and-click tools in an afternoon. As Platform Encryption is a native encryption at rest solution in Salesforce, customers can continue to use important application functionality like search, workflow, and validation rules.

Customers maintain full control over the keys and key lifecycle, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of that data to meet both external and internal data compliance needs. Because Platform Encryption is built natively in Salesforce, data can be encrypted throughout the Salesforce ecosystem, including in partner apps built by ISVs on the Salesforce AppExchange.

Questions? We’ll put you on the right path.

Ask about Salesforce products, pricing, implementation, or anything else. Our knowledgeable reps are standing by, ready to help. Or check out our Pricing and Packaging Guide to learn more.