Salesforce lets Genie out of the bottle

Integration tooling might work for those with multiple installs, but check the budget first – analyst

Global CRM giant Salesforce has launched data lake and streaming software to help clients bring together customer data in real time.

According to the SaaS vendor, Genie is a hyperscale real-time data platform that powers the entire Salesforce Customer 360 platform.

It is based on Hyperforce, the public cloud service co-CEO Bret Taylor once said was the most significant technological shift since the company's inception. It currently runs on AWS.

There's nothing new in the concept of real-time CRM. In fact, the concept goes back at least 20 years, when one Ovum analyst was discussing the idea.

But Jason Wong, Gartner distinguished veep and analyst, said the organizations that would gain the most from Genie are those already using multiple Salesforce products, especially industry cloud clients.

"The pre-built data models will be critical to helping clients accelerate implementations," Wong said. "Using Genie, they will be able to use a configuration-based approach to unify data from multiple data sources — both Salesforce-based and external. This provides a platform-level unification layer that sits on top of Hyperforce, which also relies on key underlying AWS services."

Genie, Salesforce said, employs a lakehouse-style architecture, borrowing a concept from Databricks to combine the idea of the data lake with the SQL queries of the data warehouse.

Salesforce has also announced a further partnership with Snowflake, the cloud data warehousing outfit famed for its ballooning valuation. Between them, the companies claim to offer secure, real time, and open data sharing between their two environments, allowing Genie to directly access data stored in Snowflake, and vice versa, the idea being that clients get a real-time view of all customer interactions and history across both platforms without moving or duplicating data.

"Snowflake integration shows the potential of how Genie's lakehouse architecture can work with other data warehouses for more seamless data exchanges," Gartner's Wong said.

"The integration with [data visualization and analytics software] Tableau is important because key technology from Tableau is actually embedded in Genie. Other analytics tools can also be used but Salesforce is increasingly trying to build frictionless experiences across their product portfolio to drive value."

He argued that as Salesforce was seeing more clients holding CRM and other business data in more than one hyperscaler's cloud, Genie could help them make the most of their customer data and software investments.

"Gartner has witnessed many clients attempting to build with best of breed tools for what Salesforce Genie is doing, and it's incredibly challenging, so the offering should resonate if the pricing model works out," Wong said.

While Genie might promise a more "frictionless" approach to integrating and accessing data for companies already deep into Salesforce, for those with customer data in all sorts of business applications and repositories, it might be less useful.

In Arabic mythology, a genie or jinn can be evil and mischievous as well as wish-fulfilling. As always with monolithic software projects, businesses should be careful what they wish for. ®

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