PREFACE: This post is part of the Zero to Hero series.

In the last post, we looked at how Salesforce is structured as a database. This was an important concept to understand because without a good knowledge of the relational database concepts building solutions and even generating reports becomes difficult.

Today we are going to learn about technology platforms and learn about some of the technologies that make up the Platform.

What is a Platform?

A platform is a foundation. When building a house, you must start with a solid foundation in order to put up walls and a roof. Technology platforms are very similar. Techopedia defines a platform as:

…a group of technologies that are used as a base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed.

Salesforce has a number of underlying technologies that enable Administrators to build complex processes, automate actions and even build new configuration like objects and applications with clicks (called ‘declarative development’) and code.

Technology companies are offering platforms for nearly everything now. Here are some examples of platforms you probably use:

  • Microsoft Azure allows developers to build applications of all kinds in the cloud including Xbox games.
  • Google Chrome allows developers to create fully functional apps that run in the browser.
  • iOS and Android have developer tools which allow companies to create mobile applications which can be installed by a user.
  • Windows and OSX are very common platforms that we all use.
  • Admin Hero uses a platform called WordPress which allows me to build and customize this site.

We are surrounded by platforms and you probably didn’t even know it. Platform Technology

The platform is 100% cloud based. This means that all of the technologies of the platform are accessible via the internet. There are no servers that your company needs to purchase or maintain, no code to write or software updates to install. Salesforce handles all of the infrastructure so you can focus on building awesome stuff.

There are certain platform technologies built into the platform and I think they are important to understand.


Multi-tenant Architecture

Salesforce’s databases are multi-tenant meaning that the entire Salesforce customer base is using a single, common database and a common set of code.

Every Salesforce customer gets their own private section of the single larger database. This type of architecture allows Salesforce to release upgrades and bug fixes automatically to all customers at once because every org shares the same technology.

There are some common examples of multi-tenant architecture which you are familiar with:

  • Google Apps
  • Gmail
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • ebay
  • Amazon

The benefit of a multi-tenant architecture is the overall low cost and the speed with which customers can deploy solutions. There is no need for a customer to purchase Salesforce then go through an install process before deploying or to upgrade.

Every customer, regardless of how long they have been a customer, is running the most recent and secure version of the application and can deploy new functionality very quickly.


API stands for Application Programming Interface (Wikipedia) and allows developers to quickly build a lot of functionality with tools provided by the platform. Think of an API as a bridge between platforms and systems.

APIs are used to connect Salesforce to other systems for better overall functionality and user experience. For example, an API can connect Salesforce to your companies ERP or billing system.

The Platform is API first which means that the API is built from the start and all of the platform technologies are accessible via an API. You will probably not have to work with APIs much, but knowing the basics is always beneficial. Thankfully for you, this is the extent to which we will cover APIs.

However, if you are interested in reading and learning more, there is a lot of information in the API Reference Guide.


Apex is a custom coding language developed by Salesforce specifically to work well with their platform. This programming language, which is similar to Java, was designed to leverage the platform’s technologies and the types of data that the system would house.

The language provides a uniquely powerful and productive approach to creating functionality and logic, allowing developers to focus just on the elements specific to their application, while leaving the rest of the ‘plumbing’ to the platform. ( Fundamentals)

Again, we won’t cover Apex in this series, but more information can be found on the Developer site.


Visualforce is a UI (user interface) framework which is used to design and display custom pages in Salesforce. Visualforce is powerful enough to totally overhaul the look and feel of the Salesforce UI. Visualforce renders into HTML which allows an endless series of possibilities for customizing the UI and building solutions to fit the business need.


Salesforce’s AppExchange is a marketplace where customers and 3rd party companies can publish configured solutions to specific business problems and Salesforce users can browse and install these applications into their specific Salesforce org. Apps include anything from pre-built dashboards to payroll management to survey applications and more.

Congratulations! You have just completed the second lesson in the Zero to Hero series! Give yourself a pat on the back – you’re doing great!

Do you have questions or comments? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to give a response.


14 thoughts on “ Platform Basics ”

  1. Brent,

    Thank you for taking the time to explain basics of a database and I am working as an administrator for the first time and studying to be certified in SFDC. Understanding this information builds my platform for understanding and designing objects that work with my business model.

    I am looking forward to next week.


  2. very good concepts

    but i feel indeapth knowledge require for beggnirs

    from sales force

    im a fresher for sales force need explntion some real time scnriors



    1. Thanks for your comment. Follow the Zero to Hero series from start to finish and it will walk you through the basics of Salesforce. If you need additional scenarios to work through, think of other areas of your personal life that would benefit from using Salesforce and build it! Otherwise, you can check the Success Community for additional tips or tricks.


      1. thnk u for ur suggesion

        may i know wt type of jobs we may get after finishng admin part

        need full explantion about sales force history and y should we learn sales force than other technlogies


    1. That is covered in Chapter 3 of the Zero to Hero series. It goes into the basics of relationships and record types. The post is called “Hands-on With Page Layouts and Record Types.”


  3. ooops another typo…”There is no need for a customer to purchase Salesforce then go through an instillation process.” Methinks you meant, “installation”…if the other is a word…we’d be instilling values along the way…ha ha ha…

    Thanks again!! I really like your direct methods and analogies!! Lisa


  4. Brent— I hope these aren’t annoying, but helpful…” can deploy new functionality very quick.” the last word should be quickly.

    “API can connect Salesforce to your companies ERP or billing system.” should be, “…you company’s ERP or billing system.”

    Thanks again!! Lisa


    1. Hey Lisa! Thanks for your sharp eye! I wish I had a copywriter but I have really awesome users who help me with that! I’ve made the updates. Thanks for reading; I’m super happy that it is helping! If you are coming to Dreamforce this year, don’t forget to track me down!


  5. Hi Brent,
    I have recently subscribed to your zero to hero series and it looks awesome for someone like me having zero salesforce experience. I am aiming for admin certificate and have just started and have loads of questions and with so much of online data available to read adds to the confusion. I wanted to know once I complete the zero to hero series what should be my next step. I saw lots of comments about trailblazers but could not understand what or how exactly does it help. If you could shed some light on it, it would be helpful.


    1. You bet! The Zero to Hero series is really meant to get you up to speed with some of the basics, and terminology. It is not meant to be a full training program for everything Salesforce. After going through the Zero to Hero series, you have a few options including beginning Trailhead (, signing up for the Admin certification training class, or using other resources to help you expand your knowledge (like volunteering, or leveraging content from other bloggers). I hope that helps!


  6. OSX or other operating systems are a platform; I didn’t realize that; I thought these were computer operating systems. Also, Outlook eMail client is an architecture; I didn’t realize that either, I thought it was a software application.


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