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You should always test changes to your Salesforce system in a Salesforce sandbox before integrating them into your production system. Here you can find out what types of sandboxes Salesforce offers, how you can best integrate them into your development line, and what licensing model you can expect.

Definition and use cases

A Salesforce sandbox is a copy of your Salesforce organization that takes over the configuration of your system and, if necessary, some data, but is decoupled from the production system. There are various use cases in which it makes sense for small or large changes to the Salesforce system to be tested first in an isolated environment and not to take effect directly in the production system.

Use cases for Salesforce sandboxes

  • Testing new features
  • Structure analogous to the ERP test landscape: Check whether processes work end-to-end
  • Parallel development of various requirements in possibly different teams, which are later consolidated in a central test system before they are switched to productive use
  • Development close to the live system, as updating with live data (partial / full copy) and metadata is possible

What types of Salesforce sandboxes are available to users?

Sandboxes can basically be created in both Salesforce Classic and Salesforce Lightning Experience. The range of functions differs depending on the edition used (Professional, Enterprise, etc.) and the selected sandbox type.

Salesforce offers four different types of sandboxes. Each variant has its own advantages and disadvantages. There is no single best sandbox - instead, a decision has to be made depending on the purpose.

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Developer sandbox

The simplest version of the sandbox is the developer sandbox. It contains the configuration of the production system (metadata) and is suitable for small developments and for testing. The sandbox can be updated once a day. The storage space for data is very small at 200 MB.

Developer Pro sandbox

Salesforce also has a pro version of the Developer Sandbox in its portfolio. The range of functions is identical to the smaller version and the update frequency is the same as once a day. However, you can store 1GB of data in the Developer Pro Sandbox so that larger developments can also be carried out. The version is also well suited for integration tests and user training as well as quality assurance tasks.

Partial copy sandbox

A partial copy sandbox contains - as the name suggests - a partial copy of the production system, i. H. Configuration and data. You can specify which data is to be transferred using a sandbox template. At 5 GB, the memory for data is large enough to carry out tests on transferred productive data. The interval between two updates increases to 5 days. Salesforce recommends using the partial copy sandbox for quality assurance, integration testing, training, and user acceptance testing.

Full sandbox

The full sandbox offers the largest storage space. With it you can map your productive system 1: 1, i. H. take over all data and metadata. The sandbox is primarily used for performance testing, load testing, and staging. You can limit the amount of data using a sandbox template. However, it is not recommended to use the full sandbox for small development tests, as the update interval is 29 days. In these cases, a Developer (Pro) Sandbox is much more suitable.

Salesforce Sandbox: Pricing and Licenses

Sandbox instances are included in the Salesforce licenses to varying degrees. How many licenses a sandbox instance includes and which licenses are compatible with your Salesforce system depends on the Salesforce edition you are using.

Figure 1 Salesforce Sandbox licenses

In addition to the included licenses, you can purchase additional individual sandboxes. The pricing for this is, however, not very transparent. The pricing must be clarified individually and is - based on experience - dependent on the ongoing license costs.

Please note that the licenses are assigned hierarchically, i. H. With the purchase of a full sandbox license, you can also use sandboxes of the lower licenses:

Figure 2 Salesforce sandboxes hierarchy

Integration into the development line

If you work with sandboxes, there should always be only one line of development, which is divided into three consecutive systems.

Innovations in the dev system

As a rule, a single sandbox or a single dev system is sufficient; several such systems should be used if various requirements are to be developed simultaneously and independently of one another. In this case, consolidation takes place on the QA system.

Test run: Developments tested on the QA system.

The system is a sandbox and thus a partial copy of the production environment with a limited set of data. Depending on which Salesforce edition is used, the restriction can avoid high additional costs. The system is only used for testing and training purposes and is not used for development.
After the successful QA, the developments are brought to the productive system (Prod). All employees work on this system:

Figure 3 Sequence of dev system, QA system and productive system

If employee training courses are often carried out in which they are also supposed to create test data, the development line described can lead to problems, as the developments and features can disrupt or impair the training. To avoid this, another sandbox can be set up for training.

Figure 4 Sandbox for training

The relevant metadata (developments, objects, page layouts, ...) are transported from the QA system to the training environment before a training course and are then available there. Training activities then no longer affect the development line. However, there is also a disadvantage here: Each time, additional work arises to bring the training environment up to date.

Alternatives to Salesforce Sandbox

In addition to sandboxes, Salesforce also offers the Developer Edition for test and development purposes. However, the areas of application are different.

While the sandboxes can be integrated into the development line and connected to the production system, this is not the case with the Developer Edition. The advantage of the Developer Edition, however, is that it offers a significantly larger scope of services. Extensive developments and integrations should only be implemented in the Developer Edition. It's free and includes all features. The Developer Edition is a great way to test new ideas and develop personally.

Please contact us if you have any questions about Salesforce Sandbox or the Alternative Developer Edition.

Robert Richter

My name is Robert Richter and I am an enthusiastic Salesforce Consultant at mindsquare. Like my colleagues, I have turned my hobby into a job.

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