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Salesforce and Big Data: Exploring Large-Scale Data Processing with External Systems

By Nick Huber
Published in Data Science
July 23, 2023
2 min read
Salesforce and Big Data: Exploring Large-Scale Data Processing with External Systems

In the data-driven landscape, businesses face the challenge of processing vast amounts of data efficiently. Salesforce, as a powerful CRM platform, offers comprehensive solutions for managing customer data. However, for large-scale data processing and advanced analytics, integrating Salesforce with external big data systems becomes imperative. In this blog post, we’ll explore how Salesforce can leverage external big data systems like Apache Spark to perform large-scale data processing and gain deeper insights.

Understanding Big Data Challenges

The term “big data” refers to datasets that are too large and complex for traditional data processing applications to handle effectively. Traditional databases may struggle to cope with big data’s volume, velocity, and variety, leading to challenges in data storage, processing, and analysis. To overcome these challenges, businesses adopt big data technologies like Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark.

The Power of External Big Data Systems

While Salesforce provides robust data storage and analytics capabilities, integrating with external big data systems brings several advantages:

  1. Scalability: External big data systems can scale horizontally to handle massive datasets, ensuring efficient processing even as data volumes grow.

  2. Distributed Processing: Parallel processing in big data systems accelerates data analysis, allowing organizations to obtain real-time insights.

  3. Advanced Analytics: Big data technologies support sophisticated analytics, including machine learning and predictive modeling, enabling deeper insights and data-driven decision-making.

  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Cloud-based big data platforms offer cost-effective solutions for data storage and processing, eliminating the need for expensive on-premises infrastructure.

Integration with Salesforce

Salesforce offers various methods to integrate with external big data systems:

  1. Heroku Connect with External Systems: Heroku Connect synchronizes data between Salesforce and external big data systems in real-time, facilitating seamless data flow and analytics.

  2. Using REST APIs: Salesforce’s REST APIs enable integration with external big data systems to retrieve or push data for processing and analysis.

  3. Data Loader and Bulk API: Salesforce Data Loader and Bulk API efficiently transfer large datasets between Salesforce and big data systems.

  4. Event-Driven Architecture: Leveraging platform events or Salesforce’s Streaming API, actions in external big data systems can be triggered based on data changes in Salesforce.

Real-Life Use Case: Customer Segmentation

Let’s explore a real-life use case that demonstrates the value of integrating Salesforce with external big data systems:

Customer Segmentation: Analyzing data from Salesforce (e.g., customer information, interactions, purchase history) combined with data from external sources (e.g., social media, website behavior, survey responses) allows businesses to apply Apache Spark’s machine learning capabilities. This facilitates customer segmentation based on behavior and demographics, enabling targeted marketing campaigns and personalized experiences.

# Example: Customer Segmentation using Apache Spark
from pyspark.sql import SparkSession
# Initialize Spark Session
spark = SparkSession.builder.appName("Customer Segmentation").getOrCreate()
# Fetch data from Salesforce Account object
query = "SELECT Id, Name, Industry, AnnualRevenue FROM Account"
accounts = salesforce.query(query)
# Convert Salesforce data to Spark DataFrame
df = spark.createDataFrame(accounts)
# Apply Machine Learning Algorithms (e.g., k-means clustering) for customer segmentation
# ...

By integrating Apache Spark with Salesforce, businesses gain deeper insights into customer behavior, improve engagement, and make strategic decisions based on data-driven insights.


Salesforce’s integration with external big data systems empowers organizations to unlock the full potential of their data and achieve data-driven success. By combining Salesforce’s CRM capabilities with the scalability and advanced analytics of external big data systems, businesses can stay competitive and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of customer needs and preferences.

The future lies in harnessing the power of big data technologies to derive valuable insights, personalize customer experiences, and fuel innovation in Salesforce-driven businesses.


Previous Article
Getting Started with Custom Machine Learning Models in Salesforce: Integrating with Heroku
Nick Huber

Nick Huber


Table Of Contents

Understanding Big Data Challenges
The Power of External Big Data Systems
Integration with Salesforce
Real-Life Use Case: Customer Segmentation

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