Cloudside Chat: Adam Rutland and Rip Gerber Discuss the Salesforce AppExchange, DevOps and What It’s Like Being a World-Famous Trailblazer
Welcome to the CMO Cloudside Chat Interview Series, Featuring Vlocity’s Most Recognizable Developer, Adam Rutland, Engineering Manager.
Rip Gerber: Adam, thanks for taking the time today for a cloudside chat. After our founder and CEO David Schmaier, you are likely the most recognizable employee here at Vlocity, following your cameo in Marc Benioff’s Dreamforce keynote last year.
Adam Rutland: Thank you. Proud to be a Trailblazer!
Rip: Over 10 million people were online for Dreamforce’17, with over 171,000 registered attendees. You’re famous!
Adam: I think they were there more for Michelle Obama, Marc Benioff and Ashton Kutcher...
Vlocity employee Adam Rutland featured on-screen during the Dreamforce 2017 keynote with Marc Benioff.
Rip: First, could you tell us a little about what you do at Vlocity?
Adam: Sure. I build industry cloud software. As part of the Product Engineering team, the software and tools I build every day are going into the hands of the implementation teams, and they are using them to build increasingly complex solutions. These users provide interesting feedback and new requirements, and that keeps driving the product forward.
Rip: Adam you are one of the early employees at Vlocity. You’ve seen the ecosystem grow from the very beginning. What is it about Vlocity ecosystem that fires you up?
Adam: One of my favorite parts of working at Vlocity is that we are creating an industry-specific ecosystem within the Salesforce CRM community. It is great to see a project being architected and to talk through the combined Salesforce with Vlocity solution. Working so closely with Salesforce is the best part, we provide value by extending the Salesforce platform deep into our target industries. Providing deep industry-specific functionality and solving complex customer problems has been challenging and fun. Also, it’s a partner and team approach.
Rip: How has building Vlocity Industry Cloud apps changed over the past few years?
Adam: It has been great to watch the product grow. And the number of projects grow, too. I am seeing more and more Vlocity experts popping up all over the world. I like to think that by making the product better and better it will help grow this ecosystem, as when the product actually makes work easier for people there is no reason not to learn it.
Rip: Adam, what’s it like working at a fast-growing cloud company?
Adam: One of the key challenges for me is staying ahead of the curve, especially in providing a comprehensive Vlocity Developer Operations solution to the implementation teams. I have worked with all the different product teams and implementation projects to provide DevOps tools to migrate our Metadata between Salesforce Orgs. We support projects of all different sizes, and as the complexity and size grow, the more the implementations mirror traditional software development projects. This, in turn, leads to more sophisticated tools to make the deployment process as easy as possible on a day-to-day basis.
Rip: So, from a DevOps perspective, not only are you moving faster with more deployments, the complexity and strategic importance of these digital and cloud transformations is increasing, too.
Adam: That’s right. For people developing in other environments, DevOps tools are gaining more and more prominence as people find novel solutions to very complex problems like Docker has done. Salesforce is pushing this type of tooling with DX. For example, I have been building a command line tool to export and deploy the Vlocity Metadata with a focus on version control and build automation. This is challenging as every project is different and it needs to support a robust deployment process for different types of users and workflows. So I am working hard to make this possible.
Rip: You also work with partners in the Salesforce ecosystem, too?
Adam: Other Salesforce partners on the AppExchange are key, companies like Copado who fit the Vlocity solution into their DevOps and Project Management tools. The Copado team especially provided great feedback, requirements and expertise on Salesforce Developer Workflow, and I have created API's to allow them to seamlessly fit our tool into their solution.
Vlocity employee Adam Rutland presenting at Salesforce TrailheaDX 2018 in San Francisco.
Rip: The AppExchange is a powerful platform, and one of the most innovative strategies from Salesforce.
Adam: It is a great platform, and Salesforce is making more investments in it. Salesforce has begun pushing forward solutions with Salesforce DX and recognizing the developer community with conferences like Trailhead DX. By providing tools that allow a systematic approach to automation and build management, it improves the overall quality of the projects. I hope to contribute to this directly with my work at Vlocity to make it easier to solve hard problems through our product.
Rip: Beyond the Salesforce partnership, what makes Vlocity a great place for you?
Adam: Because we provide a comprehensive CRM solution, working at Vlocity allows me to think through many different parts of the problems I work on. We have many developers focused on providing a great UI and UX to end users, and that means I need to architect solutions that can pull double-duty.
Rip: What does that mean, double-duty solutions?
Adam: Solutions that can work completely on their own, but also work with other systems. I’ve learned to recognize that a major part of a successful CRM experience is integrating with outside systems. This is always a fun learning experience as new patterns and solutions are developed to work with new formats and use cases.
Rip: For example?
Adam: When designing an API to serve something like Product Recommendations, it is important to understand all the steps the customer will have taken before getting to the actual recommendation. Also, how the product will be presented in the UI, and what information will drive the success of the recommendation from both a business and customer standpoint. Then the challenge isn't providing a “one-size-fits-all” solution to everyone, but to recognize all the different parts of the problem that might be tweaked by the business to make it fit their needs.
Rip: Adam, thank you for that insight from a developer perspective, and congrats on all your success at Vlocity.
Adam: My pleasure, Rip.
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