Blog

Once you start getting involved with Salesforce, you will hear a number of terms such as Instance, Org, Environment and even POD. Its easy to get these confused or even not to even be aware of what they really mean. One person may refer to the development instance and another the development environment. Some organisations may refer to the fact that they have multiple instances of Salesforce, and another multiple orgs. Here is a quick guide to the Salesforce terminology.

To understand the Salesforce terminology, you must first understand the multi-tenancy concept. Salesforce uses a multi-tenancy architecture, meaning that a number of customers share IT resources such as database servers, application servers and infrastructure required to run applications, resulting in an environment that can be standardised and optimised for all efficiently and a lower cost for each 'tenant' as the resources are managed centrally.

Salesforce Instance or POD

Salesforce groups together around 10,000 customers together into what it calls a Point of Deployment or POD. A POD is also known as an Instance and it is a self contained unit that contains all that is required to run Salesforce, including the application server, database server, database itself, search and file system. Each customer is allocated to one and only POD and that is where their data resides. As of July 2014, there are currently 21 Instances in North America, 2 in Asia Pacific, 4 in EMEA and 25 Sandbox Instances. A Sandbox instance is non production environment.

The complete list of Salesforce instances and the current status of each one is listed at Salesforce Trust.

Below is a list of some of the North American Instances. You can see that each instance can have a different status. All of the instances except for NA1 have an informational message. Informational messages can be used to inform customers of an upgrade to a new release is starting or has completed. On July 11 there was a performance issue with NA0, but this did not affect any of the other instances shown. 


To determine which instance you are using, check the URL after you login into Salesforce. In the example below, the customer is on the ap1 instance.

In the case of a Sandbox, the URL will be one of the cs instances such as cs6 in the case below.

In maybe that you don't see the instance in the URL if you are using a custom domain, in that case the URL will be something like: https://xxx.my.salesforce.com/home/home.jsp, where xxx is your company name. Salesforce offers a lookup service from the trust site, for you to enter your custom domain and it will return the instance it is using.

Salesforce Org

Now we understand what an Instance or POD is, what is a Salesforce Org or Organisation? An org is an identifier that represents a customers version of Salesforce and its data within an instance. Each org can be highly customised including custom fields, custom objects, workflows, data sharing rules, visualforce pages and apex coding. You can find your own org id in the Company Information page within Salesforce.

If you request to enable a feature such as person accounts, territory management or multi-currency, Salesforce will request your org id, so that it can enable the feature just for your org.

As all customers within an instance are sharing the same database, the org id is stored in every table to ensure that every row of data is linked back to the correct customer and the data from other customers sharing the same instance cannot be mixed up.

Salesforce Environments

So, finally what are Salesforce environments? An environment is a Salesforce org that is used for a specific purpose. Salesforce customers will have an org that is used as their production or 'live' environment. They will also usually have additional orgs used for development, testing, integration or training purposes, and these are referred to as development environments, testing environments etc. Non production orgs will be housed in one of the Sandbox instances.

Salesforce Data Centre, Instances, Orgs and Environments

The diagram below pulls everything together that has been explained so far. Salesforce has a number of data centres around the world. In each datacentre are a number of instances. Each instance will support around 10,000 customers each with their own Salesforce org. The org will be used as a production environment, unless it is housed on a Sandbox instance, in which case the org will be used for development, testing, integration testing, training or another non production purpose.

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for ten certifications

Salesforce Instances vs Orgs vs Environments

Once you start getting involved with Salesforce, you will hear a number of terms such as Instance, Org, Environment and even POD. Its easy to get these confused or even not to even be aware of what they really mean. One person may refer to the development instance and another the development environment. Some organisations may refer to the fact that they have multiple instances of Salesforce, and another multiple… Read More

Salesforce Instances vs Orgs vs Environments

Using the Salesforce Account Hierarchy

The Salesforce account hierarchy allow accounts to be related in a hierarchy by using a ‘parent account’ field to link them together. Once linked, the complete hierarchy structure can be viewed and links are provided to navigate directly to the accounts.The first step is to create or identify the ultimate ‘Parent’ account. This is the account at the top of the hierarchy. In our example, the top level account is… Read More

Using the Salesforce Account Hierarchy

Data Loader Tips – Inserting or Updating Blank Values in a Field

You may have come across the situation where you need to use Dataloader to clear or delete the value of a field. Normally, if you provide a blank value in the input file, DataLoader will ignore it and leave the field value as is. Lets look at an example. Here we have loaded data into the Product Description field instead of the Product Code field. Lets imagine, instead of 3… Read More

Data Loader Tips – Inserting or Updating Blank Values in a Field

Salesforce Multicurrency – What You Need to Know

      What is Salesforce multicurrency?Before we look at how multicurrency works and what you need to look out for, lets look at what it offers:Adds the ability to record amounts in different currencies. If you don’t have multicurrency enabled, then amounts are just displayed as an amount.Allows amounts to be converted, displayed and reported according to exchange ratesAllows the use of dated exchange rates so the value at… Read More

Salesforce Multicurrency – What You Need to Know

Preventing Duplicate Records with Salesforce Config

The Salesforce mantra is ‘clicks not code’ so we always look for a config solution to a problem before resorting to code. While we can set the unique indicator on a custom field to prevent duplicate values for one field across records, how do we prevent records inserted with duplicate values across all or some of the fields? Do we need to write a trigger to handle this? Or is… Read More

Preventing Duplicate Records with Salesforce Config

Salesforce Case Management

In most every company which prides itself on taking care of its customer base to the fullest, the Salesforce native functionality of Case Management goes hand in hand with customer success. The departments in an organization that deal with customer service, product support, issue resolution and service requests can all benefit from utilizing the case management functionalities; and related automation options; within Salesforce. As described in Salesforce Service Cloud Overview … Read More

Salesforce Case Management

Using DataLoader with Lookup Fields

External Ids provide a convenient way to integrate data from an external system, by allowing the use of a unique record identifer for records instead of the Salesforce Id. For example, you may define an Account Code external id on the Account object, which is the unique key for an account record in an ERP system that is integrated with Salesforce. When using DataLoader or another integration tool to update… Read More

Using DataLoader with Lookup Fields

Salesforce Mass Email

When you hear that Salesforce has a mass email capability you may think that you don’t need a marketing automation package to do that for you. Dig a little deeper and you will find that although Salesforce can send mass emails, there are a number of limitations that may have you looking back at AppExchange products. Firstly, lets look at what you can do with Salesforce mass email capability. You… Read More

Salesforce Mass Email

Quick Start Guide to using Conga Composer with Excel

Conga Composer is one of the most widely used 3rd party AppExchange apps for document generation with Salesforce. It can be used to merge Salesforce data to produce documents in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, HTML Email and PDF format. Here is a quick guide to generating an Excel spreadsheet with data from Salesforce. Create Your Excel Template Define the Fields and Reports it will use Add Merge Fields to the Excel… Read More

Quick Start Guide to using Conga Composer with Excel

How to Delete Multiple Records from a Salesforce Related List

You may be faced with the situation where you need to be able to delete multiple records from a related list in one click. Standard related lists do not have a feature to select all and delete all selected records. The standard way to delete from a related list is to use the del link and delete each record individually. This can be very time consuming and tiresome if there… Read More

How to Delete Multiple Records from a Salesforce Related List

Salesforce Cross Filter Report Examples

You may have come across cross filters when learning about Salesforce reports but having no immediate need for them, forget about them. It is only sometime later when faced with a reporting challenge that you may delve back and find that they are very useful and may even solve a problem that you thought you could not do with Salesforce reports. Lets review what reports with cross filters can do:… Read More

Salesforce Cross Filter Report Examples

Salesforce Email Templates

When you send an email from Salesforce, such as when you use the Send Email button or triggered from a workflow, you can select an email template. Email Templates in Salesforce come in four different types: Plain Text HTML using Letterhead HTML Custom Visualforce Plain Text Email Template This is the simplest email template to create. You can create it very quickly by entering the email text and including the… Read More

Salesforce Email Templates

Salesforce Lead Conversion

I was looking for a process flow diagram, that describes what happens when a lead is converted in Salesforce. I couldn’t find one, so I made my own. Once a lead is qualified, the next step is to convert the lead. In Salesforce, when you convert a lead, there are a number of options that are part of the process flow. The first step is to press the convert button…. Read More

Salesforce Lead Conversion

How to Display a Traffic Light Indicator in Salesforce

Visual indicators are a great addition to a Salesforce page to highlight important information or values. Instead of just displaying a value, showing an image will make a much larger impact. Depending on the situation, it may be more suitable to just display a single indicator such as a caution or stop image, or if a variable can have a range of values, display a variable image according to which… Read More

How to Display a Traffic Light Indicator in Salesforce