Article

SFMC Feature: Deployment Manager

Tony Zupancic

As many users of Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) know, over time your SFMC account can get quite messy and feel overwhelming. This can happen as part of a merger & acquisition, when multiple brands are merged into one SFMC account or a new Business Unit is set up in an existing account. 

Regardless of the reason, if you have to move assets between Business Units or complete a migration, you are in luck: There is an app for that. Within the Salesforce AppExchange, SalesforceLabs has released an app called Deployment Manager. Deployment Manager–in short–allows you to take a snapshot in SFMC, download the snapshot, and re-deploy it into a different Business Unit or SFMC account

What makes Deployment Manager so cool?

If you’ve ever tried to move anything from one Business Unit to another in SFMC, you know there was never a reliable tool to use (unless, of course, you built your own). The Deployment Manager app provides the ability to move items between Business Units without needing to reconfigure everything. This allows for many use cases, such as moving assets from a staging to production Business Unit.

Perhaps the biggest reason why it’s a readily welcomed addition to the SFMC tools: migration! With the app, users are able to spend more time strategizing on how to configure a new instance rather than focusing on how to get items into the new instance.

Can the Deployment Manager app move any SFMC asset?

At the moment, no. There are a few things that it cannot move. (Check out the details below.) However, since its release, it has received some pretty extensive updates and will hopefully continue to be updated!

How does it work?

Once you install Deployment Manager in your account and navigate to it, a list of components will show:
1. Attribute Groups
2. Automations
3. Data Extensions
4. Journeys

These four categories cover a large portion of the typical assets within SFMC. Now, it’s important to note that while Deployment Manager can help you migrate the shells and configuration of these assets, each asset comes with some limitations.

Within the app, you will see a list of assets that are associated with the selected category. You are able to select any number of assets to move in a single snapshot. In addition to selecting multiple assets, you can also select multiple types of assets.

Deployment Manager

Once you have selected your assets for your snapshot, you can download that snapshot. If you’re anything like me (a 10 on the TLI EmailGeek scale), you like to peek under the hood to see what that snapshot looks like!

Deployment Manager JSON

The snapshot Deployment Manager takes is a standard JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) object. It contains the configuration and (for some components) dependent assets needed to recreate the whole thing in another Business Unit/account.

The very last thing you need to do in order to load the snapshot is to navigate to the new account/Business Unit and click ‘Deploy Snapshot’. This will give you access to choose your snapshot and officially deploy it. Once deployed, you will see a status message letting you know that your snapshot was deployed and if there were any snags along the way!

So…what’s the catch?

If you’re thinking “This is too good to be true!”, you’re partially right

Deployment Manager (while very powerful and extremely useful) doesn’t exactly capture everything and deploy it in perfect working order. 

For example, take our journey above. When the snapshot is deployed, it creates the entirety of the Journey Builder Canvas. It does not automatically capture/deploy the attribute groups and data extensions used for decision splits, the entry source and entry data extension, and the emails for your send activities.

The Details…

Let’s dive into some specifics. We’re going to walk through each component to understand what gets carried along with each snapshot.

1)Attribute Groups

Attribute Groups are a data extension or set of data extensions that are linked to the main contacts record.

When a snapshot is created for attribute groups, the app picks up:
• Data Extensions
• Attribute Sets
• The Attribute Group itself

2)Automations

Automations are a huge part of what makes SFMC so powerful, so some extra attention was given to this component when it was integrated into the Deployment Manager app.

With Automation snapshots, the app picks up:
• SQL Queries
• SQL Query Data Extensions
• Script Activities
• Email Send Activity
• Data Extract Activities
• File Transfer Activities
• Data Verification Activities
• Filter Activities

We’ve noticed that import activities do not get pulled over. It seems to pick up most of everything else with automations, though.

3)Data Extensions

Data Extensions, which are a foundational component in SFMC, were the second item emphasized in the app. 

When Data Extension snapshots are created, the app picks up the data extension schema (fields/headers for the data extension) as well as the retention and sendable properties. 

4)Journeys

Journeys were the first element that Salesforce Labs added and are what really sparked interest toward the app. With Journeys, there’s quite a bit of data to capture––entry source/filters, various journey activities, decision split logic, etc. 

When a snapshot is created for a Journey, the app picks up:
• The canvas structure as a while
• Email Send Activities
• Decision Splits
• Engagement Splits
• Wait Activities

However, there are quite a few things that do not seem to get captured with this snapshot. The main aspects that are not captured are the Data Extensions and Attributes that go along with decision splits, the Data Extensions, and connections for Update Contact activities. In addition, any Email Activities will duplicate the shell but not the email itself.

This is not an exhaustive list of Journey Builder activities, but it’s a good preview of what is and isn’t picked up and will serve as a good starting point for investigating them.

Where does that leave us?

After all of that, where do we stand with the Deployment Manager app?

Well, as with anything technology, email, or SFMC-related, it all comes down to testing the waters and understanding the limitations of the tool. 

There are quite a few actions that the app performs well and can save a TON of time. The biggest thing to take away from it, however, is that chances are there will still be some items that need to be manually moved or configured after you deploy your snapshot. In the times that I’ve tested or used the app, there have typically been items I needed to handle myself that had errors upon deployment of the snapshot.

So with all of that in mind, is it worth taking a look at to help move things from one Business Unit to another or to help migrate things to a new instance? Absolutely! 

Need help taking this on? Read more on why an SFMC consultant is the right choice for your business or shoot us a note. We’ll be happy to advise. 

About the Author(s)

Tony Zupancic

Graphic Designer/Photographer turned 4x certified SFMC Developer and 2020 Marketing Champion. Very active within the email community, on the EmailGeeks slack group, and Twitter. Organizer and SME on SFMC Lookup(Answers) webinars and author of various SFMC related articles. https://twitter.com/TonyZupancic

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