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Email-to-Case On Demand

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About a year ago I wrote an Email-to-Case ‘On-Demand’ solution for a client using Apex email services, which allowed us to take emails as an incoming feed and create/update cases (or any record if required) using Apex code. This solution was much more desirable than the standard email-to-case java ‘agent’ provided by salesforce, which is clunky and requires installation to a server within the clients network – going against everything a SaaS company is about.

As of Spring ’09 I’m very happy to see that salesforce now offer Email-to-Case On-Demand as part of their standard functionality, whilst continuing to offer the agent so there is a choice. I’ve tested the service in my development account and it works a treat! With minimum effort I was able to setup the same functionality that have previously taken several days, if not weeks to setup.

Whilst I understand there may be valid reasons for some customers to use the Email-to-Case agent (to recieve >10MB attachments for example) I’ve never liked it.

Problems with this approach:

#1 Software
The salesforce.com logo is ‘anti software’ and yet to use the email-to-case agent you need to install software.
#2 Polling
The agent polls the email server, so there is likely to be a delay between the email arriving at your server and actually being inserted into salesforce as a case (via the API), even if you reduce the interval setting… not the best when you have customers waiting for a response.
#3 Hardware
Installing software obviously requires hardware, so the client now needs to locate a server to install the agent to which will require administration.
#4 Unmanaged
Seeing as it’s your software running on your servers, it’s you that has to manage it – any downtime on means no cases created in salesforce.

So well done salesforce for releasing this new feature! For all of you out there using email-to-case I would urge you to at least take a look at the new On-Demand service, and I’m sure many customers will be moving onto it in the near future.