Data Cloud

What’s the Deal With Salesforce Data Cloud’s Zero-Copy Architecture?

By Lucy Mazalon

According to Salesforce’s recent report, only 31% of marketers are fully satisfied with their ability to unify their customer data across sources. Data Cloud, handling data harmonization, ensures that there’s a ‘common view’ of an individual customer – in other words, connecting everything ‘under the covers’.

Salesforce is using the term “trapped data” to describe sources that are not accessible in a traditional CRM platform (unless ported over via integrations). Luckily, Salesforce has forged partnerships with key technology players in order to achieve ‘zero-copy architecture’.

We first heard about zero-copy at Dreamforce ‘22, where Data Cloud (then called Genie) was unveiled. Alongside this, Salesforce announced their partnership with Snowflake – a popular data lake among technology professionals – which allowed for a zero-copy architecture between the Salesforce platform.

Fast forward to 2024, and there’s a growing number of partnerships that allow zero-copy. The importance of this method is also becoming more apparent, with the rise of copilots as part of the ‘AI revolution’. In this guide, we’ll be explaining what zero-copy is and why it is important.

What Is Zero-Copy?

Organizations use a cocktail of databases in their technology stack. With all the innovations that are part of the AI revolution, the more data available, the better the outputs AI can generate.

Zero-copy means that data in sources external to the Salesforce platform can be referenced but not actually stored on the Salesforce platform. Compare this to traditional integrations, where record data is passed through an integration (via APIs), and the record is essentially duplicated to be stored on the destination platform.

Additional data makes for a more powerful copilot experience, wherever and whoever is interfacing with Einstein.

READ MORE: Salesforce Copilots Will Work Together Across Products

Zero Copy Partner Network

The expanding Zero Copy Partner Network is part of Salesforce’s philosophy to keep their platform ‘open’ so that it’s ‘friendly’ to your existing technology stack.

In the visual below are listed a mixture of partners, with data warehouses, consulting partners that will implement and optimize your zero-copy architecture, and data kits that are more ‘plug in and play’ in nature.

Zero-Copy Benefits

There are three stand-out benefits to zero-copy:

  • Storage: We’d be remiss not to acknowledge that data storage in Salesforce is expensive. By referencing records (i.e. not actually creating them), you can gain the same benefits without soaking up your storage allowances.
  • Speed: Referencing data is faster than actually syncing and storing it. For use cases that rely on ‘real-time’ or ‘near-time’ data, gaining a faster view of data (without a lag) avoids getting caught out by changing data.
  • Environmental: With more organizations looking for ways to be more sustainable in their practices, some of the more intangible or ‘invisible’ impacts can be easily missed. Each time a request is made (for example, creating record data via an integration), it requires some level of energy from the data center. Salesforce has multiple data centers around the world that handle this computation. Zero-copy is more environmentally friendly.


The zero-copy method is evidently becoming more and more important, and now that we’re aware of just how much trapped data is hiding in the shadows, it’s clear to see why.

It will be interesting to see how ‘open’ Salesforce’s Zero Copy Partner Network is going forward, but the hope is definitely that connection without excess data copying will be the priority.

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.


    Fred Tchang
    May 25, 2024 5:18 pm
    All true, zero copy is a great move forward. Customers should just be aware of the limitations (by design) that come with “zero copy.” At least at the moment, because you are initiating calls from Salesforce to that outside system, you can’t have changes to that external data immediately trigger an action in Salesforce. You’ll have to wait until your scheduled call to that system, which you can then use as a trigger for further actions.

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