What Salesforce Education Cloud Means for Higher Education

Mary Beth Cahill |

Former Analyst

Top of Mind: What Salesforce Education Cloud Means for Higher Education
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Salesforce has launched its new Education Cloud industry platform, providing higher education with an integrated student-centric enterprise-wide CRM solution suite. The company is aligning its Education Cloud product strategy with the same approach that has brought it success across 11 other industries by leveraging the core Salesforce CRM platform and horizontal applications combined with innovations from other industries.

For example, the company is repurposing patient timeline functionality developed in healthcare and life sciences to create a student timeline. It is also applying program and case management functionality to higher education, providing the ability to support variations of structured programs. This strategy allows Salesforce to repurpose innovations and accelerate the creation of industry-specific applications that are scalable across the enterprise.

Thus, Salesforce is transforming its product portfolio from a set of function-specific products to a comprehensive Education Cloud that spans the student lifecycle, which is a packaged product stack with streamlined licensing.

Introducing Salesforce Education Data Foundation

Salesforce Education Cloud features a newly built Education Data Foundation that is embedded into the core Salesforce CRM platform. While the Education Data Foundation has similar functionality to Salesforce’s Education Data Architecture (EDA), it has a modernized architecture and is embedded into Salesforce instead of layering on top of it. It has also been enhanced to provide a more learner-centric approach that supports diverse learning programs and delivers a variety of degree and nondegree programs. Looking at this from a market perspective, we have to wonder what these changes will mean for the future of third-party Salesforce applications.

Migration Paths from Education Data Architecture to Education Cloud

Salesforce is offering institutions several migration paths from EDA to Education Cloud. The core set of Salesforce capabilities, many of which institutions are using today—including Admissions Connect, Student Success Hub, and Marketing Cloud—can still be used without a full data migration. Existing products are currently still supported with new releases and bug fixes, and, according to Salesforce, there are no current plans for end of life or requirements to move to the new platform.

Salesforce is offering current Admissions Connect and Student Success Hub clients all of Education Cloud’s capabilities. While institutions can start taking advantage of new features such as student timelines, enterprise-wide scheduling, forms building, and Omni Studio without a data migration, as Salesforce Education Cloud evolves, clients will at some point most likely need to migrate their data to leverage the full benefits of the platform. Salesforce is currently working on creating tools and accelerators to help clients migrate to Education Data Foundation.

Education Cloud also includes a common capability model layer that supports holistic, enterprise-wide capabilities for various functions such as appointment scheduling, case management, student timeline, program management, and more, and, of course, Salesforce will continue to leverage and integrate with its Marketing Cloud, CRM Analytics, Slack, Tableau, and others.

Salesforce has also launched its Data Cloud, designed to facilitate integration between its platform applications via out-of-the-box connectors to the Salesforce Clouds, Google Cloud Storage, streaming data from web and mobile, and APIs integrated via MuleSoft. Data Cloud will allow Salesforce to bring more data, such as student system and LMS data, into the engagement process to drive personalized engagement at scale.

The Education Data Foundation and Recruiting & Admissions operating applications were released for availability in spring 2023. Student Success is scheduled for release in summer 2023. While Salesforce continues to work with its advancement ISV partners Affinaquest and UCI ascend, there are also plans on the future roadmap to provide applications for alumni and advancement.


Salesforce seeks to make the trial and buying experience easier for higher education institutions by offering Education Cloud with a single SKU for CRM, Sales, and Service Clouds and all education-specific content. However, the current plan is to offer products such as Marketing Cloud as separate SKUs. While institutions can choose to use one or multiple Salesforce orgs, the company’s vision is to manage Education Cloud in a single org to streamline management and provide a consistent user experience.

There are still many unknowns, such as how institutions using Admissions Connect and Student Success Hub will migrate customizations to the new platform and what, exactly, a data migration will entail. There is also some uncertainty about how Salesforce’s new direction will impact its existing third-party solution partners. However, the creation of a student-centric Salesforce CRM platform will provide a more cohesive and streamlined environment for institutions.

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Mary Beth Cahill |
Former Analyst
As a former senior analyst for Tambellini Group, Mary Beth Cahill focused her research on CRM and advancement initiatives. She has led numerous research efforts, specifically in vendor administrative systems and student information systems (SIS) software solutions, data and learning analytics, CRM, learning management, and social networking. Mary Beth was also the co-author of several published industry reports, including Tambellini Group's "Upgrade or Replace" and "Vendor Review" series of reports.

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