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Community Blog Accelerating the Salesforce Experience Cloud in China with Alibaba Cloud GA

Accelerating the Salesforce Experience Cloud in China with Alibaba Cloud GA

This article explains a solution from Alibaba Cloud that uses Global Accelerator and Content Delivery Network to address the performance issues of Experience Cloud users in Mainland China.

By Wang Zhong, Alibaba Cloud Solution Architect

Background

Nowadays, users in Mainland China often run into performance issues when accessing Experience Cloud sites hosted outside of China. Typical symptoms include slow page loading and timeouts, which have a significant impact on user experience and productivity. This article explains a solution from Alibaba Cloud, the No.1 CSP in China, leveraging Global Accelerator (GA) and Content Delivery Network (CDN) to address the performance issues and offer a smooth experience for Experience Cloud users in Mainland China.

ICP Requirements

This solution requires a dedicated custom domain name in Mainland China, typically under a .cn or .com.cn TLD. Note: The domain name needs to be registered via a Chinese registrar per local regulation and complete ICP filing to serve legally inside Mainland China.

Alibaba Cloud provides services to assist with the domain registration and ICP filing application; please visit this link for more details.

Solution Overview

There are three onboarding options for Salesforce Experience Cloud:

  • No CDN
  • Included CDN
  • Bring Your Own CDN

This article uses the “Bring Your Own CDN” option. This option allows you to serve the domain using a non-Salesforce host or service.

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This diagram represents how Salesforce routes traffic when using a non-Salesforce host or service to serve the custom domain, where:

  1. The custom domain that points to the Salesforce internal CNAME
  2. Salesforce’s internal CNAME that points to the non-Salesforce service provider or host
  3. Non-Salesforce host or service. Specify the third-party CDN service hostname or your external server hostname (external CNAME) in the external hostname field on the domain configuration page
  4. Salesforce content on Salesforce sites or Experience Cloud sites

For this solution (pictured above), the custom domain in ① should be a dedicated domain name for China (must have ICP), such as www.yourdomain.cn. ③ It includes two Alibaba Cloud services chained together: CDN and GA.

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Alibaba Cloud CDN caches the static content of the Experience Cloud content for www.yourdomain.cn, reducing the latency of retrieving static web pages and assets. GA helps accelerate requests for dynamic content not cached on CDN. Those requests are routed to the GA instance in China, riding on Alibaba Cloud’s global backbone network all the way to the US data center with dedicated bandwidth and consistent low latency. Eventually, the requests are forwarded to and served by the Salesforce server in the US. Then, the responses are routed back via GA and CDN to the users in China.

GA provides fully compliant cross-border connectivity. The bandwidth can be adjusted easily to suit your needs and is billed month-to-month without the need of a contract.

Let’s walk through the steps to configure this solution, including GA, CDN, and Salesforce Experience Cloud.

Prerequisites

Step 1 – Purchase Alibaba Cloud GA

1.  Log into your Alibaba Cloud account

2.  Go to the GA console and provide information for each input box:

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  • Acceleration Area: China (Shanghai)
  • Service Region: US (Virginia)
  • ICP Filing: Yes
  • Server Area: Off Alibaba Cloud
  • Peak Bandwidth Range: The minimum is 2Mbps. We recommend starting small, such as 5Mbps. This can be adjusted later.
  • Maximum Concurrent Connections: 5,000

3.  Click “Generate Service List” to get the recommended service bundle:

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4.  Click “Generate Service List” to go to the purchase page:

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After successful payment, three items will be created:

  • One GA instance
  • One enhanced bandwidth plan
  • One cross-border bandwidth plan

Step 2 – Configure Alibaba Cloud GA

2.1 Add Acceleration Area

Acceleration area is where the end users are located or close to geographically. Multiple acceleration areas can be configured to achieve optimal user experience across a wide geographic area like Mainland China.

1.  On the GA instance page, click the newly created instance and go to the Acceleration Areas tab

2.  Click Add Acceleration Area. In the dialog box, use the following parameters and click OK

  • Acceleration Area: China
  • Regions: China (Shanghai)
  • Bandwidth: 5Mnps
  • Internet Protocol: IPv4

After the acceleration area is added, GA assigns an accelerated IP address in the acceleration area:

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A CNAME will also be assigned and shown in the GA instance list. It will be used as the origin of the CDN service to be configured in Step 3:

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2.2 Add Listener

GA monitors connection requests received on the specified listener ports and forwards the requests to endpoints through the specified protocol.

1.  On the GA instance details page, click the Listeners tab

2.  Click Add Listener. In the Configure Listener & Protocol wizard, use the following parameters.

  • Listener Name: e.g. ExperienceCloud
  • Protocol: TCP
  • Port Number: 443
  • Client Affinity: Disabled

3.  Click Next to continue

2.3 Configure Endpoint Group

Each listener is associated with an endpoint group. Where one or more endpoint entries can be added, each entry is an origin server. In this example, the origin server is force.yourdomain.cn, which points to [your-id].force.com assigned by Salesforce (see 4.1-4).

1.  In the Configure Endpoint Group wizard, use the following parameters:

  • Region: US (Virginia) or US (Silicon Valley) depending on where your Salesforce instance is located
  • Backend Service: Off Alibaba Cloud
  • Endpoint:

    • Backend Service Type: Domain Name
    • Backend Service: force.yourdomain.cn

2.  Click Next to check the configurations

3.  After confirming the configurations, click Next to continue

The Alibaba Cloud GA service is now configured.

Step 3 – Configure Alibaba Cloud CDN

3.1 Activate the CDN service

Go to the Alibaba Cloud CDN console

The CDN service needs activation. Follow this helper doc to activate it when prompted

3.2 Add www.yourdomain.cn Domain Name to CDN

Follow this quick start guide to add www.yourdomain.cn to CDN

Use the parameters below:

  • Business Type: Select “Image and Small File”
  • Origin Info: Select “Site Domain” and enter the CNAME assigned to the GA instance in Step 2.1
  • Port: Select 443
  • Region: Select “Mainland China Only”

Verify the domain name by following the on-screen instructions. A CNAME will be assigned for www.yourdomain.cn (e.g. www.yourdomain.cn.s.kunlunsl.com). It will be used when configuring Experience Cloud in the next step.

3.3 Configure HTTPS

To serve Experience Cloud content over HTTPS, the SSL certificate of www.yourdomain.cn needs to be configured on CDN. Please follow the instructions in this helper doc

You can purchase an SSL certificate through Alibaba Cloud or upload your own certificate at the CDN Certificate Center. The CSR Generator is on the same page.

Step 4 – Configure Experience Cloud and DNS records

4.1 Configure Domain

1.  Go to your Salesforce console (Navigate to Setup → User Interface → Sites and Domains → Domains)

2.  Click Add a Domain Button

3.  Select Option 3 (Bring Your Own CDN)

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4.  Enter the following information:

  • Domain Name: Specify www.yourdomain.cn. Configure a CNAME record of www.yourdomain.cn at your DNS hosting service, pointing to www.yourdomain.cn.ID.live.siteforce.com as shown in circle A in the image above.
  • Select “A non-salesforce host or service serves the domain over https.” Use the CNAME assigned by Alibaba Cloud CDN in the previous section (please see circle B above), such as www.yourdomain.cn.s.kunlunsl.com
  • Check Enable Strict Transport Security headers
  • Circle C is the domain name that needs to be configured as the CNAME of force.yourdomain.cn.
  • Click Save

5.  Verify and Uncheck “Lock sessions to the IP address from which they originated”

  • Navigate to Setup
  • Type in “Session” in the search bar

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  • Click on Session Settings
  • Under the Session Settings section, uncheck (if checked) “Lock sessions to the IP address from which they originated”

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  • If the setting was unchecked, scroll down and click save

4.2 Configure Custom URL

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  1. Navigate to Setup → User Interface → Sites and Domains → Custom URLs
  2. Click New Custom URL record to link www.yourdomain.cn to your site (e.g. Customer Portal)
  3. If the Custom URL is on the root path ‘/‘, the Site Primary Custom URL checkbox should be checked so that emails, such as welcome and password reset, generate links using this domain.
  4. Click Save

4.3 Configure Preferred Domain in Experience Builder

  1. Navigate to Setup → All Sites
  2. Click on Builder for your site (Community)
  3. In Experience Builder, click on the bottom tab “Settings”
  4. Click General, in the Preferred Domain Section, select your preferred domain to your new custom domain (e.g. https://www.yourdomain.cn/s/)

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Congratulations! Now, your customers and partners in Mainland China can enjoy your Experience Cloud content at https://www.yourdomain.cn with improved performance and a smoother user experience!

References

  1. Alibaba Cloud Global Accelerator
  2. Alibaba Cloud CDN
  3. Salesforce: Custom Domain Onboarding Options
  4. Salesforce: Enable External HTTPS on a Domain
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