May 14, 2012
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the past few months talking with businesses trying to wrangle the integration of different applications. Despite lots of APIs, the cloud, mobile devices, the democratization of IT and many other current themes, application integration is still hard, painful and requires a far higher level of technical nous that would be ideal. So it was interesting to hear from MuleSoft who is today launching a SaaS edition of their integration service. Perhaps to take advantage of the current excitement around PaaS, MuleSoft are calling what they do iPaaS or Integration Platform as a Service – I’m not sure we’re really in need of another acronym but anyhow….
MuleSoft provides a number of integration products that tie together both SaaS and on-premise applications. MuleSoft is delivered as a packaged integration experience and they boast of production usage by Walmart, MasterCard, Nokia, Nestlé and Honeywell, and integrations with SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Workday, Intuit and Zuora. Their on-premise product has 3200 customers and possibly more interestingly they have over 100000 developers as part of their integration community – trying to help join the dots between on-premise and the cloud.
In terms of what this new SaaS edition of the product actually does, features include;
- Graphical data mapping and transformation capabilities – enables SaaS vendors and SIs to build and deploy integration apps without writing custom code by using the Mule Studio drag-and-drop interface
- Connector DevKit – makes it easy to create new cloud connectors in Mule Studio for any public or private Web API
- SaaS Operations Center – provides complete visibility into end user environments with a multi-tenant portal to monitor, manage and maintain integration apps, including:
- Operational dashboards: deliver better customer support with live integration status and performance metrics
- Real-time notifications: meet availability requirements and improve service level agreements (SLAs) with immediate notifications for events or performance issues as they occur
- Proactive alerts: reduce support calls by proactively monitoring and addressing issues before they impact customers
All of which makes sense but the real test is in enabling these integrations to occur as painlessly as possible, this is where I was interested to look at the packaged applications and connectors that MuleSoft is launching along with this release. It’s focus is to enable a variety of integration needs including;
- Data integration and data loading – move batch data and flat files between systems, ensuring correct data formats and field mappings
- API enablement – create and host open REST APIs as composites of legacy APIs (e.g., SOAP) and other data sources
- Process orchestration – integrate and automate business processes that span multiple applications, in the cloud or on-premise
- Composite and mobile applications – create new end-user applications from multiple underlying applications and data sources
Integration apps are prepackaged integrations that MuleSoft provides to automate multi-step processes and data transfers across systems. Integration apps are a way to provide repeatable integration between third party systems. The idea is that by simply switching out the third party application or endpoint and performing some minor configuration and data mapping, SaaS providers using MuleSoft are able to provide prepackaged integration to their customers as part of their product feature set or a simple add-on component. It’s a chance for a vendor to create broad connections to other applications in one fell swoop.
The integration space is reasonably busy with CastIron, Boomi, NextAxiom and SnapLogic all trying to “crack the code” on the integration problem – integration is one of my “big areas” of opportunity and I’m interested to who the winners will be in the space.