MuleSoft connects applications and their data – across both cloud and on-premise cloud – through an integration platform. This is known as an Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS), integrating cloud applications with each other, as well as with on-premise and legacy applications.
MuleSoft is ideal for organizations who are looking to transition to the cloud, and who need a robust way to manage all the disparate sources of data – in other words, MuleSoft provides these organizations with a powerful solution for integration. The task at hand will only get more challenging as organizations become increasingly reliant on both the cloud, and its connectivity to their on-premise offerings.
MuleSoft was acquired by Salesforce in 2018, for a $6.5 billion price tag. At the time, it was Salesforce’s largest acquisition, and a landmark in the world of enterprise SaaS. The post-acquisition product was called ‘Integration Cloud’, which was later dropped in favor of the tried and true MuleSoft name. So why did Salesforce spend billions to acquire this integration platform?
Why Do You Need MuleSoft?
Here are just a few reasons why MuleSoft can be a great tool for your business:
1. Reduce Costs
Historically, huge costs have been associated with integrations due to their complexity and resource required.
Often, custom integrations have been developed that are not reusable and are therefore inefficient. They also present ongoing costs as you require a developer each time you need to maintain them.
MuleSoft enables you to leverage reusable integrations with Universal API Management (including pre-built integration templates), and even MuleSoft Composer, a tool that enables admins to create integrations using clicks not code.
2. Increase Customer Engagement
Integrated end-user experiences can significantly increase customer engagement, as reported by 53% of respondents in the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report – and engagement is necessary to increase sales.
MuleSoft’s easy-to-use integration options make it a great tool to use for this.
3. Increase Internal Productivity
Connected internal experiences boast many benefits and 59% of respondents in the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report reported an increase in productivity.
Anyone familiar with Salesforce understands that empowering admins or “no-code” developers is key to accelerating agility and productivity. Tools such as MuleSoft Composer remove the need to wait for development resources to become available, enabling admins to build integrations and logic using declarative features.
4. Complete Data Visibility
Removing data silos and bringing your data together can enable you to really pinpoint with precision issues and areas for improvement. With tight budgets, businesses will need to carefully analyze where to invest and where to make cut backs.
5. Increase Revenue
28% of respondents in the 2021 Connectivity Benchmark Report reported additional revenue growth was generated from APIs (e.g. organizations are seeing an increase in revenue by providing integrated, digital experiences).
How MuleSoft + Salesforce Work Together
Masses of raw data are being captured on a daily basis to establish baselines, benchmarks, and goals for organizations. However, most of this data has no value unless properly analyzed.
Salesforce and MuleSoft address data silo issues through transforming data, as well as delivering a seamless customer experience.
The bottom line is that Salesforce is able to view data in real-time and produces real results. In addition to native Salesforce reporting, these are other popular tools for data visualization in Salesforce: Einstein Analytics, Tableau, Datorama.
MuleSoft Flow Designer
Flow Designer is a simple alternative to creating full-blown APIs from scratch within Anypoint Studio. Used to design and develop fully-functional MuleSoft applications in a hosted development environment, it’s an obvious choice to consider when planning projects. Capabilities include:
- Design Center: Displays what you build graphically with easy-to-follow indicators displaying order, the hierarchy of elements, and triggers.
- Triggers and Connectors: Select from a library on the MuleSoft Anypoint Exchange to reduce the work required to duplicate processes you have already made, or processes others have already made.
- Mapping and Transforming Data: Flow Designer has a built-in automatic data mapping feature.
- Error Handling and Debugging: With a dedicated “Problems” button that displays any errors in layman’s terms.
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform
The Anypoint Platform is MuleSoft’s main product offering. In recent years, MuleSoft has recognized that low-code individuals can leverage composable building blocks so that developers don’t have to shoulder all integration work.
Anypoint Code Builder
An integrated development environment (IDE) to create APIs and integrations. At the time it was announced, Shaun Clowes, MuleSoft’s CPO, shared the vision for Anypoint Code Builder to become the #1 IDE for APIs and integrations.
The desktop version of this tool is now available to all customers, whilst the cloud version is currently in beta and will be generally available in the second quarter of 2024.
Developers are spending too long switching between the tools at their disposal; instead, they want a single developer environment where integration design, development, and deployment can happen.
Built from the ground up, Anypoint Code Builder focuses on productivity, ease of use, and developer experience that uses modern, open-source VS Code that is familiar to almost all Salesforce Developers.
Built-in recommendations will help developers get started faster at design time, and follow development best practices with access to a library of building blocks for common API and integration patterns.
Einstein for Anypoint Code Builder
Use natural language prompts to generate code and integration flows – a visual representation of the code and business logic to connect the systems.
As you can see below, Salesforce has added the ability for you to “Start with AI” instead of building an integration flow from scratch. The integration example Salesforce includes in the screenshot gives you an idea of what this can accomplish…
“Create a flow that syncs the phone field of account objects between a Salesforce org and a database”
Anypoint Code Builder for Industries
In line with Salesforce’s mission to speed up development for specific verticals with their Industry Cloud, they have also created packaged solutions for healthcare, financial services, and retail. These look to provide template solutions which quickly accommodate common integration use cases for these industries, such as integrating eCommerce platforms with inventory management systems for retail.
Universal API Management
Building APIs effectively is one part of the challenge – sharing APIs is the other part. Sharing APIs is key to empowering more individuals across the business to integrate themselves and alleviate pressures from development teams.
Even if an organization does have an API inventory (which is rare), maintaining security across those APIs is difficult, especially when the APIs are across different gateways, consoles, and platforms. This is where Universal API Management, MuleSoft’s pioneering new approach, comes into play.
- Anypoint Flex Gateway: An ultra-fast, lightweight gateway that provides enterprise security and manageability across any API, environment, or architecture.
- Anypoint API Governance: Ensures that all APIs your organization builds and deploys comply with security regulations, industry standards, and internal design standards. Organizations can do this without any additional overhead in their development processes. This paves the way for sharing APIs to be used across the organization with peace of mind.
Features of MuleSoft (Mule 4)
Mule 4 encompasses all of the benefits that companies and developers love, and taking its predecessor (Mule 3) to a whole new level by:
- Upgrading to the core runtime engine. This powers the Anypoint Platform, which speeds up new app development because developers don’t need to learn additional concepts.
- Simplifying the language used for connectivity, including a newer error handling framework.
- Manage larger streams and payloads (larger than what your memory allows).
- Generate connectors from RAML specs automatically with REST connect.
- Create better quality custom connectors and components with the Mule SDK.
DataWeave is the default expression language that replaces the Mule Expression Language (MEL) used in the previous version. While DataWeave is not new per se, it has received a major facelift.
With MEL, there are many different evaluators that handle various inputs such as JSON and Groovy. Even though MEL handled these expressions fairly well, it couldn’t really handle transformations. Thus, developers had to use tools such as Transformers and DataMapper for manipulation purposes, but as the integration landscape continued to progress, they became more advanced.
Ever since it was introduced back in 2015, DataWeave became a big hit among developers. Not only does it support runtime integration, but the language itself has been improved as well. It’s also popular because it focuses on the structure of the data instead of the format, which means that you no longer have to use different Java arrays to handle expressions from JSON and DataWeave. Instead, you can now query and evaluate any expression without having to transform it into a Java object, and you will also be able to access binary data anywhere with repeatable access.
2. Error Handling
Previously, error handling was Java exception handling and there was no way of communicating the type of error each component produced. Even though you will still have access to Java Throwables, Mule 4 still uses the Mule runtime engine to handle errors. If you encounter any component problems, Mule will tell you what the error is and some information on why the issue occurred. You can then route this error to a handler.
You will also be able to identify all of the potential errors during the design phase as each component declares the type of errors that it can produce.
There are now new triggers in the Anypoint connectors that allow you to run queries in target systems. The connector will include logic that is already built-in that will keep an eye out for any changes on data; this can be something like creating a new field in a database, creating a new file and other changes.
The File and FTP connectors have also been improved and now allows you to create files, appendices, and much more.
4. Mule SDK
In the new version of MuleSoft, there is an upgrade on the old Anypoint Connector DevKit. It allows developers to further expand the boundaries Mule is capable of and create new connectors, while also enhancing the collaboration process.
There is now a simple, automation-based programming model that also allows for forward compatibility. With the old SDK, you had to write code for the Connector, thus bridging the code and the Mule runtime internally. Now, the SDK uses APIs, which means that there is no need to write anything in between the Connector and the runtime.
MuleSoft Composer is the first integration tool embedded within the Salesforce platform, offering a declarative interface to create integrations.
Think of an interface similar to Flow, but with the ability to directly integrate with other systems using pre-built connectors. This takes the heavy lifting out of building integrations and allows businesses to innovate faster.
Batch Processing in Mule
MuleSoft offers hundreds of connectors that can be used to create APIs and batch processes. These processes can read information from multiple sources, transform that information, and use it to update different target systems.
In this tutorial, we can learn how to create a Mule batch process. Mule will listen for new won opportunities in Salesforce, and as a result, creates a Trello card with the opportunity/ies name.
MuleSoft’s “For Each” Connectors
MuleSoft provides many connectors to help businesses develop API-led connectivity solutions. Of all the connectors, the “For Each” loop is commonly used. This connector iterates through each element of a collection – in other words, each element of an array.
There are two different For Each connectors provided by MuleSoft: the “For Each” and the “Parallel For Each.” These have different functionalities and serve different purposes. Understanding when to use each one is crucial for the success of the APIs you are building.
Similar to the AppExchange, there is an Anypoint Exchange for MuleSoft. Here you can find connectors, accelerators, integration patterns, etc. that you can use in your projects instead of starting from scratch yourself.
“Together, Salesforce and MuleSoft will enable customers to connect all of the information throughout their enterprise across all public and private clouds and data sources—radically enhancing innovation. I am thrilled to welcome MuleSoft to the Salesforce Ohana.”– Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce
MuleSoft is an integration platform that connects applications, data, and devices, facilitating seamless communication and data exchange across various systems. It can integrate with Salesforce to enable data synchronization and workflow automation between Salesforce and other applications, enhancing connectivity and efficiency. Win-win!
Hopefully this post has told you all you need to know about the handy tool.