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Who & what is MuleSoft?

A quick video overview of the Anypoint integration platform (source: MuleSoft).

MuleSoft provides the most widely used integration platform for connecting SaaS & enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise.

Back in 2018, MuleSoft was acquired by Salesforce primarily to accelerate customers digital transformations. MuleSoft's integration platform enables not only to unlock data across legacy systems, cloud apps and devices but also to make smarter and faster decisions, and offer highly connected experiences for end-users.

MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform is now a part of the Salesforce Integration Cloud. Conversely, MuleSoft has a pre-built connector into Salesforce for seamless integration.

What we cover & explain

We've put together some frequently asked questions about MuleSoft and its differentiation, Anypoint integration platform, APIs and vCores, subscription model and licensing. The goal of this Q&A page is to provide a jargon-free overview and explain MuleSoft concepts in plain English.

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Various MuleSoft's terms and concepts

What is an API

An API is a piece of code that creates an access point to an application or a system. It's an intermediary that accepts requests from the outside, securely passes them to the system and then communicates the response back. The system remains a black box. The advantage - no need to know how the system works and processes requests, moreover, the system can be replaced entirely but the request-response chain will continue working perfectly well as long as the API knows how to 'talk' to the new system.

 

How does MuleSoft work?

MuleSoft offers numerous pre-built APIs for all types of applications and systems. By placing an API in front of your old legacy systems, you immediately acquire a modern way to interact with this system without knowing how it operates. If all your on-premise or cloud systems have an intermediary API, called System APIs, that can understand the modern system's language, then they can communicate by exchanging data. All MuleSoft APIs are organised in the network and are assigned different roles. More complex Process APIs are responsible for processing the extracted data and performing some logic, while Experience APIs deal with formatting the data to be presented to different media devices like desktops, mobiles, apps etc. The Anypoint platform is unique in its ability not only to manage and orchestrate API-led integration but also to develop and execute APIs.

 

Mule ESB (Enterprise Service Bus)

Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is fundamentally an architecture. It is a set of rules and principles for integrating numerous applications over a bus-like infrastructure. The core concept of the ESB architecture is connecting different applications by putting a communication bus between them and then enable each application to talk to this bus. This approach decouples systems, allowing them to communicate without dependency on or knowledge of other participants.

Mule, the runtime engine of Anypoint Platform, is a flexible ESB solution that helps to increase agility by implementing a simple, well defined, "pluggable" system that scales well.

 

Orchestration and flows

Orchestration is required when there is a need to combine existing services to meet business requirements. It involves decoupling point-to-point integration in favour of chains of operations that can be reused or modified as systems or business needs change.

Flows enable new ways to orchestrate service mediation. For example, you can combine an arbitrary number of sources, routers, and components that work together to achieve implementation requirements. Flows enable you to orchestrate new forms of data movement based on flow-specific routers. Orchestration allows you to create and reuse flows and component chains, chain together multiple components in one flow, and integrate sources or connectors anywhere in a flow.

 

Difference between On-premise and CloudHub deployment?

Anypoint Platform is the same product whether a customer uses Cloudhub or installs on their private Cloud. Note though that the Anypoint Platform Private Cloud Edition (PCE) set up is typically 6 months behind in terms of product releases.

The two key parts of the product, Control and Runtime Plane, are in different locations depending on the chose deployment option. The Control Plane can only be customer-managed when opting for a PCE deployment model.

 

What is the difference between Mule ESB Enterprise Edition and Anypoint Platform?

Mule, a lightweight Java-based enterprise service bus (ESB), represents the Mule Runtime itself and so is just referring to 1 component of Anypoint Platform. The Anypoint Platform also includes the Design center, Management center and Anypoint Exchange.

 

What is MuleSoft zero downtime deployment?

CloudHub is responsible for keeping your application up-to-date, so API users experience zero downtime. During your application update, CloudHub keeps both the old version and the new version of your application running. Your domain points to the old version of your application until the new version is complete and fully started. This approach ensures no disruption to users as all requests are serviced from the old application while the new version is starting.

Because CloudHub is an integration platform as a service (iPaaS), MuleSoft manages the operating system and Mule runtime engine patching. CloudHub applies security patches as needed to ensure that your application is secure and, once per month, it updates Mule to maintain the stability of your application with zero downtime.

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What is MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform

 

MuleSoft titan-anypoint-platform

The MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform is a unified, single solution for iPaaS and a full life-cycle API management. The Anypoint Platform consists of the following major components:

  • Anypoint Security,
  • Anypoint Design center,
  • Anypoint Management center,
  • Anypoint Exchange,
  • Runtime engine & services,
  • API-led connectivity,
  • Application Network,
  • DataWeave.

What is Design Center in Anypoint platform?

The diagram explains how API Designer Relates to Other MuleSoft Products

This diagram illustrates the relationship between design tools
and other MuleSoft products (source: MuleSoft documentation).

Anypoint Design Center includes a web-based tool where MuleSoft developers design and create API specifications and fragments (API Designer). Once your API specification or fragment is ready to be shared with the rest of the organisation, you publish it to Anypoint Exchange for testing and approval. This development approach is called Spec-Driven. Before moving into the API implementation phase, it's crucial to get the 'sign-off' from the business and other teams involved. They will test the API returning mocked results, provide initial feedback and validate requirements. Anypoint Exchange is a virtual market to share, discover and reuse APIs, connectors, templates, etc.

The other part of the Design Center, Flow Designer, is used to build Mule Applications that connect systems into workflows.

The diagram explains how API Designer Relates to Other MuleSoft Products

This diagram illustrates the relationship between design tools
and other MuleSoft products (source: MuleSoft documentation).

How do I secure APIs and integration in MuleSoft?

Anypoint Security is responsible for defending your APIs and integrations. MuleSoft takes security very seriously. A layered approach to protection ensures tight access control on a lower level of individual APIs while enforcing global policies and defending from external attacks.

What is MuleSoft Anypoint studio?

After you created your API specification, published it to Anypoint Exchange and received the 'green light', you are ready to start the implementation. Anypoint Studio is a desktop integrated development environment (IDE) for building your APIs. To speed up the development process and minimise potential errors, the Studio offers numerous ready-to-use modules for common integration purposes.

 

Anypoint Management center

Management Center is the operational hub to manage, monitor, audit and analyse APIs' performance. It comprises 3 components:

  • Runtime Manager allows you to deploy and manage applications and monitor their performance.
  • API Manager plays a very important role, it enables security policies to be applied to control access and unlock data with API gateways.
  • Analytics provides visibility into API traffic and provides performance metrics.

What is Anypoint Exchange?

MuleSoft Anypoint Exchange is like a Sunday market for APIs. There is a large central market - MuleSoft Exchange, and local markets hosted by organisations for internal use only. This is the place where you submit your API specification or fragment, and it is the first place to check for any integration assets. You can find various templates, connections, fragments to reuse in your application to save time and effort.


Runtime engine & services

Mule runtime engine is the heart and soul of Anypoint Platform. this is where the APIs are run from and data is processed.


API-led connectivity & its advantages

API-connectivity is an architectural methodology driven by MuleSoft to connect data to applications through reusable APIs. This is a big shift away from notorious point-to-point integrations. Using an API-led connectivity approach you can create a flexible and scalable network of APIs. One of the top benefits of API-led connectivity is reusability; for new projects, you can reuse many of the existing assets and APIs to save time and effort.

MuleSoft recognises 3 types of APIs depending on the role they play: System, Process and Experience.

  • System APIs are responsible for 'talking' directly to back-end systems. Their main role is to hide the complexity of the underlying systems.
  • Process APIs merge and process data delivered by one or multiple System APIs for a specific business purpose. For example, to deliver a 360 customer view, the process retrieves information from various systems. The data has to be merged and processed before it is passed to Experience APIs.
  • Experience APIs are complex APIs that combine information from multiple APIs but their role is to deliver this information to a specific channel. By a channel, we mean a mobile app, your partner organisation for data-sharing, internal processes or even robots (RPA).

Application Network

A way of connecting applications, data and devices through APIs that expose some or all of their assets and data on the network. That network allows other consumers from other parts of the business to come in, discover and use those assets.


DataWeave

DataWeave is a MuleSoft expression language for accessing and transforming data that travels through a MuleSoft application.

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MuleSoft Platform deployment options

 

Main parts of Anypoint Platform.

Mulesoft deployment model

The Anypoint Platform can be deployed in a variety of different ways including both Cloud and On-Premise options. From a deployment point of view it’s important to understand that the platform is divided into two fundamental parts and this is shown in the diagram below:

  • Control Plane - Runs in AWS and is made up of Design Center, Management Center and Exchange. No customer data resides in the Control plane, just metadata specific to the APIs.

  • Runtime Plane - Can run on Cloudhub (AWS), Public & Private Cloud and customer data centre. This is where the runtimes are based - the engines operating the APIs. This offers a single tenancy and is where customer data is processed.

4 deployment options

Considering these 2 discreet parts (Control and Runtime planes) of the platform, we can now explore the deployment options:

  • CloudHub - the platform as a service (PaaS) component of the Anypoint Platform. It is a global, fully managed, secure, and highly available platform for APIs and integrations. CloudHub is the quickest and easiest way to get up and running. It’s also the most cost-effective option with MuleSoft covering the cost of the infrastructure as a part of the annual subscription.
    Both the Control & Runtime planes are fully managed by MuleSoft on AWS.
  • Runtime Fabric (RTF) - a container service that brings cloud benefits to your on-premise deployments — whether they are in data centers or on a private cloud. Mule runtimes can be deployed across any cloud, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and data centers.
    The Control Plane is customer-managed, the Runtime Plane is managed by MuleSoft on AWS.
  • Hybrid - Mule runtimes can be deployed across any cloud, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and data centers.
    The Control Plane is customer-managed, the Runtime Plane is managed by MuleSoft on AWS.
  • Private Cloud Edition (PCE) - This is the most secure type of deployment from a customer perspective providing them with control of all components of the platform on their own infrastructure.
    Both the Control & Runtime Planes can be customer-managed.

Anypoint Platform Development: Fundamentals for Mule4

Start learning Anypoint Platform, build APIs and integrations, prepare for the exam.

 

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MuleSoft licences and subscriptions

Technical support GOLD PLATINUM TITANIUM

Support hours

8 x 5 24 x 7 24 x 7

Response time      

24 hours P1 - 2 hours P1 - 45 mins
Number of support incidents 20 Unlimited Unlimited

MuleSoft's support models: Gold, Platinum, Titanium

When evaluating the procurement of a platform such as MuleSoft, it's essential to assess not only the expense of running it but measure the cost against the expected business value.

Establishing the capacity needed to run your APIs is a collaborative effort undertaken between yourself, MuleSoft and Infomentum.

 Read more about MuleSoft licensing and pricing model.

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What makes MuleSoft stand out from the crowd

In September 2020, Gartner named MuleSoft a Leader for the 6th time in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). Also, MuleSoft has been named a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Full Life Cycle API Management.

The MuleSoft Anypoint integration platform is a unified platform that offers a holistic approach to API design and development. MuleSoft supports almost 300 connectors to databases, SaaS platforms, storage resources, and network services.

 

Anypoint Platform benefits 

The MuleSoft Anypoint integration platform ensures:

  • Accelerated Delivery - Fast-to-start, fast-over-time. MuleSoft has various pre-built assets and connectors to enable the rapid start of integration projects. Infomentum also offers several additional accelerators to speed up API development. Once a solid set of foundations have been laid, the reuse of the existing APIs will reduce future projects' development.
  • Automated Security - the Anypoint Platform offers security and governance at different levels and stages of APIs lifecycle. The platform complies with standard security and logging requirements by automatically applying the same set of security and policies to all APIs. API owners can quickly design, build and deploy fully secure APIs in a consistent way.
  • Resilient Operations - the Anypoint Platform comes with built-in reliability, scalability, and visibility. Understanding the state of your infrastructure and systems is essential for ensuring the reliability and stability of your services. Anypoint Monitoring, Analytics and Visualizer components will help you to make smart operational decisions based on topology graphs and runtime performance metrics. These tools will reduce the time required for the identification and resolution of problems while ensuring resilient operations.
  • Future-proof foundations - the platform is flexible and built for change. The Anypoint platform ensures a future-proof foundation with a plug-and-play architecture. Its versatility enables you to adapt to changing requirements without the need to rebuild APIs or integrations. It means you can switch at a future time to an alternate deployment approach (e.g. Cloudhub to Runtime Fabric) or drop/replace integrations at the system API layer with minimal impact on the rest of your Application Network.

 

Driving Customer Success with CSM's and Partners

MuleSoft is passionate about its customers and does everything to ensure they get maximum benefits out of the platform. At the heart of the ongoing relationship with clients is the team of Customer Success Managers (CSM's). It closely works with customers to drive out plans around enablement, C4E set-up and roadmap. The team always aligns its work with the delivery partner engaged, so you get the best out of both.

MuleSoft's Center for Enablement (C4E) lays the foundations for success. One of the framework's goals is to set up a cross-functional team (IT & Business) to share knowledge and promote reusable assets, API's and best practices. This approach enables self-service and efficient delivery within the organisation and creates an environment for implementing new solutions considerably faster.

The ongoing relationship with MuleSoft CSM always focuses on an Outcomes-Based Delivery (OBD) approach. As a part of this delivery process, MuleSoft provides partners and customers with access to their Catalyst Framework. It contains a set of reusable assets, templates and playbooks to create a best-practice approach for implementation. Furthermore, the framework is a pool of accelerators to avoid reinventing the wheel regarding documentation and standards.

 

MuleSoft Partners

MuleSoft invests heavily into their Partner Network. Infomentum is one of the MuleSoft partners; we are a boutique implementation and training partner. Partners are required to demonstrate their capabilities via Certification badges (across various roles) as well as the success of their various implementations.

Although customers are recommended to take a degree of internal ownership over their MuleSoft-based projects, there is enormous value to be gained from working closely with an experienced partner. Experienced and knowledgeable partners ensure that customers de-risk their programmes and accelerate delivery by adopting various frameworks, assets and documented standards.

Can MuleSoft be used for ETL?

Various ETL tools have been popular since the 70s and are mainly associated with data warehousing. The principle is to collect data in multiple formats from different sources, process, clean, and re-structure it before finally store in one place. ETL stands for 'extract, transform, and load.' So, how can you use MuleSoft's platform to achieve a better ETL integration?

MuleSoft has a unique approach towards modern connectivity, which differentiates its solutions from standard ETL platforms. Although not explicitly designed as an ETL solution, MuleSoft's Anypoint Platform has all tools required to perform successful data extraction and processing. It also supports implementing a variety of connectivity patterns for ETL/ELT. Furthermore, as a unified solution, it enables the re-use of the same building blocks to implement ETL/ELT processes faster, consistently and, in turn, avoid error-prone processes.

How to ETL using Anypoint Design Center (source: MuleSoft)

You will need a batch processing component, transformers, filters and other MuleSoft's components. The batch processing module enables processing a large amount of data by breaking it into chunks and storing them in a queue. MuleSoft's powerful scripting language (DataWeave) is used for advanced data transformation and aggregation. Last but not least, the platform supports messaging, events and streaming that allow users to mix advanced integration patterns into ETL processing.

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