MuleSource pulls big integration load

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-03-31 Print this article Print


Mason said he decided to create MuleSource after years of working in financial services institutions with large IT needs. In one instance, "We were integrating six or seven back-end systems and there was a recurring pattern where up to 90 percent of the code we were doing was applicable to the next integration." That gave Mason the idea to write MuleSource to handle that big part of the integration load. "A mule is a beast of burden and Mule can carry your payload," Mason said.

MuleSource is a Java-based solution. However, Mason said he initially tried to create the product using Web services, "but the performance was not up to par," so he moved to Java, he said.

Mason said MuleSource prototyped an online version of Mule "for simple interaction between 'clouds.'" He added, "So we did a prototype of Mule in the cloud," but the company has not created an on-demand version of the Mule technology for widespread use.

Chris Haddad, an analyst with Burton Group, summarized his view of Mule by saying, "If you want a lightweight, integration-centric ESB, you appreciate open source, and you have reasonably sophisticated developers, you'll probably like Mule."

"If you're looking for a solution with a lot more bells and whistles and integration with third-party SOA infrastructure components, you should look elsewhere," Haddad said. "Keep a close watch on MuleSource products; they hired a top-gun team, are rapidly closing the feature-function gap, and are a good strategic bet based on current feature breadth, mind share and future innovations."

Moreover, Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink, said he believes that of all the open-source ESB offerings, MuleSource is rapidly rising to the top as one of the most popular. Yet, "Be that as it may, there are still two huge challenges the ESB market faces: Too many organizations wrongly believe that buying an ESB can give them SOA, and there's no single definition of ESB in the marketplace," Bloomberg said.

In MuleSource's case, Bloomberg said, its definition of an ESB is a lightweight messaging framework that contains a distributable object broker for managing communication between applications.

"The objects they are brokering are Java objects, making Mule a Java-only ESB, which is suitable for some organizations, but too limiting for others," Bloomberg said. "It could also be argued that an object broker is not the best approach to an ESB. But regardless of Mule's capabilities, organizations must let their architecture drive their technology selection in order to succeed with their SOA initiatives, not the other way around."

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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