MuleSource, maker of open-source infrastructure and integration software, announced that its Mule project has reached 500,000 downloads and is poised to continue to gain users and market share in the face of competing offerings from proprietary competitors.
In an interview with eWEEK, MuleSource CEO Dave Rosenberg and Mule creator and company co-founder Ross Mason spoke about the history of the Mule platform and shared some insights about the roadmap for the product, including support for virtualization, a new IDE (integrated development environment) and partnerships with OEM partners and others.
Mason released the Mule open-source ESB (Enterprise Service Bus in 2003 and it has become a widely used integration platform among enterprise developers, with more than 120 large enterprises ranking among the San Francisco companys customers.
However, the impetus for the Mule project came in 2001 when Ross was working on an integration project for an investment bank and used an ESB model.
“When you go about integrating systems into larger applications there are things you do over and over again,” Mason said. Mule helps to automate many of those tasks. “Mule is a lightweight tool that integrates with your existing architecture. Its known as an ESB, but its a very simple concept of endpoints and service components.”
Mason said in a statement that “as a developer, you face an infinite number of integration scenarios, so rigid tools that mandate specific architecture and standards choices have very limited value.”
He said that Mule was designed to be the developers first multi-purpose platform for integration, and because it is modular, and because it supports a comprehensive list of technologies and standards in enterprise production environments, Mason said that Mule is the one integration platform that truly adapts to the developers environment.
“Its a great alternative to the rigid integration frameworks that impose architecture choices and approaches on the developer,” he said.
Rosenberg said that the company had a lot of users interested and went out and raised funding through venture capitalists. In November of 2006, venture capital firms Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Morgenthaler Ventures funded MuleSource to serve as the official support and services organization for the Mule user base.
Then MuleSource rolled out new subscription options for Mule users, and introduced MuleHQ, a monitoring and management system for Mule environments.
MuleSource competes with companies such as Oracle, IBM, TIBCO and BEA Systems, Rosenberg said. The companys biggest markets are financial services and telecommunications companies.
“We compete on features and functionality,” Rosenberg said. “Open source used to be about whats good enough, but were not only good enough, were better … The big vendors overshoot your needs, and Mule allows you to do things incrementally.”
In a post, Travis Carlson, a Mule core designer based in Buenos Aires, said that before he discovered quality open-source software like Mule, vendor support was a “sore subject” for him.
“Once I discovered the alternative: enterprise-class open-source software, which for application integration means Mule, the whole story changed,” Carlson wrote in his post. “With Mule, you have all the source code, and not just a periodic export of it, but the actual, bleeding-edge development tree.”
Keeping Up with Virtualization
Meanwhile, according to analyst firm IDC, by 2013 72 percent of all servers will be virtual. In 2007, MuleSource will release a virtual Mule appliance with partner CohesiveFT. Mason said Mules virtual appliance will make it possible to run Mule inside of a virtual container in VMware Player environments.
Additionally, MuleSource plans to release, in the second quarter of this year, a new version of the MuleHQ monitoring and management system for Mule to support VM instances of Mule, the company said.
Moreover, Mason said he designed Mule to support high-performance, multi-protocol transactions between services across an enterprise network, so Mule is used in production environments as the messaging backbone for SOA (service-oriented architecture). Mule supports leading BPEL (business process execution language), rules engines and process management engines—and in 2007 the company will announce technology partnerships with complementary SOA technology vendors, Mason said.
“In 2007, we are engineering a number of other exciting new capabilities into the Mule platform,” Rosenberg said in a statement. “While the platform supports the vast majority of technologies in todays enterprises, we are bringing in new capabilities to help users bridge the integration needs of new architectures and software development models they are evolving towards,” he said.
“Well have the new management tool coming, and in the next month or so well deliver a full Eclipse-based IDE,” Rosenberg said.
Meanwhile, Rosenberg said MuleSource is working more closely with London-based Interface21 to enable tighter integration between Mule and the Spring Framework, the lightweight open-source Java application development platform that Interface21 maintains and supports.
Rosenberg also said that the company has a Mule for Salesforce.com coming in beta next week. “The idea is to extend Salesforce in and out of the enterprise.”
And Rosenberg said MuleSource is getting similar interest from other companies to provide implementations of Mule for their platforms.
In addition, MuleSource is expanding its support for OSGi (Open Source Gateway initiative) technology, Mason said.
“Were very complimentary with Spring and we align our feature sets to see where the synergies are,” Mason said. “For Mule 2.0 well be based on top of Spring. The introduction of OSGi is something the Spring guys are hot about for things like hot deployment of services and versions of services.”
Mason said Mule can act as a runtime and concurrency environment for Spring applications. Or Mule also can serve as a lightweight application server for Spring, he said.
Neelan Choksi, vice president, Americas, for Interface21, based in Austin, Texas, said Interface21 has witnessed some common patterns emerging in enterprise Java development that are enabling companies to drive innovation in different directions on top of these common patterns.
“Spring plus Mule is a pretty common usage scenario, and MuleSource had a team that was savvy enough to spot this at a relatively early point,” Choksi said.
“Hence, MuleSource has done a great job of building Mule to take advantage of the Spring programming model and configuration mechanisms not just for its customers but also in the development of its product. I think that the close ties between the products as well as the companies are evident to the customers who using the two together rather seamlessly.”