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MuleSoft Launches More Accessible ESB

Mule 3.0 Enterprise Service Bus connects to outside resources moving it toward supplying both inside and outside connection paths.

MuleSoft, the supplier of the Mule enterprise service bus, launched the 3.0 version of the bus Wednesday to help applications tap resources outside the firewall, according to Ross Mason, lead developer and CEO of the open source firm.

"We're seeing a shift in the way applications are built. There's a lot more data and functionality being used outside the firewall now… We're broadening the definition of what the ESB is trying to connect to," said Mason in an interview.

Mule got established among a handful of financial institutions as the ESB of choice, given its lightweight nature, ease of implementation and performance. It competes with enterprise service buses that are part of the IBM WebSphere and Oracle Fusion middleware suites and the ServiceMix open source ESB from the Apache Software Foundation.

Mule production users include Walmart.com, DHL, Honeywell, Nestle, Nokia and five of the world's top ten banks. Its user community includes 2,500 enterprises, said Mason.

The 3.0 version includes Mule Cloud Connect to allow developers to tie enterprise data and applications to software-as-a-service offerings, web-based applications and resources running in the public cloud. Mule 3.0 provides out-of-the-box connectors to Salesforce.com applications, Amazon Web Services EC2 cloud infrastructure, Facebook and other providers of Web 2.0 services, Mason said.

It has native support for REST. REST imposes a simple, uniform interface between clients and servers using the HTTP protocol over the Internet. It imposes a set of simplifications on how the two will exchange information and the conventions they will abide by in sending requests and receiving information back. It is sometimes contrasted with SOAP, as a more talkative, wordy interface between client and server. Many web services are designed as RESTful services, or simple to implement and efficient to operate.

The 3.0 version has support for AJAX and JavaScript for the first time. The support allows developers to retrieve enterprise data from small applications running in the browser without needing to first establish a body of code in Java or other heavyweight programming language on a server.

Configuring an ESB is specific to each environment where it's implemented. Mason said MuleSoft is trying to ease configuring issues by offering flow-based configuration, a method based on building a message flow path. A second option is pattern-based configuration. Adopters can select one of several common configuration patterns as their starting point, giving developers "a much bigger building block" when Mule comes out of the box, Mason said.

"We will never win the ESB competitive battle on features. The commercial suppliers pack their products with features. I think the way to win is through simplicity. Not simple as in stupid, but make common things easier to do," Mason said. Likewise, when it comes to deployment, Mule is providing a well-defined series of steps for common deployments. Applications can also now be deployed into a hot Mule environment where development is in progress and immediate feedback is sought on planned application connections. Services and applications running under Mule can be isolated and changed without impacting the operation of other services.

Mule users may configure endpoint destinations at runtime rather than needing to supply them when Mule is set up. "IP addresses change all the time," noted Mason. Mule can collect the IP address from a just arrived message or from a central repository.

"Version 3.0 opens up the aperture for new deployments around virtualized and cloud environments. Together all the additions constitute a general jump in the function of the Mule ESB," Mason said.

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