If you’ve worked with technology platforms like Salesforce for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Single Pane of Glass” (SPOG) used. For business users, this holy grail of data-driven decision making gives users the ability to look at all critical pieces of a specific area of the business (or even the entire business) in one place, enabling a holistic view of exactly what’s going on in real time. This view allows them to make informed decisions on how to solve problems or make improvements to their processes, all backed by real data.
The Quest for the Holy Grail
This concept sounds–and in reality, is–great. Who wouldn’t want real-time visibility into all relevant business metrics in a single solution? Who wouldn’t want to look at everything in one place without the need to export spreadsheets and spend hours munging data together to come to a single conclusion, only to repeat the process for each discrete metric that needs measured and decision that needs made? Finally, who wouldn’t want the ability to make decisions more rapidly, innovate more quickly, and move the needle of the business at a breakneck pace?
There’s one key challenge to finding this holy grail, and it’s the same challenge that we’ve come back to as technology professionals for decades and one that is not unique to the Single Pane of Glass: siloed data that lives in disparate systems. While cutting-edge, best-of-breed technologies like Salesforce have accelerated our abilities to provide this single pane of glass view by leaps and bounds, there’s no silver bullet or Houdini-esque magic trick that solves the data accessibility challenges posed by an enterprise IT environment. In real-life environments, this data is often spread across a rapidly-growing list of silos of disconnected software, databases, legacy mainframes, 3rd-party applications, mobile data stores, spreadsheets, IoT devices, and more.
In order to have the Single Pane of Glass view, this challenge must be solved; the data has to be unlocked and accessible by our SPOG provider.
Enter the Application Network
What if we had a standardized way for all of the applications within the silos mentioned above to talk to one another and to communicate and surface their data to one another in a standard way? After all, Salesforce’s SPOG view is only one consumer in need of data from these systems; a truly integrated software environment should have all of these silos working together as a cohesive unit, each with distinct roles and adding differentiating value to the IT environment and the business as a whole. But how do we make applications that were never designed to talk to one another communicate seamlessly?
This is the promise of the Application Network, which is facilitated by the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform.
MuleSoft is a best-of-breed integration platform that allows organizations to create Application Networks, which greatly eases the burden of standing up production-grade integrations between the various components in your IT infrastructure. By harnessing the power of the application network, even data living in legacy applications can be “unlocked” and thus leveraged within any of your business’s needs, including but not limited to creating SPOG views into your processes. The Application Network allows all of these technologies to communicate more effectively and drive tangible business results, and investment in it sets your organization up to be more agile to better address the future needs of the business.
How Is This Different?
You might be saying to yourself “Yes, integration has always been a challenge, so how does a buzzword like “Application Network” change things?”
I’m glad you asked. The power of the MuleSoft Application Network spans several different areas:
- Reusability: Once an application or data silo is online on the application network and integrated with another application, other applications that need to communicate can use the same assets that were already developed. Compare this with the standard point-to-point approach of yesterday, which creates a tight coupling of two applications within your IT environment but does nothing for you the next time you need to integrate one of those two applications with something else.
- Delivery Speed: Because of the re-usability of the assets being created and the opportunity for a clicks-not-code approach via flow orchestrations, MuleSoft customers typically achieve a 4-6X increase in delivery speed for integration-related projects.
- Standardization: An API is essentially a contract that defines how to communicate with a specific application or data silo. Building an application network allows your organization to define these contracts over time, surfacing business functionality that can be used to meet the present and future needs of the business.
- One Solution: The MuleSoft Anypoint Platform was designed to be everything needed to design, implement, maintain, govern, re-use, document, share, and enhance integration-related assets. It is a holistic solution capable of replacing dozens of disconnected pieces of integration in areas like API documentation, governance, security, integration, orchestration, visualization, and reporting. Do you really want to integrate your integration software components together into a solution?
- Enablement: The Application Network represents a shift in how IT organizations provide value to the business. In yesterday’s IT culture, the business would come up with a scenario needing integration, and IT would develop a solution to meet the integration needs. With MuleSoft, IT becomes an enabler for the rest of the business units, facilitating consumption of existing assets and adding new assets only when necessary.
Single Pane of Glass Made Easy
With a proper application network in place, every effort to build a single pane of glass view into a specific process is not a new one. By leveraging the Application Network, each new initiative becomes less time consuming and business stakeholders realize value faster. Over time, these initiatives have a snowball effect of enhancing the application network, which then speeds up future initiatives, and so on.
In today’s business environment, the only constant is change. Whether you’re creating a single pane of glass view, migrating off of legacy software, or connecting that shiny new CRM into your existing infrastructure, the Application Network allows you to be ready to meet this change head on.
Want to learn more about the power of the MuleSoft Application Network? Contact us today.