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MuleSoft

A Muley Movember: APIs, MuleSoft, & Mustaches

MuleSoft. API Management. Mustaches. I know what you’re thinking. One of these isn’t like the others. What if I told you that growing a mustache has more in common with building complex APIs than you ever thought possible? Movember is upon us once again this year. Movember is a foundation based on growing glorious mustaches to raise awareness and charitable donations every November to support men’s health. To the connection of MuleSoft and mustaches, we’ve gone into detail and laid out 5 categories. Just like the razor, MuleSoft offers the most cutting-edge technology

So without further ado, I “mustache” you a question. Are you ready to gain a new perspective into the world of MuleSoft and mustaches?

Transform Your Look

Transformation is at the forefront of building an API as well as growing your mustache. Picture your technology stack and tell us what you see. Are there multiple services that are performing inconsistently, maybe your data is unreliable and dirty, or maybe you have become so bogged down with tech debt that you can’t see the forest through the trees? 

Now, just like before, picture a beard. One that is unruly and scraggly and has no shape or direction. While a mustache is a great way to transform your look, MuleSoft allows us to transform your data. With the help of MuleSoft, data transformations become simple, inconsistent services and endpoints can be rebuilt to perform at lightning speed, and tech debt will begin to clean itself up.

Choose Your Style

Now that you have committed to transformation, a style needs to be chosen. This is an important piece of the puzzle. Are you a Fu Manchu or a handlebars guy? Are you wanting to make a statement with this mustache or do you want it to be more functional? 

The same style question can be asked around your API network. What are you wanting your APIs to do? Are you having issues with lower-level services or would you like to build out multiple layers to handle the flow from client-facing UI to services and back? Maybe you need a complex sync process between multiple systems, which MuleSoft handles very well. Choosing a style is a key piece in the research and planning phase before any targeted progress can be made. Below are some of the more common styles/types of APIs:

      • Open APIs: Allows any developer to access.
      • Partner APIs: Only authorized developers are given access.
      • Internal APIs: Allows for only internal teams to access.
      • Composite APIs: Combines multiple APIs.

Embrace Your Growth Patterns

You may be follicly or technologically challenged. Not everyone can grow a mustache or fully implement MuleSoft to build their API networks on their own. 

While Green Irony is here to help implement all of your MuleSoft needs, we can only offer tips and suggestions with the mustache growth. Slowly growing out your stache or replacing functionality over time in smaller pieces makes the transition and the growth seem less abrupt. 

Mustaches take time to grow. APIs take time to properly build and test. Knowing how you want to grow is pivotal to the overall success of a project. Using a modular API approach gives more flexibility over time. Small pieces over time allow for a seamless approach that allows you to continue building and replacing piece by piece, API by API, until you’ve reached your final form. Just like with a mustache, you don’t want to slap a temporary fake on your lip and call it natural. With this continuous growth process, your outdated systems become more performant and less error-prone without the inherent risk of a big bang approach.

Don’t Neglect Maintenance

So you’ve reached your final form. Production deployments are in the past and systems are connecting and running seamlessly. Or, you’re walking around with the most amazing mustache, comments are flowing in, and you’re even considering changing your name to Mustachio. You may think that it’s time to step back, accept the recognition, and move on, but maintenance is another key piece of the puzzle. You have to be good to the rest of your face and also be good to the rest of your technology stack. 

This is where investing in a quality team/trimmer comes in. Technology is constantly changing, data gets ugly fast, services go down. You must keep trimming, keep modifying, and keep your APIs up to date. This is one of the benefits of moving away from a point-to-point integration approach as it allows you to scale and lower complexity as future requirements arise.

With a mustache, you may notice that your handlebars are going all over the place and need some proper guidance or updates to straighten out. By giving us a much simpler way of updating or replacing APIs, MuleSoft does this by breaking out functionality into different API layers. To maintain a flow, it isn’t necessary to do a large rewrite. If one system needs to be updated or replaced, it’s as simple as building a new API or updating the old one without the need to impact the whole integration. Similar to maintaining your mustache, only the smaller areas will need to be affected.

Be Patient

MuleSoft is built to expedite the time to deliver and build out solutions in a much shorter timeline. Patience is a learned skill, but valuable for both growing a mustache and building complex integrations. Halfway through your MuleSoft project or mustache growth, you may not know what the final product will look like. 

Nobody will fault you for being anxious and concerned about the results. There is a lot of pressure with both of these topics, but with proper planning and following the steps above, you can have confidence in where you’ll end up. 

It’s like that famous quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” The same can be said for growing out an epic stache or building out a successful API network.

As you’re thinking about your next integration project or just starting to see the peach fuzz that will inevitably lead to an award-winning mustache, follow the suggestions above and you will surely find success. 

Please consider contributing to Movember to help raise awareness and support men’s health by growing mustaches, donating, or simply spreading the love. We hope you’ve had a fan-stache-tic time becoming more aware of the similarities between building with MuleSoft and growing a mustache and I hope we didn’t stubble over our words too much. I’d love to stay and chat, but I really “mustache.”

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MuleSoft

Balancing the Scales of API Networks with MuleSoft and CloudHub

In a previous blog post, Aaron Shook broke down how MuleSoft as the platform for your API network can be the key to modernizing the legacy systems driving critical areas of your business. In this post, I want to take that explanation a step further and breakdown how MuleSoft can be a fulcrum in the balance between your business’s needs and the methods and speed of technology to address those needs.

The Current State of Enterprise Application Networks

There’s always a balancing act that must be maintained when developing enterprise application networks. Often, the balance is focused on size, though not of any one monolothic application or complex microservice. Instead, it’s the size of the business’ application network.

More and more businesses are relying on building new applications that communicate with older, existing applications developed over the years internally, and those of third-party sources. New microservices and APIs are built to bring all of this information together to fulfill an internal business need, or build out a more robust offering for their clients. Even more APIs and data flow systems are then required for financial reporting and trends analysis.

The Problems as API Networks Evolve

At some point, an architect or CTO comes to the realization that the evolution of business needs over time have resulted in a number of disparate mainframe systems, web applications, financial systems, CRMs, so on and so forth. The ability to manage user access, security, and overall maintenance and operations begin to accrue not only technical debt, but administrative and project management debt. Even attempting to discuss and agree on a single API design often leads to scattered internal wiki pages, email chains, and often multiple conflicting API design documents.

Now everything slows down – development, the ability to orchestrate multiple layers of APIs, or just trying to find a single source of truth for the company’s API offerings. Progress begins to grind to a halt. As an architect or CTO, one must find a balance that allows for autonomous changes, updates, and new offerings to be made, all the while coordinating the overall flow, access, operation, and maintenance of this living, breathing system.

MuleSoft and their CloudHub iPaaS offering provide that balance, as I’ll detail below.

API Design With MuleSoft

Having a centralized source of truth for an API spec that reflects previous, current and future versions of an API, and that can be shared amongst departments and units is very important in an enterprise setting.

MuleSoft’s Design View and Exchange allows architects and API designers to develop API specs that are automatically backed by mock implementations and include basic validation declarations of fields and more. These specs can be shared and viewed by those within the company, acting as both documentation and testing platforms before the implementation is ever touched.

On top of that, the implementations can be automatically “discovered” or associated with a particular specification, allowing for multiple concurrent versions to be running, and historical implementations to be viewable by the internal team and others.

As more APIs are added, individual data types can be aggregated into common API data type libraries and shared across APIs. This improves both consistency of data and models across APIs, but also standardizes the languages used by architects, developers, and product managers across the enterprise.

API design provides the foundation from which implementation, changes, and discussions spring. This ethos is ever-present in MuleSoft’s infrastructure, and has saved Green Irony a vast amount of time in working with clients and keeping all of product and software development on the same page.

Application Network Security Within MuleSoft’s CloudHub

Security policies, SLA tiers, and access management can all be handled within MuleSoft’s CloudHub platform. It comes built with hooks and supporting modules for Oauth, SAML, basic authentication, client id/secret access, and more. The interesting thing is that policies themselves are associated with a combination of a particular API and consumer – not with the API’s implementation or code. This is important since it allows you to associate a particular policy with many different APIs and manage access across your API network without having to be concerned with how a particular API itself is implemented.

API consumers can request access to a particular API that abides by their associated credentials and CloudHub itself will handle disseminating the request to admins, who themselves have an interface for approving or rejecting individual requests.

On the other side of things, HTTP requests allow for the inclusion of TLS trust and keystores, so there’s no need to sacrifice on the security of outgoing communications.

Banks, insurance companies, and various other financial institutions are using MuleSoft as a bedrock foundation for their application networks. One of the main reasons for that use is MuleSoft’s focus on security. The ease with which we can implement and configure TLS and other security protocols further solidifies their focus on protecting data and network traffic.

Developing APIs With MuleSoft’s Anypoint Studio

Since the API design and implementation are entirely separate, the roles of architects, API managers, and implementation developers are kept separate. This separation allows architects to work with product development teams to create, update, and improve the design of an API without impacting developers. Once an API has been designed, developers can import the new or updated API spec into Anypoint Studio and begin working on implementation and changes.

Unlike most frameworks and platforms, MuleSoft’s Anypoint Studio will automatically generate the basic plumbing and connectors for an API based on the spec itself. When an API design is published to Exchange, that connector can then be imported and used by any other API with access. This aforementioned handling of plumbing gives developers input validation, automatically generates MUnit tests for each endpoint, and provides other assorted freebies.

The ease with which development teams can pull API designs into new projects and update existing projects with changes to the API design cannot be overstated. Additionally, these changes to the API are reflected in the automatically generated connectors by API version, which greatly simplifies updating other APIs and interfacing with them.

There’s also a significant depth to errors, allowing for the continuation of processing if an error is reached, or allowing it to bubble up to the response. All of these errors are wrapped by intuitive namespace/identifier combos that lets a developer easily categorize and reclassify errors.

These features all come together to provide developers with more time to focus on the implementation itself. Once development is complete, the API implementation can be deployed to CloudHub where it will be automatically associated with the API specification.

Of course, no API is perfect or complete out of the gate. The spec will change over time. When an API designer updates the specification, developers can import the changes into their Anypoint Studio project, where top-level endpoint updates will be handled automatically.

DevOps for Application Networks With MuleSoft

After development has completed, it must be deployed, monitored, and maintained. MuleSoft’s CloudHub offering provides for common DevOps needs, from CI/CD, application network monitoring, to VPC management, and more.

Many development teams attempt to wrangle their various technology stacks into some semblance of a CI/CD flow. Understanding this need, MuleSoft has a variety of APIs that can be used to handle deployment, monitoring, and various others needs. Whether it’s Jenkins, Azure, or any other automation setup, the combination of MuleSoft’s maven plugin and REST APIs lets you run and publish test results, as well as deploy full applications, their updates, and associated SLA policies, and more.

Provisioning VPCs, region management, clusters, high availability settings, load balancing – all are actually really easy to do with the Runtime Manager admin interface. It’s also easy to integrate your SLA policy infrastructure and manage those in the API Manager section of CloudHub, and how those APIs are tied to the actual worker applications in Runtime Manager. Runtime Manager admins can also build their dashboards to track their applications, or if already using Splunk, configure their CloudHub workers to interact with and send log data to Splunk.

As applications are running, there will be inevitable issues that need to be tracked down across an application network. Usually, these are associated with individual requests that are failing. MuleSoft comes with a built-in feature called “correlation ID”, that will let external clients communicating with MuleSoft, and especially requests between MuleSoft APIs, to log errors and anything else and have them associated with that particular ID.

As with API design, security, and development, the suite of features presented to DevOps personnel simplifies the provisioning, management, and maintenance of APIs.

Conclusion

There is no one single feature in the MuleSoft family that causes it to dominate the API industry. Instead, it’s the culmination of all the helpful features and abilities across every aspect of API network design, development, and implementation.

MuleSoft and CloudHub gives enterprise companies a holistic view and insight into all of their APIs on the application network. Everything from having a built-in API documentation and source of truth, to full-feature operations support – these are all extremely helpful and useful for businesses trying to get a hold of all of their APIs. Sure, keep the APIs on other systems, but have MuleSoft provide its own tiny API microservice interface to them, and bring them into the fold of everything else in your business.

Everything in IT is a balance. MuleSoft attempts to be a fulcrum in the balance between a business’ needs and the methods and speed of technology to implement them. It goes out of its way to provide a suite of features, all customizable, to remove the boilerplate and solved problems in building and maintaining application networks. This allows developers, business analysts, and operational teams the freedom and time to focus on the actual business problem and not on recreating the wheel around API design, implementation, and management.

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MuleSoft

The Key to Modernizing Your Legacy Systems – The Value of MuleSoft

Legacy software is all around us, and it’s driving mission-critical software systems. These systems are often responsible for critical areas of businesses like insurance claims processing, bank transactions, and inventory management. Today’s stakeholder demands visibility into what’s happening in these systems and does not know or care that these systems were not designed to support today’s digital initiatives.

This blog lays out the landscape and describes how these legacy systems came to be so prevalent, the role they play in today’s enterprise IT environments, and the role MuleSoft can play in unlocking these systems and allowing businesses to incorporate these mission-critical workflows within the digital initiatives of today.

Ancient Times: The Year 2005

Like many of our engineers at Green Irony, I started my career at IBM working in R&D on middleware software platforms. More specifically, I was part of IBM’s WebSphere Application Server Network Deployment product development team. If you’re not familiar the product, this Java Enterprise Edition platform served as middleware and allowed both IBM and customers to build custom applications adhering to the JEE spec while also adding several other valuable pieces that went beyond the scope of the spec like high availability, dynamic caching, load balancing, etc. that allowed the platform to scale to the demands of the enterprise. If you’ve heard of Microsoft’s .NET platform, you can think of them as similar and virtually interchangeable for purposes of this article.

I came onto the team in 2005 near the middle of the development cycle for WAS (WebSphere Application Server) 6.1, which was released in the summer of 2006. At that point in time, the product was mature in the market and in heavy use by many of the major banks, insurance carriers, retailers, and other large enterprise technology teams. This product and .NET were basically “how things were done” in the enterprise during that time period, but SaaS software and new paradigms like mobile would soon enter the picture and heavily disrupt the technology landscape.

Ancient Software Relics in a Changed World: The Year 2019

The software platforms and development paradigms that we utilized from my time as a product developer in 2005 still exist today and cannot be ignored. In order to highlight why using these older patterns today is such a challenge, keep in mind that the following table-stakes technology concepts were still little known, non-existent, or pie-in-the-sky in 2005:

  • Mobile web and application usage
  • Cloud computing, SaaS, PaaS
  • API economies
  • Data warehouse and data lakes
  • Predictive analytics and artificial intelligence
  • The ubiquitous “Digital transformation” umbrella of initiatives
  • The Chief Digital Officer position
  • The original iPhone

In short, the technology landscape has been turned upside down since I first started my career at IBM. Despite this fact, the same patterns used to develop software on WAS in the year 2005 are still in heavy use. From my lens as a technology consultant, these patterns are still in use for two primary scenarios:

  1. Legacy systems in enterprise environments that have mission-critical data and workflows
  2. Slow-moving but mission-critical technology stacks in industries where even new products are still developed with these patterns. Good examples are insurance policies, claims, and billing systems or the majority of generally available e-commerce platforms.

Even in industries like insurance where the in-house technology stack has been slow to evolve, the customer’s needs and demands in the digital arena have not. The customer expects to be able to obtain the information that they need when they need it. They don’t care about the fact that your policy system is on a mainframe that was stood up in the 1970s—they want to be able to modify their shipping address and billing information in self-service scenarios, review claim information on the fly, and receive a quote for a new policy without having to enter a ton of information.

How to Modernize Your Legacy Systems

Since these legacy systems are not going away any time soon, technology executives must find new and better ways to retrofit them into the bigger picture of their technology visions to drive value to their customers. This goal is easier said than done since these systems pre-dated digital transformation initiatives by a decade or more and thus were never intended to address these challenges. Our task then is to make these systems communicate in ways that didn’t exist when they were created.

MuleSoft is the best and only solution in the market that is tailor-made for accomplishing this mission. While many Enterprise Service Buses (ESB) and other integration solutions exist, no other was purpose-built for solving these problems and other options feature heavy compromises. With a projected number of over $800 billion spent on tactical integration projects in 2018 (roughly 22% of all IT budgets), solving these integration challenges is critical or enterprises risk treading water and falling behind in the rapidly-evolving digital landscape. Investment in this area solidifies the foundation of an enterprise IT environment, enabling the organization to deliver on new projects exponentially faster as MuleSoft’s presence and its library of re-usable assets grows with time.

MuleSoft’s value is broad in scope and impossible to capture in a blog of this length. At a high level, think of it as a platform, toolset, mindset, and prescriptive approach that allows your line of business to work with your technology and development team on a platform that provides the following benefits:

  • Facilitation of best-practices in architecture and development of APIs
  • Rapid development on a platform built to sustain and grow entire enterprise networks of APIs
  • Integration with legacy-systems by transforming them into modern, consumable APIs
  • Reduction of operational overhead and complexity via an optional PaaS deployment model
  • Increase in developer efficiency via re-use of lego-like assets in an “Apple AppStore” sharing model
  • Capture, ownership, and re-use of enterprise business rules and logic as API assets
  • Provide, orchestrate, govern, and secure everything on a single unified platform

All of these benefits add up to real business value and increase in the “clock speed” of a business, enabling the business to deliver value to stakeholders much faster than it otherwise would have been able to with the same number of technology resources.

What’s Next

We believe that MuleSoft is the key to unlocking enterprise IT environments to effectively drive digital transformation efforts and one of the most strategic technology investments a business can make. While the toolset itself is revolutionary in that it combines a highly-effective technology platform that was purpose-built to task with architectural and delivery methodologies effective at providing the guardrails necessary for successful execution, a great deal of expertise in enterprise architecture and development is critical in ensuring a solid MuleSoft foundation. In other words, while MuleSoft does not reduce the need for top-end architects and developers, it does provide these top-end architects and developers with a superior toolset to operate on that eliminates a great deal of time-consuming and tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on design, re-usability, scalability, and architectural best practices and to accomplish more in the same amount of time.

Want to dive deeper into the benefits of MuleSoft? In our post, Balancing The Scales of API Networks with MuleSoft and Cloudhub, Kevin McAbee breaks down how MuleSoft can be a fulcrum in the balance between your business’s needs and the methods and speed of technology to address those needs.

Want to learn more about why Green Irony is so excited about MuleSoft? We’d love to hear from you.

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Green Irony Joins the MuleSoft Partner Program

Green Irony to Leverage Anypoint Platform to Support Connecting Applications and Data in the Cloud and On-Premises 

Raleigh – June 3rd, 2019 – Green Irony today announced its partnership with MuleSoft to provide consulting services for MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™. Anypoint Platform unlocks the power of API-led connectivity, enabling organizations to connect apps, data and devices more rapidly and efficiently. 

MuleSoft provides the leading platform for building application networks . Green Irony’s implementation expertise and industry knowledge, coupled with MuleSoft’s technology, gives clients the support and tools they need to harness the rapidly growing number of apps and data sources. With Anypoint Platform, organizations can unlock new revenue channels, improve customer experiences and drive innovation. 

Green Irony utilizes MuleSoft’s revolutionary API-led connectivity approach to fuel digital transformation efforts for forward-thinking customers. By combining decades of experience in middleware and integration technology and architectural best practices with expertise in MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, Green Irony is well-equipped to handle the complex integration use cases of today’s digital initiatives. 

Green Irony’s process revolves around delivering business outcomes. Its phased approach to projects involves understanding the customers’ business problems and goals and using these to create a staged approach to delivering capabilities and fueling business outcomes with MuleSoft. Each deliverable adds to the overall strength of the resulting application network, meaning new initiatives on the technology roadmap are less time-consuming than their predecessors and the overall value of the technology artifacts increases with time and investment. 

“MuleSoft’s combination of outcome-based delivery, product superiority, and architectural excellence provides clients an unparalleled recipe for success,” Aaron Shook, CEO and Founder of Green Irony said. “Our team of experts has spent dozens of years working in the middleware, integration, and API space, and MuleSoft’s API-led approach to connectivity is truly a game-changer. We are excited about our partnership with Mulesoft because their differentiating value proposition aligns with our own: delivering transformative business outcomes for our clients.” 

“With the explosion of disparate technologies today, connecting them all quickly and efficiently is the key to gaining a competitive edge. Through its partnership with MuleSoft, Green Irony is enabling its customers to create a dynamic application network to achieve their goals and accelerate their pace of business,” said Brent Hayward, senior vice president of global channels and alliances, MuleSoft. “We’re pleased to welcome Green Irony into MuleSoft’s partner ecosystem and look forward to working together to deliver significant business impact to our mutual customers.” 

As a MuleSoft Partner, Green Irony helps clients address on-premises, cloud and hybrid integration use cases with scale and ease of use. 

About MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform

MuleSoft’s Anypoint PlatformTM is a leading application network platform. It allows organizations to create composite applications that connect apps, data, and devices through API-led connectivity to form a flexible application network. Anypoint Platform is a unified, single solution for iPaaS and full lifecycle API management, both on-premises and in the cloud.

About Green Irony

Green Irony combines high-end enterprise technology expertise with heavily experienced and certified MuleSoft and Salesforce experts to maximize the return on its customers’ investments in the MuleSoft and Salesforce technology platforms. Green Irony’s core focuses include the financial services vertical, MuleSoft application networks, and complex Salesforce implementations. Green Irony blends expertise in enterprise architecture, Salesforce, and MuleSoft to build best-of-breed solutions with real business impact for its partners. 

MuleSoft is a registered trademark of MuleSoft, Inc., a Salesforce company. All other marks are those of respective owners.