2011: A Mule Retrospective

December 19 2011


As cliché as it is to say, it’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I last took stock of Mule. When I look back on 2011, it’s absolutely incredible to me how far MuleSoft and the Mule community have come.

Mule Kicking Higher and Harder

Mule continues to see incredible growth rates in terms of its usage and community activity:

  • Monthly downloads of the open source Mule project have more than doubled in the past year.
  • The developer community now exceeds 100,000 users.
  • More than 3,200 organizations globally are now using Mule in production.

ESB 3.0

First generation ESBs were proprietary, heavy-weight and expensive.  Mule was built to change all of that that. It focused on the developer, which meant that it was built as a light-weight platform that developers could spin up in minutes, create testable integrations, use existing tools such as Maven and Eclipse and build servers. This was the second generation ESB and it created the open source ESB category. Mule 3 is the foundation of our vision for the third generation ESB. This generation leap is defined by the ability to reach beyond the firewall to the cloud with Mule , a platform that enables integration, mediation, orchestration and service publishing all using the same model, Flow. And we are building out tooling for both developers (Studio) and ops (Enterprise Console) that redefine the way you interact with your integrations. So what did we do here in 2011?

  • We continued to make it more intuitive to build integrations and orchestrate services using Mule’s Flow model.
  • We built out our library of cloud connectors. Over 60 connectors are now available, including Salesforce.com, Twilio, Magento (Ebay), MongoDB, NetSuite, PubNub, Twitter, LinkedIn and PayPal.
  • We’ve made it easier than ever for developers to create and use their own cloud connectors, with the Mule DevKit.
  • We introduced Mule Studio, an Eclipse-based graphical development environment that makes Mule accessible to an entirely new audience of developers who prefer a graphical drag-and-drop tool over an XML configuration. What makes Mule Studio truly special is its  round-trip editing capability — a first among ESB design tools — which lets you design and edit your Mule application interchangeably in the graphical tool or the XML notation. This lets you build your application using the graphical environment, while still retaining the visibility, flexibility and control of the underlying code.
  • With the recent release of Mule Enterprise 3.2, we took Mule’s enterprise capabilities to an entirely new level with features for reliability, scalability, and business-level visibility.
  • Mule Enterprise now has an out-of-the-box clustering capability that lets you configure a group of Mule instances as an active-active cluster using the management console. This makes Mule highly available and scalable, and allows you to design for zero-message-loss applications.
  • We also added a powerful Business Event Analyzer in Mule Enterprise, which gives you business-level visibility and insight into your Mule application, letting you answer questions like: “what happened to my order?” or “why did this transaction fail?” In addition, the Business Event Analyzer captures and exposes valuable data that can be leveraged for business intelligence or BAM.
  • We’re constantly working to make the on-ramp to Mule ever easier, and 2011 was no exception. We invested a ton of time and energy throughout the year in improving the documentation, adding richer and more detailed how-to content, creating real-world examples, and building a library of step-by-step tutorials for doing common things with Mule.

Taking integration to the cloud with Mule iON

There’s no question that we are undergoing a generational shift in computing, with the massive adoption of software as a service (SaaS) and cloud. With this shift, we are also seeing an explosion in the number of public APIs. However, along with the benefits that cloud and APIs bring, there come serious challenges, with the leading one being integration.

MuleSoft undertook a market research project with cloud analyst firm THINKstrategies, in which we discovered integration to be the #1 challenge facing SaaS and cloud vendors as they strive to gain market adoption.

To address this challenge, we built and released the world’s’ first true integration platform as a service (iPaaS), called iON. iON is a fully multi-tenant and elastic cloud service, built on the same “battle-tested” integration technology as Mule, at the core. iON is the easiest way for SaaS vendors, system integrators, and end-users to integrate cloud and SaaS applications with each other and with on-premise applications.

One of our first success stories with iON was a partnership with SaaS vendor PeopleMatter, one of the hottest SaaS companies in the HR / talent management space. PeopleMatter uses iON to integrate its offering with its customers’ other systems, cutting new customer implementation time down from 3 weeks to fewer than 2 days.

Mule hits the road

2011 was busier than ever for us as we crisscrossed the globe talking with our customers, partners, and members of the Mule community.

  • This year, we continued our popular Mule Summit global tour, with a series of 1-day events focused on integration architecture best practices, Mule roadmap discussions, and real-world user case studies. Over the course of the year, we brought Mule Summit to major cities around the world including London, Paris, Stockholm, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and of course, San Francisco.
  • I had the pleasure of taking the Mule message out to the world, speaking at premier cloud and Java events including Dreamforce, JavaOne, Cloud Computing Expo, Qcon, GlueCon, and AlwaysOn OnDemand.
  • We were also very active this year in the developer community, sponsoring and hosting cloud meetups and Java user groups across the US and Europe. In addition, the leaders in our Buenos Aires office created and spearheaded the first Argentina JUG, attracting over 500 members and counting in just a few short months!

We don’t like to brag, but…

When I started MuleSoft, I vowed to put our customers’ success at the top of the priority list, and that ethos continues to permeate our company culture. Our belief is that commitment to customers ultimately pays off, and we are seeing that in spades. The best news is that our continued success and growth will enable us to invest even more in delivering value to our customers.


  • As a company, we are seeing record-breaking results, continuing our doubling growth trend quarter after quarter, and year after year
  • We continue to see subscription renewal rates at over 85%, driven by our industry-leading 96% customer satisfaction rate
  • We nearly doubled our customer base this year, adding industry leading name brands like AXA, MasterCard, BBC Red Bee Media, web search leader Infospace, plus major players in banking, insurance, manufacturing, social gaming, media and telecom.
  • We enriched our partner ecosystem, establishing strategic partnerships with global firms such as Accenture and CapGemini, as well as forging new partnerships and deepening existing ones with regional integration experts such as FastConnect in France, Entiros in Sweden, and Open Answers in the UK. We also continued to build out our partnerships within the open source community, with companies like Alfresco and Liferay, and in the cloud ecosystem with Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Twilio, PeopleMatter, and Zuora.

What’s Next?

Much of what we do in 2012 will be governed by one goal: creating an unrivalled user experience for Mule users, whether working on-premise or in the cloud. First of all, we are improving the on-ramp for developers needing to integrate applications and services/APIs. Expect Mule Studio to grow in leaps and bounds to create the best IDE experience for anyone needing to integrate applications and services. Documentation and examples will continue to improve as we invest in making Mule easier to use. We are creating a seamless user experience between on-premise and cloud. This means that applications you build in Mule will also run in the cloud and vice versa. There is no other integration platform out there that makes this possible. With Mule, you can integrate once and run anywhere.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about the simplicity of iApps.  iApps (integration Applications) package common integration scenarios, making them consumable by a wider audience. These iApps, can be built by developers, but configured by the users that rely on them. We already have a healthy number of customers on iON running iApps and we’ll be putting more effort into Mule, the iON platform and services to make building iApps super simple.

Finally, we’ll continue to embrace the API explosion through Mule Cloud Connect, enabling more companies to consume more APIs more easily as well as build their own APIs. In a similar vein, we are really excited to see people starting to think about data movement on the Web in . Mule is the perfect platform for real-time processing and we’ll be opening up new possibilities to make enterprise social applications more enterprise-y, big data less batch-oriented and APIs more efficient. Stay tuned and happy holidays!

Follow: @rossmason@mulejockey

We'd love to hear your opinion on this post

3 Responses to “2011: A Mule Retrospective”

  1. Great year! Thanks, Ross, and happy holidays.

  2. I can’t find any references to the MDI on the MuleSoft website. What happened to the product? Is it still available? If not, how do I do data transformation when using Mule ESB?

    • Hi Roman,

      Thanks for your interest in Data Mapping.
      Based on customer feedback we decided to retire MDI. We are working on a replacement for graphical Data Mapping that will be tightly integrated with Studio.
      Please stay tuned as there will be more news around April time frame