mulesoft-founder-ross-mason
Systems Integration

What's making MuleSoft so hot to trot?

MuleSoft has just scored another $128m in a funding round led by Salesforce Ventures, the VC wing of Salesforce.com. That takes total funding to $259m at a valuation of $1.5bn but outside its niche, the company is not well known, even by the rarefied standards of business-to-business IT.

Integration software is one of the less well known areas of B2B technology, perhaps because some insist on giving it terrible names or descriptions: ‘middleware’ or ‘glue’ are just a couple that come to mind. But in fact, this category is responsible for the most important connections that information systems depend on. You might think of integration providers as modern equivalents of the waterways, locks and levies on which countries once depended on for trade and communications.

MuleSoft obviously thinks a little less poetically but its name at least hints at the value of these programs in taking out the donkey’s work for manual point-to-point connections. This young company is making waves, even if firms with billion-dollar valuations are so thick on the ground that they should be renamed pigeons rather than unicorns.

Part of Mulesoft’s appeal is tied to an uber-trend. The need to connect the world’s applications, data and devices never stops going up, has gone up since you started reading this sentence, and will never seek to stop going up until the world embraces Luddite thinking.

“Dealing with this is what digital transformation is all about: everything needs to be connected and everything will be digital,” said Ross Mason, the British founder of this San Francisco-headquartered company when I talked to him by phone recently.

I first talked to him about a year and a half ago, when the company was in hypergrowth and he told me the story of how he founded the company in the sleepy country of Malta, from where his wife hails. “[As a foreigner] in Malta you’re either running to something or running away and I wasn’t running away,” he joked at the time.

So what’s new?

Mason said MuleSoft’s channel business has more than doubled, thanks to blue-chip partners like Deloitte and Capgemini, while headcount has doubled. New subscriptions are doubling annually.

He sees a move away from the old clunk-click point-to-point integration to open APIs. Mobile is becoming one of the key drivers for change too, he added.

For Mason, the old guard of integration firms are overdue a shake-up as the big stack players like IBM and Oracle have bought up independents, and the remaining independents like Tibco and Informatica have architectures for another age rather than for what some call the API Economy.

“The goal of the IT organisation is to enable the business to move fast and self-serve,” he said. “There’s a quick way and that’s the API connectivity way where you expose things as interfaces.”

That’s fair enough but in the harsh reality of the enterprise most companies are dealing with spaghetti from mergers, demergers, acquisitions and strategy about-turns, I suggest. A new architecture is tough when you’ve built a vast estate the old way.

“Everybody’s got a bit of spaghetti on their hands when it comes to integration,” he acknowledged. “Most organisations look at a lot of disparate systems either built internally or acquired over time.”

But a lot of them are reducing their number of datacentres from many to few and adopting cloud in some shape or form, so there’s the chance to switch.

Standards might help?

“There isn’t a lot of movement about standardisation,” Mason said. “RAML normalises endpoints and the way you describe things. There’s no HTML for machines to exchange information across the net and RAML is the one that’s filling the gap, but every API is like a snowflake – slightly different.”

And there was me saying there was no poetry.

As for the future, Mason expects the Internet of Things to start a new wave of integration in both B2C and B2B. Maybe at that point people will wake up to the importance of this often overlooked area.

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

« Georgia app to curb dirty restaurants, hospitals & schools

NEXT ARTICLE

Brazilian retailer lets everybody set up shop on the web »
author_image
Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Consultant for IDG Connect

  • twt
  • twt
  • Mail

Recommended for You

How to (really) evaluate a developer's skillset

Adrian Bridgwater’s deconstruction & analysis of enterprise software

Unicorns are running free in the UK but Brexit poses a tough challenge

Trevor Clawson on the outlook for UK Tech startups

Cloudistics aims to trump Nutanix with 'superconvergence' play

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Poll

Is your organization fully GDPR compliant?