Integration Cloud is the most recently announced member of salesforce.com’s cloud-branded offerings.
Before delving into what Integration Cloud is, let’s take a look at the origins of the word “cloud” and the term’s evolution at Salesforce.
According to Wikipedia, the term cloud was used as early as 1993. That year, this cloudy video was made to describe the benefits of General Magic’s handheld devices connection to AT&T’s service.
The original term that described Salesforce’s offering was SaaS, or software as a service. From a marketing perspective, the acronym “SaaS” is not very appealing. However, the term did lead to the 2008 introduction of SaaSy, the first in a long line of Salesforce mascots.
Salesforce soon thereafter began popularizing use of the word “cloud” to reference data center-based application delivery over the internet.
The metaphor is that there is infrastructure somewhere out there in the ether that’s invisible and has inner workings that users and developers don’t need to worry about.
The term “cloud” is concise and it has a positive visual connotation. It’s also remarkably versatile.
Expanding The Cloud Concept
Over the years, Salesforce has expanded the cloud branding concept by attaching the term to a variety of product groups, functions and even events. Here are examples:
Functional offerings by department. Sales Cloud and Service Cloud are the prime examples of this.
A set of vertical market functionality. Health Cloud for healthcare and life sciences organizations is built on top of the Salesforce platform. At Saxa Solutions, we specialize in Salesforce Health Cloud.
A formalization of cloud adoption techniques and methods to achieve success. Success Cloud appears in several contexts, including a set of sessions and talks at the annual Dreamforce conference.
A bundle of acquisitions. What were formerly ExactTarget, Radian6 and Buddy Media became Marketing Cloud. Demandware and CloudCraze became Commerce Cloud.
Enter Salesforce Integration Cloud
As part of the original announcement, Salesforce stated, “MuleSoft will power the new Salesforce Integration Cloud, which will enable all enterprises to surface any data—regardless of where it resides—to drive deep and intelligent customer experiences throughout a personalized 1:1 journey.”
With a variety of integration vendors in the ecosystem such as Informatica, Jitterbit and Dell Boomi, why was MuleSoft chosen to power the Integration Cloud?
It’s in part due in part to the unifying approach to integrations MuleSoft took, which enabled them to win many enterprise clients and scale rapidly. MuleSoft refers to the approach as API-led-connectivity.
Integration Cloud and APIs
The most common way to send data into an application or to request data from an application is through an API, or application programming interface.
MuleSoft has focused heavily on the use of and development of APIs. The company’s technology allows developers to design APIs faster and more efficiently than creating them from the ground up.
With what MuleSoft termed “unified tooling for the entire lifecycle of API and integration projects”, users only need to learn a single framework in which code can be reused and best practices can be enforced. The result for MuleSoft’s clients has been faster and higher quality project delivery.
Members of MuleSoft’s third party ecosystem have also created connectors and made them available for purchase.
For example, a hospital may have an IBM i (AS/400) mainframe, which is a system that was introduced in 1988, well before today’s APIs even existed.
If a Salesforce Health Cloud developer wants to request patient data from the IBM i, they don’t need to build their own communication protocols. They can use a pre-developed connector to rapidly create an API.
Because of the multi-point approach, enterprises with a combination of legacy on-premises systems and contemporary cloud-based applications can use the Integration Cloud to more efficiently exchange data among these systems.
Mobile Project Delivery
Another reason that MuleSoft is a key component of the Salesforce Integration Cloud is the company’s focus on mobile.
Most large organizations either have or are working on a mobility strategy. However, IT departments are faced with the ongoing challenge of building and delivering mobile applications as quickly as the business demands them. Many organizations report a significant backlog of mobile apps.
Other issues include updating & maintaining existing mobile apps as well as ensuring back-end systems can handle the number of requests from mobile devices.
MuleSoft’s API-led mobile connectivity helps better execute on the delivery components of a mobile strategy.
Location, Location, Location
Like Salesforce, MuleSoft was founded in and is headquartered in San Francisco. While geographic proximity was certainly not a primary factor for selecting the company and its platform for the Salesforce Integration Cloud, it certainly may have been a a reason the long term relationship between the companies flourished.
It’s probably fair to say that San Francisco-based MuleSoft employees will not object to relocating to the new Salesforce Tower.