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How MuleSoft’s technology and API-led connectivity approach compliments and improves Salesforce Cloud offering

Posted on: April 20, 2018

Following the announcement of Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft (pending deal closure) Salesforce were quick to state that MuleSoft’s first class integration and connectivity capabilities will power their new Integration Cloud platform.

There is no doubt the Salesforce platform has revolutionised approaches to customer engagement experiences and the sales management lifecycle. Yet part of the reason for the acquisition stems from the recognition that, while “every digital transformation starts and ends with the customer”(Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff), not all customer data resides or is mastered on the Salesforce platform. For customers to increase the value from their Salesforce adoption they often need to connect to information sources throughout their enterprise, across public and private clouds, as well as access legacy system data.

At Ricston we have witnessed first hand how adopters of Salesforce Sales, Service and Marketing Clouds perennially face challenges in how to source and leverage value-add data, which enhances and personalises the customer contact experience and provides increased opportunity generation, as well as up and cross sell opportunities. The ability to source, integrate and act on external data is a central tenet of building a mature and effective customer 360º view.

[Register for a Ricston webinar for Salesforce partners “The MuleSoft Platform & API-led Connectivity Primer”]

To date two general approaches exist to making such data available in Salesforce:

  • Data-synchronisation: export, transform and load the data into custom or big objects (and periodically synchronise state change)
  • On-demand request: make API requests for data against systems/service exposed using standardised data-sources

MuleSoft’s Anypoint connectivity platform is equally capable of helping organisations address the integration needs through either approach. Traditionally data-synchronisation approach has been the more widely adopted; customers using MuleSoft’s Salesforce connector implemented integration processes to push data into Salesforce or poll and query to extract data on schedule.

However two challenges inevitably arise with this first approach. The cost of storage to maintain the volumes of data in Salesforce can be prohibitive. Secondly the complexity in the processing and transformation logic to consistently maintain the state of data in multiple places results in bloated integration applications, in which business is reluctant to evolve beyond version 1.0.

We have seen companies running into these challenges, most recently – an airline Ricston are working with rapidly discovered that intention to synchronise passenger data in their Salesforce instance was untenable. The cost of duplicating historical volumes of data in Salesforce simply did not stack up.

In such cases understanding of capabilities and core principles of API-led connectivity approach, that MuleSoft are actively advocating, saves the day. We addressed the challenge with the alternative through providing an OData API that could provide a query-able view on top of Client’s passenger reservation data, it was far more effective and cost efficient. It also provided the data consumer, in this case Salesforce, with a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility in how they utilise the data, yet the original source system retained its control and data mastership. (Find more details about this use-case in our blog)

With the growth of public and private APIs, organisations are beginning to witness a critical mass of accessible data-sources, which means Salesforce acting as a direct consumer is a viable and attractive option.

Finally, following the acquisition announcement I hope to see first class support between Salesforce and MuleSoft, in particular around their middleware RAML and OpenAPI v3.0 specifications – to enhance further the OData support forged through Lightning Connect and Swagger 2.0 support in Lightning Flow recently offered in External Services beta.

This vision allows companies to more readily self-service their data consumption and business process needs through seamless connectivity to systems and low code user-interfaces; crucially, without the need for IT assistance.

By Kevin Jervis – Chief Architect @ Ricston

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Kevin Jervis