Integration software provider Mulesoft is updating its API (application programming interface) management suite, Anypoint, with new features designed to allow enterprise customers to securely create, manage and orchestrate the deployment of APIs across any computing environment, on premises or in the cloud.
The vendor has also announced a partnership with IBM that calls for extending Mulesoft's Anypoint Runtime Fabric container service to run on Red Hat OpenShift. Mulesoft, which was acquired by Salesforce for $6.5 billion in 2018, claims that the latest updates will allow enterprises to work with APIs of any origin, in any architecture or environment.
Controlling API "sprawl"
The new Anypoint capabilities, according to the Mulesoft, are targeted at controlling and curbing API "sprawl" for enterprises and easing complications for application governance and security for IT departments.
The rise in demand for fast, interactive applications and the proliferation of customer data have necessitated the use of a hybrid mix of ecosystems and software that complicates the IT landscape, giving rise to API sprawl, Mulesoft said.
A joint study by the company and Deloitte shows that enterprises end up using, on average, more than 800 applications yearly. The list of new AnyPoint features includes an API Flex Gateway, API Governance, API Designer, and an updated API Manager.
While the new Flex Gateway feature is designed to allow enterprises to run and manage APIs across any architecture or environment securely, the updated API Manager provides developers and IT managers the option to manage users and services from a single control point. The API Manager service is also expected to help developers improve the reliability of their APIs with contextual insights, the company said.
Support for devops
The new capabilities have the potential to support collaborative devops application development practices. Flex Gateway and the updated API Manager seem to be aimed at making Mulesoft’s Anypoint platform more accessible to a new category of users and environments, said Doug Henschen, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.
“The Flex Gateway sounds like a more architecture-agnostic, ‘lightweight’ alternative aimed at opening up API management to more development environments and non-hardcore developers. EmergingiPaaS (integration platform as a service) and cloud competitors are making API management more accessible, so Flex Gateway could be aimed at making Anypoint more accessible to a broader base of environments and user types,” Henschen said.
The new API Governance feature, meanwhile, is aimed at allowing enterprises to centrally define policies and rules across all APIs, at scale.
API Designer, on its part, is designed to let developers model APIs for any specification and purpose — microservices, event-driven, or otherwise.
The Designer also can be used with an updated Anypoint Exchange feature that allows developers to catalog, discover and reuse API specifications built on any platform in Exchange, using the new API CLI (command line interface) catalog, currently in beta, the company said. It added that a new service called API Experience Hub will also soon be made available, and will allow enterprises to build developer portals in minutes using templates to publish APIs from Exchange.
“The API Designer is filling the important need to discover APIs out in the wild and then duplicate or improve on them while also serving the need to create APIs from scratch in the language of your choice,” Henschen said.
Competition heats up for API management
Mulesoft’s rivals include the likes of Boomi, Informatica and Jitterbit, as well as iPaaS vendors that are updating their API capabilities, including SnapLogic, Workato and Tray.io. Mulesoft also faces stiff competition from cloud service providers, Henschen said.
“Cloud vendors are also adding API publishing and management services, with Google Cloud, for example, having acquired Apigee and other cloud vendors adding services organically,” the analyst said.
The company is expected to make Anypoint Flex Gateway, API Experience Hub and the API Governance service generally in the first quarter of 2022. The updated API Manager is already available.
Updated container service to run on OpenShift
In addition to the new API management capabilities, Mulesoft also announced a new partnership with IBM this week under which the company will extend its container service for multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, Anypoint Runtime Fabric, to IBM’s Z family of products (Z architecture-based mainframe computers) targeted toward financial institutions.
The integration of the container service with OpenShift will allow enterprises to automate the deployment of APIs across public and private clouds, the company said, adding that the integration will also complement IBM’s Z Digital Integration Hub by allowing enterprises to securely share information stored in the Z Digital Integration Hub via reusable APIs and deploy the information to external applications with a few clicks.
While Mulesoft’s strategy behind the partnership seems pointed toward an effort to reach more customers, IBM’s strategy seems more tethered to offering convenience.
“IBM has a vast customer base with really big workloads. The opportunity to work more closely with those customers has obvious appeal,” Henschen said. “The smaller vendors don’t tend to win these partnerships unless they’re in a position to fill an important technology gap with a popular, best-of-breed cloud service provider.
"MuleSoft certainly fits the bill, and many IBM/Red Hat customers are likely already using MuleSoft. Adding integrations and expertise is good for both the partners and their customers."
Henschen also said that there’s a huge demand to bring workloads into the cloud, and companies using IBM Z certainly have high-scale workloads that would benefit from the joint integration and containerisation options promised through the partnership.
The partnership will also see IBM increase its investment to more than double the number of MuleSoft-certified professionals in its customer organisations so that they can take full advantage of all the new integrations.