The Mule is Kicking
· Earlier this week MuleSource, a startup enterprise service bus provider, made its public launch as "the open source choice for integration and SOA." MuleSource raised over $4 million in venture capital funding from Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Morgenthaler Ventures. MuleSource is headed by CEO Dave Rosenberg and CTO Ross Mason.
· We think this is an interesting company to watch since the ESB is the foundational layer for SOA and MuleSource has perhaps the most mature and widely adopted open source ESB. To date, Mule has more than 200k downloads, a community of over 500 developers, and is in production with over 100 organizations including several in the Fortune 50. In addition, the overall market being addressed by MuleSource is relatively big ($8.5B in software license and $132B in services according to Gartner), which should provide good opportunity for the company to grow.
· The early deployments of Mule have been for SOA and integration at the edge of the network. A few of the more advanced customers have progressed quickly and are now running the product as an enterprise backbone including a few transaction-heavy processing environments in the financial services market. The company hasn’t publicly disclosed any of its customers but we have heard good feedback about the product from many users. Mule’s business model is to offer subscription support contracts in a similar manner to other open source providers.
· Mule is designed to be open and agnostic with nearly all leading application servers, business process management tools, registry offerings, and standard security frameworks. One argument for open source SOA is that it can help solve some of the mundane and one-off architectural challenges for integrating niche applications and systems. The company has been pleased with the value-add from the community around developing new integration adapters. So far nearly 30% of the community is active in offering bug fixes and domain expertise around integration modules.
· One interesting trend to watch is the uptake of the SMuT stack (Spring, Mule, Tomcat) as an alternative to traditional application servers. Their positioning around the edge could siphon some business from the application server market and pop up as a potential alternative to other SOA offerings from JBoss (Red Hat), BEA’s Aqualogic, and TIBCO’s Matrix offerings. Mule is not positioned directly against incumbent messaging providers like TIBCO or IBM since it will take some time and proof points to validate their capabilities. Mule is still very in its lifecycle but should grow quickly given strong usage and product adoption. We don’t think this will disrupt business for the established players in the next year or so but it is an interesting seed that could alter the space in the longer term.