What it means to have Anypoint Platform as your backbone with Composer and Servicetrace at the edge for large enterprises
Authored by Mark Janzen and Mitesh Patwari
We are in a fast-paced environment. Competition is huge, innovation is at its peak, and customer expectations are soaring. This creates many challenges for large enterprises made up of several lines of business and thousands of employees. These large enterprises are consistently operating hundreds of applications to access data from disparate systems and as they grow, they create more data silos. On average, organizations are using 1,020 individual applications across their business.
To be successful and keep ahead of rising demands, organizations need a platform that allows them to:
- Seamlessly onboard new channels, partners, and devices.
- Provide their employees and customers with easy access to all kinds of data from the user interfaces and systems that they work with.
MuleSoft Anypoint Platform is the solution.
Anypoint Platform is a unified, highly productive, hybrid integration platform that helps organizations create reusable integrations when they connect their applications, data, and devices.
Anypoint Platform lets companies:
- Build their application network with pluggable assets.
- Manage the complete software development life cycles of these connections through a single platform.
- Transform themselves into a composable enterprise.
- Enable Central IT, LoB IT, and App Dev teams to produce assets faster.
- Support the modern API-led approach that promotes consumption of produced assets, driving self-service and re-use.
- Keep up with new digital trends and growing demands.
Anypoint Platform solves a lot of integration challenges by allowing developers to deliver projects faster, but still relies on the availability of IT teams. Usually, these IT teams are busy with large and complex enterprise-wide digital transformation initiatives. Meanwhile, business users or admins who don’t have coding skills still need the help of IT to solve their integration and automation needs.
MuleSoft studies show that roughly 54% of line of business users are frustrated with the challenge to stitch disparate systems together because of this IT dependency. They want a low-code platform that can allow them to automate these processes with access to data without the need to code.
Currently, when a knowledge worker wants to automate a process, extracting reports from Salesforce or copying data from Salesforce to NetSuite, they have to reach out to IT to build an automation. Since IT is usually busy with high-priority developments, the knowledge worker’s need might land in the lowest priority bucket and will have to operate with manual tasks until their need is handled. With Composer, they can meet this automation goal on their own or with the help of a system administrator.
MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce:
MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce is a new offering from Salesforce and MuleSoft, released in March of 2021, that quickly and easily connects apps and data to Salesforce.
Composer enables non-developers to create integrations from within Salesforce through a guided experience, using clicks rather than code.
It allows knowledge workers in lines of business to jumpstart projects in just four steps, with a library of pre-built connectors like Salesforce, Workday, Slack, Google Sheets, NetSuite and Tableau. It provides a real-time data preview to verify the data they’re gathering along the way.
Connectors are quickly being added. At launch in March, Composer had connectors to 6 systems, and as of August this has already expanded to 14 systems! Salesforce’s commitment to the platform is evident by the rapid increase in connectors.
Composer is built on the foundation of Anypoint Platform, sharing the same enterprise-grade collaboration, runtime, monitoring, security, and governance capabilities.
It gets added to your Salesforce Organization through the same support and sales channels as other optional features of the Salesforce and Force.com platform. These include: the Salesforce Partner Portal, Salesforce Support Portal, or your Salesforce Customer Success and Account Teams.
Licensing is on a per org basis and Salesforce provides a starter and a more advanced option.
The product drives speed, agility, and efficiency by empowering business admins to innovate, automate, and streamline time-consuming, manual, error-prone operations without waiting for development team availability. However, it doesn’t eliminate the development team altogether.
When Composer is compared to the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, there’s a lot of confusion specifically on how these should be used independently and how they work together.
This is how Composer and Anypoint Platform are different.
- Composer is best suited for small to medium Salesforce enterprises with minimal to no IT support, who want to operate efficiently by automating manual processes involving swivel chairing between systems for which Composer has pre-built connectors.
- It could be a good tool for Salesforce admins, who do not need to dive deep into data transformation but understand the order and timing of when data flows between systems.
Composer transfers data from one system to another when either an event occurs, or at a scheduled time. For example, a closed Sales Opportunity could be sent via Slack to notify a support team that an order should be entered in an ERP. A more sophisticated example would be to use Composer to directly enter the order in NetSuite.
The first example is very viable. However, the second is less so since Composer cannot transform the Salesforce data to match Netsuite’s data formats. Because of this NetSuite would reject the attempt to create an order. Additionally, Composer’s Error and Exception handling are very limited, and would require a person to monitor the flow and resolve any errors manually.
For large enterprises, Composer can make life easier for business admins and solve less complex problems.
IT and Business need to come together.
Like IT and Business, Composer and Anypoint Platform are also better together.
Composer helps IT scale by offloading small manual lines of business specific automation needs from IT’s backlog allowing them to focus on organization-wide complex initiatives. It supports integrating cloud-only applications through pre-configured connectors and Composer flows are not reusable.
Large organizations on the other hand are made up of many types of systems and require complex custom integrations which can be efficiently created, discovered, and re-used when built using the Anypoint Platform.
Composer is like a tool in your personal toolkit, using it you can fix some odd things in your house and you won’t have to call or wait for the technical help to arrive. But you can’t build the entire house with this tool. That requires core architects, more skilled builders, and a whole different set of specialized tools that require training to operate.
Let’s look at an example where Composer and Anypoint Platform can work together to solve a single business problem.
Pattern for Composer to work with Anypoint (Use a Custom Object in Salesforce)
Use Case: When an opportunity is closed in Salesforce, several details need to be collected and sent to NetSuite to kick-off the order in NetSuite. This process needs to be robust and reliable, meaning that it needs to consider occasional network or system outages and slowdowns.
We can divide this problem into two parts.
- Configuring the event source and making the data available from Salesforce
- Grab the data, apply complex transformation, push data to NetSuite putting necessary resilience controls in place
The Salesforce user who is on the edge of this flow, understands the event and knows how to fetch the other fields necessary for NetSuite.
They work on the first part of the solution leveraging Salesforce and Composer.
The Salesforce user can create a custom object in Salesforce, with all fields required for NetSuite.
They use Composer to create a flow, with Opportunity closing in Salesforce as the trigger, and creating the Salesforce Custom Object record as target action, after collecting the necessary details via GET calls to other Salesforce objects.
The Salesforce user then works with the IT team to have the second part of the business process enabled leveraging Anypoint Platform.
The development team creates a Mule application in Anypoint Platform that subscribes to events from the Custom Object enabled in part 1.
They use the power of Anypoint Platform’s Mapper and Dataweave to transform the data to a form that NetSuite will work with.
They establish a call with NetSuite through an out of the box NetSuite Connector, implementing relevant error handling strategy to ensure that the data gets successfully sent to NetSuite.
In the future, when Composer adds the ability for flows to make REST API calls, these two parts can have a more direct connection. Instead of creating a custom object via Composer, Salesforce admins can directly call a REST API, exposed via Anypoint Platform that takes care of the second part of the above solution.
After the Salesforce user and the MuleSoft developers had Orders being created in NetSuite, the next goal was to automate the sending of customer surveys. This process involves the Salesforce user signing into an internal website, entering some high-level customer data and selecting a date and time for the survey to be sent out. These surveys are also triggered when an opportunity closes so it seemed like an obvious next thing to tackle with Composer and Anypoint.
However, the system that sends out the survey is a custom developed internal website that is over 15 years old. Composer is designed to work with common SaaS solutions, so it was not a viable technical tool for this use case and, more problematically, after looking at the details of the Survey system the only way to reliably get a survey sent out is to enter the data though the web interface. The database for the system was not accessible and the system had no APIs or Services. This is a common situation and is the reason Robotic Process Automation software exists.
In September 2021, Salesforce closed its acquisition of Servicetrace, a leading provider of robotic process automation (RPA), which has now become a part of MuleSoft.
MuleSoft RPA will complement Composer and Anypoint by automating repetitive and manual tasks with reusable, personalized bots, allowing individuals to achieve end-to-end automation.
Servicetrace can automate repetitive tasks, such as interpreting documents, performing data entry, or extracting information from a PDF attachment and entering it into another app. This is done by creating bots that automate repetitive tasks that workers perform manually.
In this case a MuleSoft RPA bot would pull contact and deal information from Salesforce through its UI and enter it into the survey request website’s user interface.
Composer at the edge allowed the Salesforce User to handle event subscription and data selection leveraging their business knowledge.
Anypoint Platform as the backend allowed the MuleSoft Developer to handle complex data transformation, error handling, security, ensuring that data updates occur even if NetSuite is down or unresponsive at the time.
MuleSoft RPA can be combined with Composer and Anypoint to augment their capabilities to interact with systems that otherwise do not allow systematic connectivity.
To conclude, with Composer, Anypoint Platform, and now MuleSoft’s RPA solution, organizations can deliver on the emerging need for hyper automation that requires the combination of integration, API management, and automation to scale and increase the speed of work.
Slalom can help you get started with the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, Composer and Servicetrace
Slalom is a global consulting firm focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation. In 42 markets around the world, Slalom’s teams have autonomy to move fast and do what’s right. They are backed by regional innovation hubs, a global culture of collaboration, and partnerships with the world’s top technology providers. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Seattle, Slalom has organically grown to over 9,500 employees. Slalom has been named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For six years running and is regularly recognized by employees as a best place to work. Learn more at slalom.com.
We have completed over 80 MuleSoft projects and specialize in helping customers digitally transform by implementing Salesforce, Composer for Salesforce, and MuleSoft Anypoint Platform. Our clients enjoy high levels of API reuse through the use of API-Led and Domain Driven API Design. If you would like to talk to us about Application Integration, Business Process Management, or Robotic Process Automation please reach out to Mark Janzen, Mitesh Patwari, or contact us through this link.