MuleSource targets open source ESB users

A US$4 million startup based on the Mule open source integration project enters the market on Tuesday

A startup built around the Mule open source integration project is set to make its corporate debut Tuesday. MuleSource is backed by US$4 million secured in a first round of venture funding it closed this past summer.

The creator of Mule, Ross Mason, is the company's CTO. Mason conceived Mule in 2003 as an alternative to unwieldy integration platforms that he found required specialized skills and overly repetitive work. "The idea of Mule really was to simplify this, take away all of that donkey work from the developer, and let the developer concentrate on building core business functionality," he says.

Mason designed Mule so that developers with basic Java skills can tackle integration. It can be used for straightforward projects, such as connecting two endpoints, or in a more advanced middleware role as an enterprise service bus (ESB) in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) environment. Its functions include message delivery, message transformations, pooling and threading of components, exception handling and transaction management. The Mule framework can be hosted by any Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition application server, or users can install it independently.

Mule has been downloaded 200,000 times since its 1.0 release in 2005, and more than 100 enterprises are using it in large-scale production environments, says Dave Rosenberg, CEO and co-founder of MuleSource. Rosenberg is a former CIO for investment research and advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. He also served as principal analyst for Open Source Development Labs.

MuleSource will provide subscription support, priced per server, for Mule with a license based on the Mozilla Public License . Support subscriptions include patches, bug fixes, maintenance, problem resolution and developer assistance, including configuration, performance and tuning advice.

In addition, MuleSource on Tuesday is releasing version 1.3 of Mule, which can be downloaded for free at the Mule project homepage.

New features built into Mule 1.3 include performance upgrades such as faster HTTP transport, Java Message Service session-caching upgrades and metadata handling optimization. With the 1.3 release, Mule services can invoke, or be invoked by, Spring remoting services. Also built into Mule 1.3 is a new HiveMind container that lets developers obtain objects from a HiveMind registry to use as service components or to configure the Mule server. (Spring and HiveMind are application frameworks for enterprise Java development.)

"Typically, when you turn to a proprietary vendor for integration, they try to push a complex SOA/ESB/WS-* stack at you that costs big money and is tremendously complex," said Jin Chun, chief applications architect of State Street Bank's Global Link electronic network, in a statement. "The beauty of Mule and the open source approach to integration is that it allows you to simply get hooks in and out of systems for data transformation, and to do the integration you need, without forcing you down an expensive vendor lock-in path."

MuleSource is backed by Hummer Winblad Venture Partners and Morgenthaler Ventures. Its competitors in the integration and ESB market include platform vendors such as BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle; specialists such as Cape Clear Software, Fiorano Software, Progress Software and SOA Software ; and open source options such as Apache ServiceMix, ObjectWeb and Red Hat division JBoss .