Simplifying Application Integration

Applications integration (or enterprise application integration) is the sharing of processes and data among different applications in an enterprise. Application integration has become a mission-critical priority for both small organizations and large enterprises alike, because by connecting disparate applications it becomes possible to reap the benefits of application collaboration, such as increasing overall business efficiency, prepping for the future by enhancing scalability and most importantly, reducing IT costs.

In short, in our growing world of complexity, with ever larger, multi-component, often hybrid cloud environments, getting things to talk to each other and share resources isn't just a commonly faced challenge, but can be great for the bottom line.

There are quite a number of tools out there which aim to simplify the application integration process and figuring out which one to use can be difficult and costly. In this blog we look at two leading integration cloud offerings, Integration Cloud Service (ICS) from Oracle and MuleSoft CloudHub both in terms of a basic functionality overview and in terms of cost.

Oracle Integration Cloud Service

Integration Cloud Service (ICS) from Oracle is a super simple and quite powerful integration tool. It is part of the Oracle integration platform as a service (iPaaS) offering and enables the integration of SaaS to SaaS applications or SaaS applications to on-premise. It includes an intuitive, web based integration designer that enables simple point and click integration between applications, and an in-depth monitoring dashboard that provides real-time insight into the transactions, all while maximizing the benefits of the highly performant and mature runtime platform that is Oracle Cloud.

MuleSoft CloudHub Service

CloudHub is the platform as a service (iPaaS) component of Mule's Anypoint Platform. It provides a fully-managed, multi-tenanted, globally available, and secure cloud platform for a number of different integrations and APIs. Whether you want to connect applications, data, or devices with or within a cloud-based platform, be sure that MuleSoft can be able to do it and will have an adapter for it - even it might not always be so easy.

Main Advantages of Each System

When we think of MuleSoft we think of full compatibility and all integrations possible - yet this doesn't come without a tradeoff. While CloudHub has an incredibly large number of pre-built adapters for various web and mobile applications, legacy systems, and the IoT-driven industrial internet, it often requires a lot of coding and deep technical expertise to get it working optimally. That means it generally takes a little longer to set up and once it's up, our clients have required considerable assistance down the road to make customizations or configure the platform for new integrations. In this way, CloudHub could lead to a more fragile and error prone integration in the long run if the technical resources to understand and maintain it are not available.

On the other hand CloudHub has good security and compliance configurations straight out of the box (well as out of the box as it gets if you don't have a full-fledged developer team) and its inherent multi-tenancy for applications helps to improve workers' efficiency once its up. The granularity and diverse range of options continues with the configuration of control access which can be adapted to suit large corporations with complex organizational requirements. In short, CloudHub allows a lot of custom configuration and flexibility for specific adaptations, but is therefore the more complex and technically oriented tool in comparison to Oracle's ICS.

Oracle ICS is by far a more business-friendly solution. When we implement this Oracle Cloud service for our clients the job is relatively easy, as we are provided with simplified cloud, mobile, on-premises, and IoT integration capabilities, all within a single platform. This decreases time-to-integration, improves productivity, and provides additional tactical and strategic benefits. Some of these include faster time to market which not only lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) but increases business agility and profits - because getting things up and running quicker means our customers can start making revenues sooner. In other words, with CloudHub you can pop open the hood and tune your engine but this will take time - with ICS you can start driving the car straight off the bat.

While the two tools are quite similar in functionality and the integrations they offer, they do not overlap technically completely. From what we have seen in practice, there has been a shift away from classical custom-code approaches to enterprise application integration, toward more dynamic, easy to use business-focus solutions. Oracle ICS is at the top of our list because it offers a high-productivity approach with a large library of pre-built adapters and an intuitive visual designer that makes it simple for our clients to configure, manage and maintain once we are no longer on site. Not only that, but its quite a bit cheaper too.

Cost Comparison

In order to help our customers better understand the differences in cost of ownership (considering both the cost of the initial solution deployment and the long-term operational costs), we thought about 4 different categories of cost to compare briefly in this blog; namely subscription or license fees, setup, development, and management. All the beforementioned categories considered, our experience has shown that Oracle ICS is around 30% cheaper than CloudHub (TCO over 3 years) when used for some of our most common integration scenarios.

Subscription

Four of our most common integration use cases are integrating cloud to cloud applications in mult-cloud enterprise setups, connecting on-premise applications to partner or third party systems, integrating on-prem ERP systems with cloud based e-commerce platforms, and integrating on-prem CRM with cloud-based HR services. When we looked at our clients costs over the first 3 years after implementation, Oracle ICS beat the cost of CloudHub at every turn. Just the subscription cost alone of a MuleSoft CloudHub Professional Edition with standard 2 vCores or nodes cost $48,600USD per year, compared to $31,200USD for Oracle ICS run as a non-metered hosted connection with a total of four connections (two to on-prem and two cloud to cloud). While this has changed a bit since the introduction of Oracle Autonomous Integration Cloud, its predictable subscription fee model is a lot better and more predictable than that of MuleSoft's CloudHub with often comes with hidden costs.

Setup

Next we looked at the cost to set each service up. As already mentioned earlier, CloudHub is a lot more complex. When we setup Oracle ICS it rarely ever takes more than a few days of effort and one developer to do it. This is extremely quick and very simple in comparison to to Cloudhub, where the iPaaS setup and provisioning can take multiple experienced developers up to a week to complete. With Oracle's rapid setup design, and often nothing being needed to install for cloud to cloud applications, this meant that the cost for setting up Oracle ICS was often between 40% and up to 50% cheaper than with CloudHub. On a standard day rate for a junior developer for one day, versus for two, this could mean that the configuration of the integration adapters alone could cost anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000 depending on the tool being implemented.

Development

When we evaluated the cost of development between the two services we considered the development of integrations and new adapters, staging or moving integrations to testing environments, and the deployment of new integrations. As integration complexity can vary highly and be uniquely different between deployments, this is wheren the granularity and extensibility of CloudHub can be useful (and sometimes even needed). Developing new integrations with ICS took on average a few days whereas with MuleSoft sometimes a week and once even almost an entire month. This speed is given by ICS because staging only requires a simple change in a single configuration followed by an import of that configuration, and because REST APIs in ICS can help to automate deployments. While it enables access to source code and thus makes highly specific development possible, CloudHub took much longer to develop new integrations. In short this sometimes lead to ICS being up to 60% cheaper in terms of development than CloudHub.

Management

Finally, the cost of managing deployed integrations was significantly higher for CloudHub integrations than for deployments that used Oracle ICS. We considered the setup and configuration of the management environment, the changing of endpoints, the monitoring and management of performance and the maintenance of service-level agreements to be parts of management. These considered for one specific example where a client had to process exactly the same transformations with OICS and MuleSoft, OCIS only took an average of about 4 hours/week to manage integrations, whereas it took approximately 6 hours/week on CloudHub. This meant that even in the management category, our clients could reduce their costs by 50% if they opted for Oracle ICS rather than CloudHub.

Integration Cloud Service (ICS) and Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC).

New generation of Oracle’s ICS, now called Oracle Integration Cloud (OIC) (welcome to oracle ever confusing names!). This blog does not cover OIC in depth, but worth to mention that OIC includes several notable improvements from ICS including Visual Builder (Standard version) and Process Automation (Enterprise version).

Summary

In short, over the years Oracle Integration Cloud Service has not only proven to be highly effective and productive for all sorts of on-prem to cloud or cloud-to-cloud integrations, but has also been significantly cheaper in terms of total cost of ownership when compared to MuleSoft's CloudHub. While CloudHub offers a wide array of options for customization and tuning, significantly more experienced technical resources are needed to maintain and manage its integrations.

If you have any questions regarding either of the tools, want some help on an integration you are currently building, or simply want to discuss something in more detail, leave us a comment or a message below.

References:

  1. https://www.mulesoft.com/platform/saas/cloudhub-ipaas-cloud-based-integration
  2. https://cloud.oracle.com/en_US/opc/integration/faq
  3. https://www.mulesoft.com/resources/esb/applications-integration