To begin this article I first need to answer the following question.
What is the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform?
The platform has become a connected ecosystem of services. It provides market leading solutions to acquire, build loyalty and reduce friction in your interactions with customers, employees and partners.
The platform is like a cake. Each layer represents a Salesforce Cloud, or group of services, that provides capabilities to better serve your target audience.
If each layer represents a Salesforce Cloud and each layer collects data then how can I share data between layers without complex integration costs?
The cake analogy helps cover the first step in the integration story — connectors. Connectors are (mostly) free and provide the butterscotch cream that sticks the cake layers together. They use APIs described later in this article and provide a convenient layer of abstraction.
The connectors focus on use cases that drive specific outcomes.
Want to put a customer into a marketing journey when they abandon their shopping cart? — use a commerce cloud cartridge.
Want to send scored prospects browsing your website into Sales Cloud so they can be followed up as leads? — use the Pardot Connector
Want to sync data from Service Cloud into a fully managed, scalable, Postgres database? — use Heroku Connect.
Want to do something else? You’ll need an API.
Each layer of the Salesforce Platform offers differing services, for different use cases. This means each layer has different APIs. Let’s cover them at a high level.
Heroku enables developers to create custom applications, in the most popular programming languages, on fully managed infrastructure. Developers can quickly add Postgres, Redis and Kafka resources to meet their integration demands or select an add-on from the Elements marketplace.
Marketing Cloud facilitates the creation of personalised campaigns to engage with your customers across channels. It contains subscriber lists and provides APIs to import and export data and be able to interact with automations to support your integration use cases.
B2C Commerce Cloud
B2C Commerce Cloud enables customers to build digital commerce experiences. Importing and exporting data is a key component to be able to upload product catalogs and export orders for fulfilment. APIs have you covered.
So where does the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform fit it? Going back to the rainbow cake analogy it would be best to position MuleSoft not as a layer but as the icing over the top.
Large enterprises are looking at connecting many systems together - not just the rainbow cake of Salesforce - but other cloud and on-premise applications. They are looking for a solution that provides the most productive, scalable and secure way to deliver these event and service based APIs.
MuleSoft APIs are created by customers, using pre-built connectors from private and public marketplaces. They support complex integration patterns and provide routing and transformation capabilities.
Which is the right API for my solution?
Since most of the time you’ll be integrating with the transactional data sitting in the core services layer Trailhead have provided a handy framework for you to follow. Check it out here.
API Planning Framework for Architects
Design your solution with the right API using the API planning framework.
The Salesforce Platform is like a rainbow cake — with each layer being a Salesforce Cloud. Each customer can choose how many layers, or Clouds, they have.
Each layer has specific APIs to address the needs to interact with the services within the layer and customers can call into those services from an external system or callout from that layer.
For integration use cases involving complex routing and transformation some icing is needed on your rainbow cake in the form of MuleSoft. MuleSoft provides a reusable API design paradigm to create event and service based APIs to bridge many different systems.