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Best Practices for a Successful MuleSoft 4 Migration

At this point, migrating to MuleSoft 4 isn’t a question of “if.” It is a question of “when.” To stay supported, in terms of the MuleSoft platform itself and the MuleSoft community as a whole, it is time to migrate to Mule 4.

As previously mentioned, the move from Mule 3 to Mule 4 isn’t just an upgrade. It’s a complete re-platforming. Because of that, it must be approached differently than a shift to a new version. It also means that it’s easy to fall into some significant missteps.

Five of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen so far are:

5. Ignoring SLAs;

4. Ignoring integrations and their downstream impacts;

3. Leaving manual processes in place when they can be automated;

2. Taking a casual approach to the migration;

And the number one biggest mistake? Failing to plan for the migration. In our experience, planning is the most important element for the move.

Mule 4 is a significant shift from Mule 3, and your migration is the ideal time to review some of your existing practices and procedures against the Mule 4 system as part of your plan. Now may be the time to consider improvements to your DevOps strategy, especially pertaining to CI/CD or updates to your security. You may also need to re-engineer some of your existing APIs or re-evaluate your testing and deployment processes

The best way to evaluate these areas and answer questions is through planning. And the steps to planning should include the following four best practices.

Set Your Environment

Unless you’re planning to do a hard cutover from Mule 3 to Mule 4, you’ll likely have some overlap in your environment setup during the migration. Talk to your MuleSoft rep about your plan and how it impacts your usage.

For instance, you’ll need to ensure that you’ve reviewed how your migration impacts your existing license agreement. Some MuleSoft components may have been deprecated, and there may be new components in Mule 4 that you’ll want to leverage. If you will be running the two platforms simultaneously, your MuleSoft rep may be able to help you manage costs for having multiple versions running at once.

Parallel deployment is an option for your migration, and hybrid deployments can be part of your planning. You need to consider if you can host both Mule versions on your existing infrastructure or if you may need to segregate your Mule environments.

MuleSoft’s guide, “Mule 3 to Mule 4 Cheat Sheet,” can be an invaluable source of information as you plan your migration. This guide takes a technical deep dive into the concepts associated with Mule 4, as well as the programming and new features that may impact your migration.

Investigate the MuleSoft Migration Assistant (MMA)

In anticipation of their customer’s migration to Mule 4, MuleSoft developed a tool called the MuleSoft Migration Assistant (MMA). This tool can be handy in helping you get your Mule 3 apps ported for your new Mule 4 environment.

There are a few caveats to be aware of with the MMA. First, the MMA is just an assistant, not an “Easy Button” to app refactoring. It may only work with your simplest Mule 3 apps.

Also, there have been multiple versions of the MMA since migrations to the new platform began. The latest version is the one supported by MuleSoft and was released in the summer of 2020. The good news here is that if you tried using a previous version of the MMA and it didn’t work, the new and improved version might. Give it another try, even if you’ve attempted to use an earlier version.

Migrate in Functional Groups

As you prepare to migrate your APIs, grouping similar APIs together will simplify development and ensure you have your foundations in place before you move to other apps.

Start with your common APIs, like those associated with logging and infrastructure. Depending on your runtime deployment platform and subscription level, you may be able to leverage the new Anypoint Monitoring logging feature.  Otherwise, you may want to consider sending your logging information to Splunk or the ELK stack.  See this article for logging best practices.

Next, move on to domain-based migration. Logical groupings that perform common business functions - like APIs that handle customer data or those that update account information - should be migrated together.

Lastly, if you are developing new projects, do not develop them on Mule 3. You’ll just be creating additional technical debt for yourself. If you haven’t already, start building all new apps on Mule 4.

Review New Features

We certainly don’t mean to beat this point to death, but migrating to Mule 4 from Mule 3 is a re-platforming exercise.. While that brings challenges, it also means there are new features that you should review as part of the process.

For instance, Anypoint Monitoring, initially introduced in 2018, has significantly changed from its previous version. The new version includes updated dashboard features, supports on-prem, hybrid, and CloudHub apps, and the ability to create alerts for app and server metrics.

Among the new tools available in Mule 4 is Visualizer. This fantastic new tool lets you visualize the path of APIs from experience through process and system.

If the out-of-the-box API Management policies aren’t exactly what you need, you can now create Custom API Management policies. Along with this, the Mule 3 Anypoint Enterprise Security Module (AES) has been split into different modules. You will need to review this fragmentation's impact on how it affects your migration to Mule 4.

Probably one of the most significant feature changes is the move from DevKit to SDK. Connectors that were previously built in DevKit will need to be converted for Mule 4. Analogous to the MMA, but separate from it, there is a DevKit Migration Tool (DMT) available to help you re-factor your custom Connectors to run in the Mule 4 environment.

Improve Your CI/CD

Another updated feature in Mule 4 that DevOps teams will be pleased to hear is the improved support for Maven. With expanded support for Maven, DevOps teams should now look closely at automating their API build and deployment processes to their lower environments.

We understand the “Continuous Deployment” definition of “CD” may not apply to your enterprise. Still, the benefits of an automated CI/CD process for non-prod environments is worth the design and planning time to implement.

Following the best practices above, along with the planning steps from our previous Mule 4 migration article, you’ll be in great shape to mitigate most of the challenges of migrating from Mule 3 to Mule 4. However, many organizations have other challenges in this move - they simply can’t afford to pull developers from existing projects to complete the migration or don’t have the workforce to plan and execute the move effectively.

If that’s the case, remember that Big Compass can help with your Mule 4 migration. Migration is a great time to bring in extra resources to help out since a migration is a temporary project. Plus, engaging a team experienced with completing Mule 4 migrations, like Big Compass is, will save you time and help prevent costly mistakes. Contact us if you’d like more information on how we can help you complete the move from Mule 3 to Mule 4.

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