API technology is more valuable now than ever before. As many organizations still use legacy systems in tandem with more modern solutions, APIs serve as a connection between the two, while also connecting modern systems to other modern systems. Essentially, it's difficult to connect to disparate pieces of technology without APIs, no matter how old or new those systems are.
As API technology continues to develop and gain traction, there are two types of API companies experiencing success—those with vertical and horizontal platforms—each offering a different level of connectivity and expertise.
Vertical vs. Horizontal APIs
MuleSoft is a horizontal API platform. They connect technological systems—Saas, IoT, microservices, etc.—via APIs. They span multiple industries, and can connect some fairly distantly related systems to one another. It's an important methodology for solutions in the right context, but it lacks the direct expertise of a vertical solution.
project44 is a vertical API platform, meaning our APIs are specifically designed to function with trucking and logistics technology. We have entire teams devoted to engineering, development, and support of APIs specific to this industry. Supply chain technology is our main focus, and that results in a more refined product, consistent and thorough support, and a commitment to constant innovation and improvement of our solutions.
MuleSoft's Horizontal API platform with project44's Vertical API platform The Market has a Place for Both Vertical and
When Salesforce acquired MuleSoft for $6.5 billion, it turned a lot of heads. Many people thought the price was too hefty, while some just couldn't quite place the strategic value. The thing is, Salesforce still integrates into a lot of legacy systems. Those systems house valuable data, but they're too archaic for Salesforce to effectively harvest that data without the help of modern API solutions. By acquiring MuleSoft, they're acquiring a company with a wealth of APIs and integration expertise. What they're not getting, however, are APIs specifically designed to function within a certain vertical.
That's where the additional value of a vertical API platform can really benefit a company like MuleSoft—such a provider can share their expertise, and give MuleSoft access to a wealth of existing integrations and data. If a vertical API platform has already integrated several systems across its vertical, the hard work is already done—all a horizontal platform like MuleSoft needs to do is integrate that vertical solution, then they have access to several systems that would have cost them valuable time and resources to integrate with on their own.
For example, project44's APIs transfer data between things like carries, shippers, transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, 3PLs, and more. These are all different systems across the trucking and logistics vertical, and they require a wealth of domain knowledge in order to build and implement in a useful way. Much of the data transferred via p44 could be useful if integrated with, say, a CRM like Salesforce. MuleSoft integrating with project44 would provide access to that data, and create even more visibility for both sides.
The Transportation Vertical
The transportation and logistics industry is in the midst of a massive upgrade cycle. There are still quite a few legacy systems being used to transfer data across the supply chain, and even while many of them are being replaced with modern technology, the number of disparate systems is causing valuable data to be siloed. That's a big part of why logistics APIs are becoming the standard method of connectivity. The logistics vertical relies heavily on domain expertise to connect these systems and normalize the data across them.
That said, much of this data is valuable beyond the supply chain. The vertical API platforms that have the supply chain and logistics domain knowledge are perfect for transfering that data to horizontal API platforms so that they can ensure everyone who needs it gets it.
The API economy is still figuring itself out. Middleware has become a crucial aspect of modern technology, especially where sharing information and gaining visibility is concerned. As companies like Salesforce continue making huge investments into APIs, it is becoming increasingly clear that horizontal and vertical platforms have a lot to offer.