In the span of a few months, MuleSoft has gone from a lesser-known software company to the star of the show at Salesforce's (CRM) annual tech conference.

In March, Salesforce said it was acquiring MuleSoft for $6.5 billion, its largest-ever buyout deal. MuleSoft, which went public in 2017, builds technology to help businesses connect disparate apps and allow data sharing. And since the deal closed in May, the two companies have scrambled to rapidly integrate their products.

And as noted by Real Money's Kevin Curran, many investors were positive regarding the long-term value of the multi-billion-dollar acquisition -- but so far, it hasn't been straightforward to quantify.

On an August earnings call, Salesforce co-CEO Keith Block emphasized how critical the acquisition was to Salesforce's strategy: "You can't have a conversation right now with a customer without talking about MuleSoft," he said. That was apparent at Dreamforce on Wednesday, with MuleSoft's CEO Greg Schott playing dual roles: Presenting to attendees Salesforce's 'Integration Cloud', a recently-introduced toolbox aimed at integrating business processes; then jumping into a separate investor conference taking place to sell MuleSoft's vision to investors and analysts.

In a keynote, Schott explained MuleSoft's "Anypoint" platform, a dashboard for connecting apps and thereby making business and customer service transactions more efficient, that has been integrated into Salesforce's cloud suite since the deal closed in May.

"What people wind up building is this concept of an application network," Schott said of how the platform is used by businesses.

An application network isn't something most people could easily define, but it's a concept that's central to MuleSoft's story -- and now to Salesforce's story as well.

"The average enterprise has 1,100 apps," he told investors at a conference happening adjacent to Dreamforce, calling it the "'bring your own app to work" problem, plus all the legacy, mainframes, everything carried over from Oracle (ORCL) and SAP (SAP) ." What MuleSoft does is eliminate the need to write laborious and unstable custom code connecting those apps, he explained, and uses APIs which are a more lightweight solution than many existing integration services.

MuleSoft execs acknowledged that the concept hasn't entered the mainstream, even among CIOs: "If you go talk to most CIOs today they will not use the term application network," he said, but that they are increasingly adopted at banks and other large enterprises. (At Schott's keynote, Unilever (UL) CIO Jane Moran joined him onstage to describe the benefits of building one.)

Part of the pitch was also to paint a picture of how effectively the companies are working together -- and to reiterate what role the deal will play in Salesforce's future.

"When [Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff] and I met back in February...he said we're starting to see digital transformation as an industry, and I said that we see ourselves as the engine of that industry," Schott said. "Putting the companies together felt like a really amazing strategic fit." 

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