Laura Merling, SVP, Application Enablement
Today we announced the launch of the API Lifecycle Methodology, a new application programming interface (API) consulting and professional services practice and an associated methodology.
This announcement comes on the heels of several projects with our customers ranging from detailed competitive analysis across the API landscape to architecture and design work, as well as API performance optimization. We have taken the best practices across telecommunications and merged them with the lessons learned from the global API ecosystem to create an offering that allows communications service providers to identify new revenue opportunities and deliver new services to market faster.
The new consulting and professional services practice is built on the back of our uniquely qualified and experienced team of veterans in API implementation, strategy and operations, as well as the key lessons learned and best practices gleaned from our engagements over the past years.
Coupled with the API Lifecycle Methodology – which we have licensed under Creative Commons and made freely available to the larger API community - the new practice is designed to address the challenges developers, internal or external, face when integrating APIs and to help optimize an API program for success.
APIs are no longer new to the telecommunications industry, but their true potential as a game-changer remains untapped. Operators are looking to APIs as a strategic means of internal innovation, shortening time-to-market and lowering costs for delivering new services while identifying new revenue streams in the process. With application providers having seized the end-user experience, now is the time for operators to redefine and reinvigorate their role in the value chain.
When thinking about APIs, the most important thing to remember is that they are not a technology for squeezing revenue out of existing business models. They engender new ones. No company gets it right all the time, but the most successful of them are continuously improving their API ecosystems.
APIs are the glue that ties together all the elements of the data economy – apps, the cloud and big data. But launching and supporting a dynamic API strategy is not easy – these programs need to be monitored, nurtured and directed as they evolve over time.
A quick scan of recent related media coverage reveals a wealth of stories about the challenges developers have faced with using third party APIs, regardless of whether they are cloud infrastructure providers or Social Networking sites. From scalability, to business models, to the deprecation (end of life) of an API – it is evident that a clear, concise framework is needed across industries to change the way businesses think about APIs and to define a set of best practices.
We are committed to the betterment of the community and to fundamentally shifting the way operators and enterprises view the ecosystem. As a result, we have licensed the API Lifecycle Methodology under Creative Commons. What does this mean? This means, we have essentially “open-sourced” the methodology – we have released it into the wild and opened it up for scrutiny, feedback and reuse. If we truly want this methodology to gain traction among all stakeholders in the API ecosystem, open-sourcing it is our only option. This move (arguably unprecedented in the telecom industry) showcases our commitment to open collaboration to drive the success of our customers.
The trailblazing in other industries has already been done, and it has become clear that winning with APIs is about building a repeatable process and structure just as you would for any other part of your business. There are a vast number of processes to implement and best practices to put in place. However, at the simplest level there are three key phases to consider when building out an API program: definition, design and deployment. These three phases can be performed regardless of using our software (OAP), and create an opportunity to sell in our products and services. Here’s a quick breakdown of each phase:
PHASE ONE: DEFINITION
This phase is focused on API strategy and prioritization. Establishing the correct business objectives to drive your API strategy requires a comprehensive understanding of your network assets, competitor capabilities and existing ecosystems. From there you identify the service(s) to be created; select the business model(s) to implement; define the value proposition to the ecosystem; and finally document a baseline for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
PHASE TWO: DESIGN
Design is vitally important. How developers inside or outside your company access your business will play a critical role in its success. Thoughtful, deliberate API design, including simplification of complex services and sample code is critical to the long-term success of your program.
PHASE THREE: DEPLOYMENT
The rigor applied to the business planning applies in the deployment phase as well. This phase is focused on operations and optimization. The service(s) created in the Design phase are now deployed and undergo continuous analysis and improvement. Systems integration, testing and production deployment are at the front end, while performance optimization and deprecation planning are critical as your program matures.
In parallel we have componentized our product offering, the Open API Platform, to be able to address the needs of our customers in support of the API Lifecycle Methodology. For example, in the Design phase, there may be a need to create complex services, which require customers keep track of status or data throughout the transaction. To support this, the customer may leverage the Service Composition Framework. In the Definition stage, the customer will be evaluating business models across their user base and will need a product that supports flexibility in pricing. The Business Management Engine supports not only industry standard models, but also the ability to define unique billing units.
We are very excited to announce our expanded AE portfolio along with our new API Lifecycle Methodology. Leveraging these new assets, we can continue to lead carriers in creating an effective end-to-end strategy, while also establishing a repeatable process that maximizes efficiency, cost-savings, and revenue.
To read more about Alcatel-Lucent’s new API Lifecycle Methodology, please click here, and the press release announcing the practice can be read here.