In its latest move to bring together the telecom and Web 2.0 worlds to create a larger ecosystem, Alcatel-Lucent (News
) today announced its acquisition of ProgrammableWeb. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Five-year-old ProgrammableWeb has created a repository of all the important Web APIs - more than 2,000 of them. The company, whose resources are used by hundreds of thousands of developers, will continue to operate as a separate entity; however, Alcatel-Lucent plans to pull those APIs into its Open API Service and Developer Platform in an effort to help accelerate developer activities related to its service provider customers, says Laura Merling, ALU's vice president of global development strategy.
"If you look at any organization that launches an API, you quickly realize that the one thing the
most successful APIs have in common is a vibrant developer ecosystem," says Merling. "Our goal is to protect the uniqueness and independence of ProgrammableWeb as an API repository and developer resource, while adding beneficial technologies and service provider relationships to the mix for everyone's benefit."
This move advances Alcatel-Lucent's Application Enablement strategy, about which TMCnet has written in the past
line with that strategy, Alcatel-Lucent in December unveiled trio of new offers aimed at helping network operators and developers more easily enable and create new applications
that are manageable, reliable, scalable and secure. The trio includes the Application Exposure Suite, the Open API Service and Transformation Services.
The Application Exposure Suite allows service providers and enterprises to accelerate application innovation
by outfitting them with a simple way to expose various APIs to the developer community. The idea behind the suite is to enable service providers to monetize their capabilities
by allowing developers to access and use functionalities such as billing, location or connection optimization in their applications. The suite allows for the composition of and normalization related to various APIs. For example, APIs can be created around things like certain legacy interfaces in the network, and interface definitions within various standards, as just two examples. There are also systems management and reporting components included in the suite to allow for end-to-end visibility into application performance, user experience and resource use.
Alcatel-Lucent's Open API Service, meanwhile, is being sold primarily to application developers, which can use the service's Web-based portal at http://developer.openapiservice.com
to access network enablers such as SMS, location and more. The benefit to service provider partners, according to Alcatel-Lucent, is that the Open API Service eliminates the expense of registering, provisioning and supporting multiple developers. Sprint (News
) was the first user of this solution, which it employed to expose location and geofencing capabilities.
Transformation Services are a collection of professional services around integration of multivendor networks and applications; migration to IP-based networks
; and the automation of processes.
As also previously reported by TMCnet, following that news in December the company in February announced cloud-based efforts
to open carrier APIs to application folks, as well as to outfit these software types with tools to test and distribute their wares.
Merling at the time told TMCnet that the cloud-based initiative took its previously announced efforts to the next level by not only exposing APIs, but also providing an end-to-end ecosystem through which developers can build, test, manage and distribute their applications.
That includes developer tools, available through the cloud, that provide an abstraction layer to enable applications to run on any device; support for debugging; and more. It also includes a "sandbox in the sky" that allows developers to test their applications at scale. A developer dashboard, meanwhile, allows developers to track traffic on their applications, look at what other developers are charging for their apps, and more. The management piece Merling mentions has to do with exposing APIs; she says it enables carriers to expose APIs securely, and in a rate limiting way so they don't bring down the network. From a distribution standpoint, Alcatel-Lucent offers a platform on which developers can load applications, and those applications can be tested as well as made available to interested parties.
"So it works both ways, it's a push and a pull," Merling explained back in February.
The ecosystem is paid for by those carriers that wish to expose their APIs, says Merling. She notes that's an important change from the current model in which developers typically have to prepay something like $8,000 to $10,000 a month for access to particular network resources, like SMS. This way, she says, it's a pure revenue share model in which only the service provider assumes risk, but in which the service provider also has a lot to gain.
She adds that in this model developers also get a lot of added value given that they are offered bundles of APIs for specific verticals.
The first version of this SaaS (News
)-based ecosystem is Alcatel-Lucent branded. Longer term, the goal is to give service providers the dashboard to offer as part of their developer programs.
Merling in February noted that while the developer community is clearly the target of the cloud-based ecosystem initiative, it would also make sense for over-the-top service providers as well as enterprise network operators to get in on the action. For example, she says, Netflix might want to take advantage of a carrier's API to ensure QoS for a video-on-demand service. Conversely, she says, enterprise network operators might want to open their networks with APIs to enable new capabilities on their networks. In fact, she says, enterprises such as Best Buy, the BBC and Tesco are already opening their networks in efforts to drive customer engagement and otherwise meet their business objectives.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi