The role of the API has been defined as so central to the Platform Business Model that the two have become synonomous, a Platform model is an API business.
Businesses like Starbucks set out to exploit the idea of the 'Configurable Enterprise', or Composable Enterprise, an enterprise architecture and IT platform so flexible that new customer interfaces can easily be developed and extended into new digital markets, such as tapping office workers as they exchange email, or further exploiting the social graphs of fans and customers through encouraging viral referals such as Tweet gift purchases.
These types of innovations require a holistic enterprise approach, and APIs are pivotal to the joining up required - Customers redeeming coupons at the Point of Sale via their mobile phone for example requires this retail tie-in from the social/mobile activity, and this is also the opportunity too, each of these interactions presenting an opportunity to continually deepen this relationship.
A vendor in this space Kentico Cloud makes some great observations in this blog, that we are evolving across IT design eras, "from plugins to APIs", and they also chart a very helpful landscape of "pure play" API providers, those running multi-tenant SaaS models built from the ground up with API service delivery in mind.
They highlight how personalized web experiences today feature a mash up of rich media content, back-end transactions and other inputs, requiring a wide spectrum of application services from Authentication, Image Processing through Billing, Analytics and even Machine Learning, which can now be synthesized together from across PaaS, SaaS and in-house systems, via APIs.
AT&T and ONAP
The other main industry trend that intersects here to very powerful effect is the open sourcing of AT&T's core NFV platform 'ECOMP', which has since accelerated into a broader industry momentum and consolidating ecosystem, with ECOMP merging with Open-O to form a new 'ONAP' - Open Network Automation Platform.
Therefore the API features of ECOMP will now be features of an open source distribution for others to use the same way, such as defined in this earlier this TelecomTV interview, where AT&T's Director of Ethernet Product Management Dan Blemings describes their motivations for the disruptive ECOMP move, and specifically the role of APIs as a central feature:
- API-driven tools for wholesale providers to on board into their systems so they can provision ethernet services in real-time, versus weeks and months.
- They are opting for open standards versus proprietary vendor solutions, essential to this supplier interoperability, such as the MEF 55 LSO Reference Architecture.
- Open sourcing ECOMP is intended to provide the industry a 'shot of adrenaline' that drives compability through a faster, more innovative ecosystem, particularly encouraging contributions back to the open source to spur innovation.
- This is central to their Platform Business Model.
Industry Ecosystem - Next Steps
This has indeed provided a platform for industry-wide innovation, with other carriers notably Orange adopting the technology and adding value in key areas like API innovation (using the TMF standards).
With others like Colt also embracing the trend they have carried on this focus of integrated SDN order provisioning.