Communications technology and services provider Alcatel-Lucent is launching a new practice focused on supporting a lifecycle methodology for application programming interfaces (APIs) which will be licensed under Creative Commons and available free to any developer.

The new API consulting and professional services practice is built on Alcatel-Lucent’s API staffing resources as well as the company's API lifecycle methodology. Alcatel-Lucent says it will provide operators with expertise and technology to streamline the creation, deployment and management of network-based services.

The 3-Phase ‘Repeatable Innovation’ Model

In addition to making network-based services easier to develop, one of the key goals of Alcatel-Lucent’s new practice is to create what the company calls a “repeatable innovation” model. Toward that end, Alcatel-Lucent is providing flexible methodology that follows three defined phases of Definition, Design and Deployment. Each phase can be offered on a standalone basis or combined, depending on where the service provider is with their current API strategy. Following is a brief overview of each phase:

  • Definition -- Establishing appropriate business objectives and matching evaluation parameters by looking at what can be done with service provider network assets, as well as looking at what competitors are doing with theirs. This also involves defining the most compelling services for consumers and businesses.
  • Design -- In this phase APIs are created for developers from business assets and services, helping to ensure that technology choices match overall business goals and the standardization of API libraries, as well as standardized error handling and the creation of developer-friendly example code.
  • Deployment -- Focusing on how services are deployed and then undergoing continuous analysis and improvement through to end-of-life. This phase also includes back-end systems integration, testing and production deployment and performance optimization. In the deployment phase the major emphasis for service providers shifts from the quality of the developer experience to quality of the end user experience. 

APIs Become Widespread

As reported by TechCrunch, the new Alcatel Lucent initiative is “testament to the widespread adoption of APIs.” In commentary on the practice, TechCrunch cites companies such as Apigee and Mashery which have “built significant businesses by offering API gateways.” Despite widespread API acceptance, TechCrunch concludes “most companies still do not have the knowledge and experience to craft a successful strategy to take advantage of changing business models.”

Alcatel Lucent Aims for Open, Easier Development

Alcatel Lucent’s new API practice is not the company’s first effort at providing an open environment to ease the process of development. In May 2011, Alcatel Lucent made OpenPlug Studio, a cross-platform software development kit (SDK) that enables the creation of native applications for mobile web-connected devices, available to developers for free. According to Alcatel-Lucent, OpenPlug Studio uses web development technologies -- ActionScript, Javascript, and XML -- as the foundation to build mobile apps. The company also launched a "Certified OpenPlug Solutions Provider Program" targeted at application development and developer training.