New-generation digital service providers (DSPs) need to be able to plug in new platforms or partners and immediately create products to compete. In order to easily access other web-based software application and systems, an application-programming interface (API) is used.
An API is a software-to-software interface, not a user interface. With APIs, applications talk to each other without any user knowledge or intervention. For example, when you look for something online, buy it using your credit card and get a response back that the transaction is complete, the many applications working together behind the scenes are using APIs.
APIs are not such a new idea. Operating systems, databases and many software solutions have had APIs for decades. Newer things are open APIs, web APIs and the API economy. This involves companies opening their own platforms or solutions for third parties to innovate and develop new applications on the top of their own solutions. It also means new business models, accelerated innovation and more networked business models.
Services that include newer cloud, NFV and IoT components are a part of this mix. In order for service providers to make best use of APIs and deliver new products and services quickly, they need an environment allowing them to accelerate their API strategy.
The API economy
Serial-entrepreneur, Jouko Ahvenainen recently wrote that,
“We are moving to a new era of the API economy when APIs are no longer the territories of Internet and mobile companies alone, and instead are implemented in basically any industry.”
That is the reasoning behind a group of TM Forum members working together in a project called the API Simulator Platform Catalyst. Catalysts are rapid-fire, member-driven, proof-of-concept projects which connect service providers, technology suppliers, and global enterprises to create innovative solutions to common industry challenges.
Saving time and money
The API Simulator Platform Catalyst will provide a catalog-driven approach that will simulate fulfilment and all the active inventory from many types of services and products. If service providers adopt catalog-driven, dynamic APIs they will be able to create products without any new code integration, and that translates to achieving more and saving money.
In this model, traditional access is being presented as ‘network as a service’, where the service provides real-time control and allows the digital service provider to manage all customer interactions.
Given the extensive application of TM Forum Frameworx concepts in the simulator, the Catalyst expects to demonstrate the applicability of Frameworx in addition to the suitability of TM Forum APIs for these new types of services.
There are two main roles in each Catalyst – champions (usually an organization seeking a solution to problem) and participants (organizations contributing to solving the problem). There are no fewer than three champions involved here: AT&T, Vodafone New Zealand Wholesale and FTTH Council for Asia Pacific. Participants are: DGIT Systems (providers of software to facilitate integration between buyers and suppliers in the telco marketplace) and Wipro (a global information technology, consulting and outsourcing company). Working together, these players create an agile, accelerated environment to come up with a solution that everyone can benefit from.
The short videos below give a flavor of the Catalyst’s work and approach. The API Simulator Platform Catalyst will be demonstrated at TM Forum Live! 2016 in Nice, France (May 9-12).