We’ve often written on the subject of APIs. Our thoughts can be roughly summarised as:
- APIs are essential, operators should expose them without delay
- Standards are helpful, but not if they take years to resolve or be adopted
- The industry at large is embracing and exposing APIs, don’t get left behind
- REST is probably the best model
It seems, on the evidence of presentations at the recent SDP Global Summit in Rome as if many others have reached the same conclusions.
Whereas previous editions of the conference have emphasised the benefits of standardisation and highlighted various industry initiatives to co-ordinate API exposure (e.g. OneAPI and WAC, among other efforts), this time around there was little discussion of standards per se and, instead, a refreshing consensus that we need to do something and do it quickly to compete.
When the topic did emerge, it was generally given short shrift. Yes, standards are important, but you need to pick and choose. Clearly, to ensure interoperability between, say, one 10Gb/s Ethernet router and another, standards help. But to standardise APIs to achieve some commonality is a lengthy and possibly thankless task when compared to the speed at which many OTT and internet-based companies are launching interfaces that allow third parties to leverage their capabilities.
Of course, it has merits, but not necessarily ones which outweigh the negatives. To paraphrase news from some participants, it seems that they would like to adopt standards, as and when they are ready, but see no reason to do so now, as the standards-based versions of APIs aren’t sufficiently mature to meet the needs of their development partners. Probably, they will migrate to them in the future – but they need something now. It’s almost certainly the first time we have heard such a gung-ho attitude in the six years we have attended the summit.
By removing the focus from APIs, much more interesting questions could be discussed. These include the desired audience (or, some might say ‘market’) for telco APIs and the assets that can be offered to their benefit, questions to which we shall return in subsequent posts.
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