& cplSiteName &

AlcaLu Shows Off Its Apps Abs

Ray Le Maistre
12/3/2009
50%
50%

The race to be the most important and trusted vendor partner to the world's major communications service providers is well and truly on, with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) edging out in front of its main rivals today with the unveiling of its applications development solutions and services. (See AlcaLu Announces App Suite.)

In the past, vendors were competing with each other to have the fastest, biggest (in capacity terms), and most efficient hardware on the block. While hardware capabilities are still very important, the leading systems suppliers now need to show some brains as well as brawn, especially when it comes to developing software-based systems that can help operators develop new business opportunities that enable them to compete with the likes of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Facebook , and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), as well as their traditional rivals -- while becoming more flexible, nimble, and efficient in the bargain. (See Amazon's Lessons for Telcos.)

And service providers are looking for the software smarts that will help them work closely with the apps development community. Or, put another way, to help tham adopt some Web services capabilities and develop a Telco 2.0 strategy. (See TDC Commits to Telco 2.0 Strategy, BT Hires Telco 2.0 Expert, and Telcos Waffle on Web 2.0.)

At the recent OSS 2.0 event in London, Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell stated that "exploiting third-party services is the key to future telcos' success, and the telcos know this."

She cited the results of a recent survey conducted with 138 network operators showing that "better partnering and collaboration with third-party service providers" is regarded as the most important factor (from a selection of 10) to the "future success of today's mainstream telcos." (The runner-up: rapid transition to all-IP, next-generation networks.)

Alcatel-Lucent figured out the importance of this carrier need some time ago and announced its intention to be a more applications-centric company in late 2008 when then-new CEO Ben Verwaayen unveiled his strategy for the vendor. (See AlcaLu's New Vision: More Convergence.)

Now the fruits of that labor have been revealed with the unveiling of the company's Application Exposure Suite and its Open API Service, the hosted cloud service that Light Reading exclusively revealed last week. AlcaLu is also offering key professional services that aim to help service providers identify the opportunities and "navigate their way through this... They don't have deep skills in this area," states the vendor's president of solutions and marketing, Kenny Frank. (See AlcaLu Turns Apps Broker.)

In other words, Alcatel-Lucent has pulled together from its own developments (plus from some unannounced partners) a software platform that sits between a service provider's assets (the network, subscriber information, billing system, and so on) and applications partners, whether they be independent developers or content owners. This exposes carrier assets and enables third-party applications development with all the requisite bells and whistles -- such as testing capabilities, payment settlements, and application programming interface (API) code.

The idea isn't new: A number of carriers have been working with service delivery platform (SDP) specialist Aepona Ltd. , for example, to build that sort of platform; and the GSM Association (GSMA) (with Aepona's help) has been working on its OneAPI initiative to facilitate the same carrier/developer collaboration. (See Aepona Acquisition Adds Telco 2.0 $marts .)

But AlcaLu has gone a step further, putting its developments into action with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S). It's that real-world experience, and reference account, that puts it out in front of its rivals -- for now, at least.

Decent exposure
At the heart of Alcatel-Lucent's efforts is the Application Exposure Suite (AES), which lets service providers support the software developers.

"Currently, there's no rich interface between the carriers and the apps developers, many of whom view the carriers as little more than dumb pipes. That situation is choking innovation," Frank says, before noting that the "handset world is a bit richer."

The AES, or Exposure Framework, provides a set of building blocks -- APIs, customization capabilities, provisioning and apps monitoring capabilities, and more -- to the developers, and exposes a set of service provider "application enablers" (subscriber data, comms services, content distribution capabilities, billing and rating settings, quality-of-service control capabilities, and so on) from multivendor network environments. The developers, or external service/content owners, can then build relevant and appropriate services that can be marketed to the carrier's customers.

This can be used by the carrier to build its own external services platform, probably with help from AlcaLu's services team, or it can be accessed by multiple operators through AlcaLu's Open API hosted service, which is up and running in the U.S. market.

Frank says Alcatel-Lucent has been working with a Tier 1 carrier on the deployment of the AES platform, and that it has learned a lot from that engagement, which, in turn, has shaped the development of the platform.

"We are way beyond where we were a year ago," Frank asserts, stressing that the vendor's early engagements and its experience working in a multivendor environment at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) around the development of the U-verse IPTV services has "galvanized us... It's been a big challenge internally."

Good idea, tough sell
So is AlcaLu on to a winner here? Maybe, says Heavy Reading's Chappell.

She says the "overall premise is good," but that there will be big question marks around security and policy control, determining what the third-party developers will be able to access and manipulate to build new apps. "Developers will continue to not care about the impact [that their development and applications] will have on carrier networks," she believes.

She also has concerns that there are too many companies and organizations developing so-called open APIs independently of each other, which could ultimately lead to the kind of interoperability issues that open APIs are supposed to solve. She believes, though, that of the major telecom vendors, Alcatel-Lucent has "probably the most extensive set of capabilities for controlling the various [carrier] network elements."

And, as ever, carriers will be ultra cautious. "Yes, the carriers need to open up to developers, but this will need to be done with very strict controls. The big question is still around how much control carriers will be prepared to give to external developers. I think we'll see carriers being very cautious about this," adds Chappell, who believes AlcaLu's big revenues opportunity will come around the professional services capabilities it will offer to help the operators build the tight security and control mechanisms they'll want to implement.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, July 27, 1:00PM EDT
The Changing Face of the Data Center World
Rodney M. Elder, Senior Solutions Architect, Equinix
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
in association with:
From The Founder
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Juniper's next-gen comms solutions, and that's a good thing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (0) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
LRTV Interviews
Enterprise Pitch for Ciscosson

7|14|16   |   04:43   |   (0) comments


After seven months of near silence, Cisco and Ericsson executives publicly discussed details on their extensive partnership. Among the tidbits shared by Martin Zander, VP, group strategy programs, Ericsson, and Doug Webster, VP service provider marketing, Cisco: The partnership was initially launched to serve the service provider market, but is already gaining ...
Wagner’s Ring
Cisco Faces Up to Hypercloud Threat

7|13|16   |   02:42   |   (0) comments


Facebook, Amazon and Google mostly don't buy branded technology for their networks – they build their own. That's a threat to Cisco – and its competitors too – which face potentially dwindling demand for their product. Is Cisco up to the challenge? Light Reading went to the annual Cisco Live conference to find out.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Better Connected Russia

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016, Alla Shabelnikova of Ovum shares the findings of a white paper outlining the challenges and opportunities of broadband rollout in Russia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Global Video Business

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016, Roger Feng of Huawei shares insights on the future of video business.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
UBBS World Tour Moscow Highlights

7|13|16   |     |   (0) comments


At UBBS World Tour 2016 at Moscow, Huawei showcases its outstanding progress in video technology.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
SoftBank Muscles In on ARM in $32B Deal
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/18/2016
Ericsson 'Doubles' Savings Goal as Sales Slump
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2016
Kevin Lo's Move to Facebook: Sign of Things to Come?
Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, 7/20/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.