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Alcatel-Lucent Nurtures Its API Grove

Only weeks after announcing its application programming interface (API) methodology, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has unveiled an API management platform that, it hopes, will become an industry standard. (See Alcatel-Lucent Puts Its APIs to Work.)

The new launch is apiGrove, an open-source platform designed to help wireless operators or enterprises more easily expose their network and cloud infrastructure APIs to third-party developers. The vendor's goal is to attract a critical mass of companies so that apiGrove becomes a de facto platform for API exposure management.

An API is an interface that allows different elements of software to more easily communicate with each other. Developers frequently use APIs in a mobile context to hook third-party applications into the wireless capabilities of an operating system or other application.

The basic premise of AlcaLu's new platform is that any company -- network operator or enterprise -- can download AlcaLu's apiGrove software and start exposing their APIs to developers that can then build apps that will run on the host company's network.

Laura Merling, head of Alcatel-Lucent's Apps Enablement strategy, hopes that apiGrove's users will contribute code back to the open-source project, helping to foster an API community and a "holistic approach" to API management. Enterprises such as Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) and the Olliance Group are among the companies already contributing code to apiGrove.

AlcaLu recognizes that this launch adds to the options available to network operators, many of which, says Merling, have three to four API management systems in place already. Apigee Corp. and the GSM Association (GSMA) 's oneAPI initiative are two examples of competing options, but she says the goal is to create a standard framework so that all the systems can work together. (See Apigee Unleashes an API Free-for-All.)

Her ultimate aim, though, is to make apiGrove ubiquitous through direct and indirect channels. By making the API management code accessible and open to anyone as an open source project, Merling's goal is get it embedded in as many cloud platforms and enterprise systems as possible, making it easier for operators to expose their network APIs to developers.

"My goal is to get the open source embedded into CloudStack, Citrix's open source cloud platform," says Merling, using Citrix as an example. Then, any carrier using Citrix for its cloud infrastructure "all the sudden has API management from apiGrove," she added.

AlcaLu is making apiGrove's installation package, source code and documentation available today on GitHub under the Apache 2.0 license. AlcaLu also offers a premium commercial Open API Platform to those companies that need a more robust management system. (See AlcaLu Turns Apps Broker.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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