Real Time Communications Featured Article

The API Opportunity

February 08, 2016

An API, not to be confused with the American Petroleum Institute, is an application program interface. In layman’s terms, it’s a collection of tools, routines and protocols for building software applications. And according to expert Andy Abramson, open APIs and standards are “making the digital world go round…touching our lives every minute of the day.”

Abramson hosted the keynote presentation, “APIs: The Future of Business,” at ITEXPO.  In that presentation, he highlighted the importance of leveraging APIs, at the risk of being outpaced by more tech-savvy competitors. The panel included GENBAND’s Natasha Tamscar, Dialogic’s Jim Machi, Digium’s Steve Sokol, Sprint’s Mo Nasser and Carenection’s Muthsamy Selvaraj.

Selvaraj said that initially, APIs were an add-on, but today are a key piece of collaboration and workplace efficiency. Integration and improvements to workflow, collaboration and processes are benefits from today’s API economy. 

GENBAND launched its developer platform KANDY in the fall of 2014, and Tamscar notes API exposure as a direct result. Communications providers can leverage open APIs via WebRTC to develop not just “regular solutions” but special enterprise applications as well. Tamscar see this as an area to maintain focus noting, “That’s where big changes are going to happen.”

She continued to note, “WebRTC is a mechanism that allows for different forms of communications. It can then be wrapped around SDKs for mobile and Web, and one can also package APIs in to easily consumable forms via WebRTC.” Explaining verticals like healthcare and finance are already creating packages and supporting solutions around that idea.

From Nasser’s perspective, the IoT is a key benefactor from the API economy. He explained, “In telecom a lot happens on the handset,” and the AEP layer is now open via API creating exciting opportunities for our connected future.

Jim Machi from Dialogic stated since the late 1990s he has opened products with APIs, explaining that today his favorite API is NFV-related. By being open source and open component, Machi credits Digium (Asterisk) for “ushering in a new era.”

From honoring Asterisk and Digium, Digum’s Steve Sokol turned focus on to what he referred to as, “the elephant in the room,” Twilio. Sokol credits with firm with the biggest industry impact noting, “They’ve done an incredible job of developing a concept in industry.” Sokol’s favorite API to work with is RESPOKE, and he explained that by developers releasing a well thought out API, “integration can be done in an afternoon”—especially when it comes to WebRTC.

He illustrated, “Developers are creative and really good about solving business problems, WebRTC makes communications easier than before, but still needs mindshare on inside.” The future is bright for this nascent technology, but without an internal dialogue on standards the outside won’t get to enjoy the potential.

Tamscar provided attendees with an example of the power of APIs using Amazon and Walmart to illustrate her point. Amazon has released numerous APIs, and has expanded greatly.  Walmart, on the flip side, is experiencing stunted growth due to its lack of investment in the API economy. The fact of the matter is this: APIs may be the buzzword of today, but they will drive the enterprise, service providers and more than you know into the future.

It’s all about the API.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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