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APIs simplify the way enterprises link to the cloud

Increasing mobility, cloud services and connected devices are driving the API business forward

By Jude Pinto

A major shift is taking place in the way business firms build their communications. The three major drivers: mobility, cloud services, and new software architectures which give center stage to small program modules called APIs (or application program interfaces).

APIs no doubt have been around for some time. They played no small part in making platform-as-a-service providers like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google big and famous. The now trend is that they are becoming more ubiquitous. Businesses of all stripes and sizes are moving their computing and telecom infrastructure to the cloud, and using APIs to make the same accessible anywhere in the world to their Internet of Customers, via mobile or fixed terminals, and via a single, global API.

Vodafone in India, and AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, Portugal Telecom, and Telefonica elsewhere, now use APIs internally or with partners. AT&T's API is powered by Voxeo Labs' Tropo platform, besides using the telecom operator's new IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) servers.

AT&T's API allows web telephony functionality to be added even to tablets, consoles and in-car systems. Developers can tie IP voice, messaging and social networking applications directly to AT&T phone numbers and extend a single number to multiple devices and applications.

IBM announced a partnership with Twilio, which would result in use of Twilio's APIs in IBM'a cloud-based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, BlueMix. From in-application dialing, conference calling, group texting, mobile app distribution, two-factor authentication and more, IBM BlueMix customers can now leverage the Twilio platform to easily build telecom solution that meets their business needs.

Twilio has expanded availability of SMS-enabled phone numbers to many countries worldwide. Developers and businesses can leverage Twilio's single, global API to send and receive texts with local phone numbers when connecting with their customers in these regions

Several firms have sprouted offering API management for clients. Vancouver-based Layer 7 Technologies is offering a get-started API management system as a hosted service from its own data center. California-based Apigee is in the same business.

For the future, the API and API management business has nowhere to go but up. According to a Cisco report, by 2015 the number of mobile-connected devices - everything from mobiles and tablets to wearable devices and cars - will overtake the world's population. APIs could connect these devices to the cloud, giving enterprises global visibility and enabling many new services to be delivered. Digital telecom globalized the call center. APIs will globalize a whole range of new services - and firms that offer these services.

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