In episode 18 of The Cutting Edge Podcast, Leonard Lee focuses on APIs. He explores why application programming interfaces (APIs) are a big deal and what makes them significant, as well as what CIOs and CTOs should expect from the “API economy” and the potential benefits it can bring, specifically in the realm of 5G networks and mobile edge computing (MEC) infrastructure.
00:36 — APIs have been around since the ’70s and can be based on open or proprietary standards. They specify how data is formatted, but not how it’s handled by the source and target systems.
01:35 — As it pertains to edge computing, APIs are all about exposing functions and services of the edge infrastructure. This should not be confused with APIs for the applications that might run on the edge infrastructure. Leonard says this is an important distinction to keep in mind. In the emerging edge cloud computing world, open standard-based APIs are expected to be an important way of making new 5G network and MEC edge compute infrastructure services accessible to developers, enabling them to scale more economically.
02:32 — These applications can be deployed across edge cloud infrastructure, both public and private, explains Leonard. At the recent MWC 2023 conference, the GSMA announced its Open Gateway Initiative and the Linux Foundation’s CAMARA project to define a global set of APIs that standardize how developers can interface with the new network and MEC infrastructure services and capabilities that 5G promises to bring.
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03:17 — In terms of the “API economy,” which Leonard finds to be a bit of a misnomer, given what APIs actually are, Vonage is looking to pioneer the market for API-accessible 5G network and MEC services with its Global Network Platform (GNP). The company would operate as a sort of MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), providing participating operators with access to Vonage’s large developer community. And what the developers would get is access to pooled-aggregated 5G network services and coverage of participating operators.
04:44 — Leonard says what he’s talking about here with GNP is different from what you might have heard of as CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) for things like voice messaging and videos. Now, all these things are APIs, but they are more like applets that developers can code or embed into their websites or CRM applications.
05:09 — Many operators are building their own API marketplaces, allowing developers to compose new network-aware applications. The APIs that the GSMA and others are trying to standardize globally serve to simplify and harmonize things at the technical integration level.
05:45 — The future of APIs and the API economy is still up in the air, and it depends on the maturity, coverage, and Quality of Service on Demand (QOD) that 5G promises to bring.
06:14 — CTOs and CIOs should build their awareness of how emerging 5G edge cloud infrastructures are evolving. “As 5G networks and MEC infrastructures continue to mature, they should present enterprises and vendors with a new realm of possibilities and innovation accessible by — guess what — APIs,” concludes Leonard.
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