Alcatel-Lucent apiGrove — A New, Open-Sourced API Management Service

Alcatel-Lucent is open-sourcing a new API software engine and management platform called apiGrove that is meant to serve as a services layer for enterprises and large service providers.

Alcatel-Lucent’s goal is to make apiGrove a core layer in a cloud infrastructure so customers may either use it to connect to apps or infrastructure environments. The apiGrove installation package, source code, and documentation are available on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 license. ApiGrove is based on Alcatel-Lucent’s API platform.

APIs are considered a distribution engine for doing business online. Apps that have APIs can be distributed through other apps and services. There are countless companies that use APIs but the methods to manage them are changing as service providers and enterprise providers transform their infrastructures to be multi-tenant and elastic.

On the flip side, it is taking some time for organizations to automate and orchestrate data centers to fit with the cloud providers. Adding to the dynamic, lines of business are using APIs to connect with platforms for such uses as test and development or application integration. The intent for most is to innovate and develop apps to gain market advantage.

The API provider market is going through its own transformation. Companies like Layer 7 have made their mark over the years by offering services oriented architecture (SOA) management, the preferred method for application management prior to web oriented architecture coming into vogue with RESTful APIs. These REST-based APIs now represent the most common way to connect different services.

Newer entrants include Apigee, which is now offering its API management platform for free. Mashery and 3Scale also play in this market. Programmable Web has a complete list here.

Alcatel-Lucent is trying to disrupt the market by open-sourcing its platform to be a service that allows for service providers to automate the API management layer for end customers.

It’s a move for Alcatel-Lucent that has some potential upside. But there is always a question about what interest developers will take in developing a new platform. That’s the challenge for Alcatel-Lucent.

“‘Open sourcing’ a proprietary closed source product is usually a red herring,” said Sam Ramji of Apigee. “The only thing that matters in open source is community interest and contributions. Everything else is a publicity stunt. Starting open source is much easier than ‘going open source.’ “