Mobile platform is getting hotter and hotter for developers. After iPhone turned the user behavior of mobile devices upside down, a gold rush began for developers. The huge success of iPhone platform has made mobile very attractive for everyone from users to developers to, even, enterprises. The success of Android platform and the excitement created by Windows Mobile 7 have increased the opportunity in the mobile space. From the days of “there’s an app for that” Apple campaign, we have moved to an era of platforms where we can easily claim that “there’s is an app store for that”. Not to be outdone by mobile OS vendors, mobile operators from around the world had joined hands together to help developers create apps for devices on their network. Whether it is the Joint Innovation Lab spearheaded by Verizon, China Mobile, Vodafone and Softbank Mobile or the alliance announced yesterday by around 20 operators including AT&T, Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, Bharti Airtel, etc., these operators are hell bent upon having a thriving app ecosystem on their network. They clearly understand that such an ecosystem is vital for their very existence in the upcoming decade.

Alcatel-Lucent, a leader in mobile networking technologies, is already focusing on an application enablement strategy. They are using their leadership position on these technologies to help mobile network operators and application providers to offer apps without getting bogged down by the high network costs. They were acting as a network integrator to help these providers offer wide ranging applications to customers.

Today Alcatel-Lucent has announced a new developer platform on the cloud with game changing APIs that helps bring together developers, service providers and enterprises to build the applications for the future. Alcatel-Lucent have a clear vision about network being a platform for applications transcending mobile operators, devices and mobile operating systems. To make this vision a reality, they are taking an active role in empowering the developers by setting up a sandbox based on the cloud that offers the necessary tools for developers to build, test, manage and distribute applications across networks, including television, broadband Internet and mobile. With this platform, Alcatel-Lucent is acting as a bridge between service providers, enterprises and third party developers. This cloud based platform with open network based services allows service providers to securely expose their unique network APIs to more and more developers, helping them to take part in the application market gold rush.

Let us take a brief look at what this offers. Since I was out on the weekend, I missed an opportunity to get a briefing from the Alcatel-Lucent folks currently busy in Barcelona. But I managed to dig a little bit into the information that was available to me. Essentially this adds some additional tools, a virtual sandbox and a way to handle the entire application lifecycle to the Alcatel-Lucent Application Exposure Suite they announced late last year. Their API integration and bundling model is designed in such a way that it helps developers to monetize seamlessly like the service providers and enterprises by bundling a revenue sharing approach. This model also offers the developers a smart API bundles for application creation by putting together two or more APIs/web services. The advantage of this approach is that it doesn’t require the upfront API feels which was acting as a deterrent for many developers. The fact that this model embraces the Open API philosophy announced by the company earlier, makes it even more attractive for developers.

To support the adoption of the API bundle model, Alcatel-Lucent also unveiled two new developer tools — a virtual sandbox and a dashboard. 

The Virtual Sandbox provides developers with a comprehensive environment in which they can simulate, test and verify new applications across service provider networks for delivery across a wide range of platforms.  Developed through Alcatel-Lucent’s extensive engagement with customers worldwide, the Virtual Sandbox helps provide a scalable and  comprehensive testing ground to accelerate development, distribution and deployment of new services.

The Dashboard offers developers real-time business analysis of application activity, API statistics, costs and the revenue potential of applications.  Using the dashboard, developers can explore the various business model options associated with a given service and make an educated determination about its relative value and revenue potential before committing significant time or expense to creating the application.  It also can be used to track the success metrics of an application over time

Mobile platform is very crucial for the very success of cloud computing. The mobile applications are going to be the biggest driver of cloud adoption. By taking the network as a platform approach, Alacatel-Lucent is positioning itself to be a dominant driver of this shift. It will be interesting to see how all these efforts from companies like Alcatel-Lucent to network operators to OS vendors like Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. are going to shape up the industry in the coming decade. Pretty exciting times are ahead in the mobile market and, also, in the cloud computing space.

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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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