I remember when OpenStack was announced – the creation of an open source solution in a formerly entirely proprietary area was something of a bomb shell. Regardless of your thoughts around open stack as a product (or, more correctly a series of product), it’s hard to be critical of an initiative that at its core is all about lowering the barriers to entry and encouraging innovation among multiple players.

It’s with this same degree of excitement that I welcome the announcement by Alcatel-Lucent of apiGrove – the open source version of their API management engine. apiGrove is a software engine that can be downloaded today from GitHub and installed in around 30 minutes, and is open sources under the Apache 2.0 license. In a previous post about Alcatel-Lucent’s release of an API development methodology under creative commons, I stated that;

Existing API vendors are focused, by their very nature, on the technology of the API and hence the business discussion is secondary. I envisage a future where API delivery and management solutions are another offering sitting on top of cloud infrastructure, such that an API management function – say increasing a rate limit – can be automatically adjusted in the same way that cloud infrastructure scales. In order for this to happen the very API platform needs to be constructed on its own open APIs, allowing for clear hooks between it and other platforms

In a comment on that post, Steven Wilmott, the CEO of API management vendor 3Scale said that;

I don’t recommend companies look for “a business model for their API”, I recommend they look for an “API for their business model”.

By giving organizations a quick, painless and low (or no) cost way to create APIs, Alcatel-Lucent is greatly reducing the barriers to a burgeoning in the number of APIs that exist – and, by extension, that will greatly increase the number of innovative initiatives that organizations can experiment with. It’s also a smart strategy for Alcatel-Lucent which is trying its hardest to enable it’s existing carrier customers, not known as the most innovative of organizations, to “smart their dumb pipes” and drive some added value from their existing infrastructure. Alcatel-Lucent hopes to create a large pipeline of organizations who, having run a successful trial project on apiGrove, will then use Alcatel-Lucent’s commercial solution to fulfill their needs.

In terms of functional breadth, apiGrove supports a scalable approach through clustering, load balancing and request routing. It includes such base functionality as authentication and authorization, injection detection and certificate management. On top of all that the solution includes rate limiting, quota management and transactional record keeping.

The combination of the creative commons methodology, alongside the open source API platform itself removes all practical barriers to organizations trialing an API strategy – of course that’s no guarantee that they’ll do so – carriers are notoriously risk averse and innovation is an oftentimes foreign concept to them.Still, you have to applaud Alcatel-Lucent for at least trying.

In a glimpse of something I contemplated in my previous post, Alcatel-Lucent suggests the tantalizing concept that;




a cloud services vendor could integrate apiGrove into their core stack for managing cloud services, or offer a new cloud application service enabling customers to run their business in the cloud. Or a communications service provider could use apiGrove to address the wide, and fast-evolving array of security or policy management requirements they need to support

Interesting times in the API space for sure.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • Hi Ben, can you point me towards the compiled installation package? I’d like to get up and running in 30 minutes. A google search for “e3-installer-module” returns no visible hits.

    The GitHub project only contains the source. My attempt to build on Mac OS via straight command line maven3.0.3 fails due to dependency errors.

    I will try building using the recommended STS, and wonder why the dependency is required.

    The build README contains significant references to RedHat Linux VM. Is RedHat Linux required?

  • Chris,

    Check the readme.md file on github, https://github.com/apigrove/apigrove/blob/master/README.md/ it points to the tarball for the installer in downloads, https://github.com/apigrove/apigrove/downloads/.

    As noted in the docs, apiGrove has been tested and verified for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.8. As E3 was originally developed for RHEL, having a single deployment platform helped us meet our security goals. Going forward, we’re actively looking to support other operating systems and welcome comments about our progress and contributions from the community.

    Check out the docs and let us know how you progress and connect with us on our forums if you have other questions, http://apigrove.net/forum/.

    Tim Cloonan
    apiGrove Community Evangelist

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