While telcos are, for the most part, embracing the TM Forum's Open APIs, software product vendors' implementations are lagging, according to a study.
The results of TM Forum's quarterly survey show that the average maturity level of Open APIs was 26% higher for CSPs than for vendors. The lack of vendor participation has led some communications service providers (CSPs) to take a "do it yourself" (DIY) approach to implementing the Open APIs.
“The majority of our Open API implementations to date have been wrapping our product vendors’ legacy APIs," said Lester Thomas, chief IT systems architect, Vodafone Group, in a statement. "This is partly driven from the fact that we are building a digital experience layer across all our markets while we are modernizing the back-end vendor systems-of-record at a slower rate.
"We have started to see native TM Forum Open API implementations from some of our vendors, and all of the new BSS implementations we have done over the last two years have included native support for TM Forum’s Open APIs.”
The TM Forum has been building support for its REST-based Open API ecosystem over the past three years. Companies using the Open APIs include Axiata, Bharti Airtel, BT, China Mobile, China Unicom, Ericsson, Globe, Huawei, IBM, MyRepublic, NTT-Group, Oracle, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone, among others.
The TM Forum announced in May that AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Salesforce and China Telecom had signed on in support of its Open APIs. To date, 53 of the world's CSPs and vendor partners have signed the TM Forum's Open API Manifesto to show their support for using them. Those APIs are in use by more than 7,000 software developers in over 1,200 companies worldwide.
The TM Forum’s Open APIs were designed to enable zero-touch interoperability and zero-touch partnering, as well as helping service providers become more agile while reducing their IT integration and maintenance costs. Currently, the TM Forum has more than 50 REST-based Open APIs.
While CSPs are embracing the Open APIs, Thomas also noted the growing demand for Open APIs outside the telecom sector.
“In the enterprise space, we are also seeing some enterprise customers mandating the use of Open APIs as part of their RFPs, and we are starting to see inter-operator use-cases based on Open APIs," Thomas said.