**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**
As promised, AT&T is offering an open API platform to channel partners as part of its AT&T Partners Exchange program, which was launched in February 2013, to enable solution providers to create custom bundles and solutions using AT&T network capabilities.
Significantly, the carrier also plans to extend the platform to other indirect channels beginning later this year, said Jason Porter, vice president of business operations for AT&T’s Emerging Business Markets, home of AT&T’s Partner Exchange. These channels include wholesale providers, systems integrators as well as AT&T Alliance Channel members, Porter said.
The API platform enables solution providers to build on top of AT&T’s APIs to create applications to sell to customers and other partners. It also extends beyond solutions providers to an ecosystem of third parties, such as billing providers that can enable new capabilities for solutions providers.
“It really enables an explosion of innovation on top of our API platform,” Porter said.
As an example, Porter said APIs enable partners to provide quotes to their customers in seconds, with orders flowing to field engineers within minutes of being submitted. In one example, he said a partner has used the platform with Google Maps in order to quickly provide customers with service availability and pricing for AT&T network services at any location from a tablet computer.
Initially, three AT&T services are accessible through the API platform: virtual private networking, managed Internet services and Ethernet services. Other services will follow, Porter said.
In the next few months, Porter said AT&T will release functionality that will enable solution providers to monitor provisioning, customize the billing experience and manage trouble tickets. He added that third parties already are planning applications that deliver automated billing and taxation for network services.
Today, Porter said AT&T Partner Exchange resellers can take advantage of the API platform in two ways:
Using the portal, partners can take advantages of reduced cycle times, but Porter said they don’t get the advantages of pulling data directly from AT&T into their own systems. Chief among these advantages are current and accurate data that are free of errors and delays associated with manual rekeying, he explained. Another is reducing overhead of personnel required to interface with AT&T manually.
Solution providers using the platform are supported by AT&T’s agile development or “scrum” team, which Porter explained is a cross-functional group that develops code in an iterative fashion, presenting the opportunity to test and validate decisions along the way.