Telia: Telco transformation with APIs

About Telia

Telia serves millions of customers as the hub of the digital ecosystem in one of the world's most connected regions. With headquarters in Stockholm and more than 20,000 employees across Northern Europe, Telia is an innovative, next-generation telco.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden

Telia transforms its traditional telco business by using the Apigee API Management Platform to empower developers to become API product owners.

Google Cloud Results

  • Enables 350 partners to develop and manage messaging applications using Telia APIs
  • Enables scaled, widespread API product development instead of relying on a single team of developers
  • Transforms telco business from traditional services to an "APIs as products" model

Managing 1.5M API calls daily through the Apigee platform

As one of the largest telecommunications companies in the Nordics, Telia is skilled at using APIs to improve products and services. The company has integrated APIs into almost all of its systems, giving customers new ways to consume telco staples such as messaging, billing, and alerts. Telia is now challenging itself to start inventing new products, harnessing the power to innovate that comes with mastering APIs. Mikael Nilsson, API Garden Product Owner at Telia, manages a team of Apigee API Management Platform expert gardeners who help teams around the company cultivate their own API products.

"We use the Apigee API Management Platform to enable teams to work independent of each other. Teams are self-contained and have to take care of everything, from development to maintenance, on their own. The Telia API Garden helps teams to focus on developing APIs as products in their own right."

Mikael Nilsson, API Garden Product Owner, Telia

Teaching teams to be independent API product owners

When Telia first adopted Apigee three years ago, the main goal was simple. The company wanted to adopt a robust API platform for both API management and development. Telia now uses Apigee company-wide, with teams working on their own APIs in every country where Telia operates. The "API Garden" encourages independence, offering examples and advice on best practices so that each team can develop and manage their own APIs. While not set up to be a traditional center of excellence, the API Garden provides internal shared services along with an extra level of support and advice. It also handles some centralized Apigee infrastructure including monitoring, firewalls, alarms, and onboarding.

"We use the Apigee API Management Platform to enable teams to work independent of each other," says Nilsson. "Teams are self-contained and have to take care of everything, from development to maintenance, on their own. The Telia API Garden helps teams to focus on developing APIs as products in their own right."

To transition from being a company that mainly uses APIs internally to one that exposes APIs to the outside world, the API Garden team provides a combination of best practices advice and practical monitoring to colleagues. For example, it scans all of the APIs that get published by independent teams to make sure that they meet security standards. Rather than impose a set of rules at the outset, the API Garden team relies on making suggestions to help their colleagues develop a set of best practices. For example, an API that gets published without a security key would generate an inquiry from the API Garden team about whether the intention really was to allow anyone to consume the API without a token. And if the team needed advice on configuring security, the API Garden team would assist.

"We want to model best practices, and this means preparing to import APIs no matter what platform they've been developed on. Launching the Telia Developer Portal on Drupal 8 means that we can enable our developers to find all our APIs in one portal."

Mikael Nilsson, API Garden Product Owner, Telia

Reaping the benefits of product thinking

Since adopting this approach at the beginning of 2019, Telia has onboarded more than 30 teams that can all develop API products. Before then, the company looked at the Apigee team as a resource for helping project teams build APIs. Now, the focus is enabling teams to develop their own APIs. This model enables Telia to scale up API product development exponentially instead of relying on a single API team that could quickly become overwhelmed.

Telia currently has about 90 APIs on the Apigee platform and plans to migrate another 120 this year. The company uses the Apigee Developer Portal as an internal resource at the moment while it completes integration and testing prior to a public launch. It's important for Nilsson and the API Garden team to be able to launch their developer platform on the recently released Drupal 8 Apigee architecture, which will help ensure that the company can import APIs from other gateways as well.

"We want to model best practices, and this means preparing to import APIs no matter what platform they've been developed on," adds Nilsson. "Launching the Telia Developer Portal on Drupal 8 means that we can enable our developers to find all our APIs in one portal."

"What makes Apigee a standout is product thinking. Rather than viewing APIs as simple integrations, Apigee supports teams so that they can focus on building real products."

Mikael Nilsson, API Garden Product Owner, Telia

A big goal for Telia is to embrace an API business model and start monetizing APIs. Moving in this direction means that partners will use APIs as the single way to work with Telia as a company, transforming the company from a traditional telco to a next-generation digital business. To deliver on this business model, however, the company needs to be able to charge for its API products. The Apigee monetization features provide Telia teams with the opportunity to start generating revenue with proof-of-concept projects. For those API products that scale and promise to grow into significant revenue centers, the company will evaluate more complex monetization models. It's this kind of agile development thinking that makes Nilsson appreciate Apigee even more.

"What makes Apigee a standout is product thinking," says Nilsson. "Rather than viewing APIs as simple integrations, Apigee supports teams so that they can focus on building real products."

Getting developers on board to speed innovation

While traditional telco services such as messaging, activating SIM cards, billing, and ordering devices all now being delivered through APIs, Telia has plans to do much more. Nilsson says that the reaction from Telia developers has been enthusiastic, with ease of use being the most appreciated aspect of the platform. To date about 400 Telia developers have been onboarded, with more than 150 them already having launched apps.

At Telia, Apigee is credited with helping to enable the kind of API team structure to help the company with its digital transformation. Translating IT capabilities into products that can be used internally and externally is all about creating APIs. With the internal Telia IT model well on its way to being API-centered, it's a matter of months before Nilsson and the API Garden team extend this model to partners. By the end of 2019, all Telia capabilities are expected to be consumed as APIs.

About Telia

Telia serves millions of customers as the hub of the digital ecosystem in one of the world's most connected regions. With headquarters in Stockholm and more than 20,000 employees across Northern Europe, Telia is an innovative, next-generation telco.

Industries: Technology
Location: Sweden