Hewlett-Packard officials, who first talked about its plans for an online store for software-defined networking apps about a year ago, will officially launch its SDN App Store next month.
The SDN App Store will kick off Oct. 1 with eight applications—two developed by HP and six others by partners—and officials expect more apps to become available in the near future. The company expects the app store to add fuel to the ongoing interest among enterprises in SDN and its close relative, network-functions virtualization (NFV), which promise to make networks more agile, programmable and flexible by removing the control plane and network tasks—such as load balancing, intrusion detection and firewalls—from the underlying hardware and putting them into software.
In such a software-defined environment, applications become increasingly important. IDC analysts expect the market for SDN applications to reach $1.1 billion by 2017. HP's SDN App Store will enable customers to shop for applications rather than having to develop them, according to officials. HP and its partners have taken on the responsibility of not only creating the software, but also testing and validating the apps with HP products and offering service and support.
"We expect adoption [of the HP SDN App Store] to really explode over the next year," said Jacob Rapp, global marketing leader for HP Networking.
With the rise of such trends as mobile computing, big data, security and the cloud, the demand for more flexible networks is increasing. Industry surveys have indicated a rapidly growing interest in SDN technology among enterprises, though widespread adoption is still a ways off. A study late last year by QuinStreet Enterprise—publisher of eWEEK and other technology news sites—found that SDN is still an emerging technology that has small but growing penetration in the enterprise.
Most established data center players—including HP, Cisco Systems, VMware and Juniper Networks—as well as a range of smaller vendors are rapidly building out their SDN portfolios. Rapp said HP has seen significant interest in its SDN products—for example, its Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller has been downloaded more than 3,000 times, while its SDN Software Development Kit has been downloaded more than 5,000 times. In addition, HP has shipped more than 30 million SDN networking ports.
All of this indicates that "SDN is enterprise-ready and has gone mainstream," he told eWEEK.
In HP's SDN App Store, the offerings are put into four categories. The HP Circle holds those apps developed and tested by HP, while the Premium Circle offers top-selling apps jointly tested by HP and its partners. The Partner Circle includes those apps self-tested by HP's partners and reviewed by HP, while the Community Circle offers apps developed by anyone using HP's APIs and accompanying documentation.
The two HP-developed apps are Network Protector, which can automatically assess the network and offer real-time security across OpenFlow-enabled network devices, and Network Optimizer for Microsoft Lync, for automated provisioning of network policy provisioning and quality-of-service.
Among the partners offering apps are BlueCat Networks, F5 Networks, Ecode and Real Status, whose offerings range from an SDN orchestrator to SDN-based network security.
More apps will be added to the online store, with more than 30 partners working on software, Rapp said. They illustrate the amount of work being done in networking, which had been a relatively stagnant part of the data center for years, he said.
"We're trying to make innovation happen in the network," Rapp said. "It's been awhile."
HP will demonstrate the SDN App Store and its applications at the Interop 2014 show in New York starting Sept. 29.