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HP SDN app store is open for business with eight OpenFlow apps

HP's marketplace for SDN apps is now open. Download apps from F5, Blue Cat, Kemp and others for HP's OpenFlow controller.

HP Networking has opened its SDN app store for business.

The HP SDN app store is a marketplace for SDN applications that run on HP's Virtual Application Networks OpenFlow controller. HP announced the application store last year and it has been collaborating with partners on the development of applications ever since.

The app store "provides a very integrated experience for [network operators]," said Jacob Rapp, HP's senior manager of SDN marketing. "When we talk to customers, they say they haven't yet found this level of integration between the network and various companies. F5, for instance, has an app [in the store]. Before, if you wanted F5 integration, it required a reference architecture, new configuration, etc. But the burden was on the network engineer to implement and deploy and make sure those guidelines were followed step by step. In this model, you can quickly integrate new F5 innovations into the SDN controller and into the network. They can bring that service to market quicker."

HP's SDN app store has mostly a metaphorical connection to the notion of an app store popularized by Apple and Android smartphones.

"It won't be like running apps on a phone," said Brad Casemore, research director for IDC. "The closest analogy is F5 Networks and its work in DevCentral with iRules."

In DevCentral, F5 customers build and share scripts that customize application delivery controllers. HP's app store is the next generation of that approach, Casemore said. "HP provides APIs and software development kits and provides ideas for how to use this technology. An SDN controller is a brain, but it needs something to do, applications to work with."

The notion of SDN applications for SDN controllers has been around since OpenFlow hype first took off a few years ago, but a marketplace for such applications hasn't yet developed.

"There's no clear-cut operating system [for OpenFlow] that you can find with [Microsoft] Windows-like quality," said Peter Christy, research director for 451 Research. "The problem in doing these componentized applications is that you have to agree on a whole bunch of the underpinning architecture and agree on how you want to think about networking and what your higher-level abstractions are."

"I'm really glad that HP is doing this," he said. "I like the approach. If you asked me to bet the rent money, I'd happily bet that it's going to be a trainwreck (editor's note: the interviewee requested the following added for clarification: not because of any failure of  HP’s but because open multi-party networking isn’t going to work in a typical enterprise). But I admire them for it. But HP is a big company and it has a long-term strategic commitment to SDN."

What can you download today in the HP SDN app store?

The HP SDN app store will initially have two homegrown HP apps and six third-party applications available for download and installation.

HP Network Protector is an SDN-based network access control application. HP Network Optimizer is the network policy and quality of service engine for Microsoft Lync.

BlueCat Networks' DNS Director is a DNS policy enforcement application that provides visibility into devices and applications through IP address management data. F5 Networks' BIG DDoS Umbrella is a denial of service protection application. GuardiCore's Defense Suite is an advanced threat detection application.

Ecode Networks' evolve is a network service provisioning orchestrator. Kemp Technologies' Adaptive Load Balancer application load balances a software-defined network end to end. Real Status' Hyperglance is an infrastructure monitoring and operations tool.

HP SDN app store doesn't require 100% OpenFlow networks

Although the applications run on an OpenFlow controller, a network operator doesn't need to run a 100% OpenFlow network to realize their value.

"They can take more of a hybrid approach," HP's Rapp said. "We use the SDN controller and OpenFlow as a mechanism to provide abstractions. The Network Optimizer app only makes changes at the edge, so only the edge would need to support OpenFlow. The core network would just honor [the application's QoS policies] with the QoS settings [the core] has been using for a very long time."

The prices and licensing methods for applications will vary.

HP's store will have four categories of applications (referred to as "circles") that will help network managers evaluate the level of validation and support each application has. The HP Circle contains applications built and tested by HP. The Premium Circle contains applications from leading vendors that were jointly tested by HP and its partners. The Partner Circle has applications that been self-tested by partners and reviewed by HP. The Community Circle offers community-developed and supported applications, which are primarily used for demos and proofs of concept.

Next Steps

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The role of northbound APIs in enabling SDN applications

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Is an app store the way you want to consume and derive value from SDN technology?