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Meru launches wireless SDN app store and platform

Meru Center is the Wi-Fi vendor's new platform for running wireless SDN apps and consolidating its own management applications.

Wi-Fi vendor Meru Networks announced a new platform that allows engineers to run networking applications on top of its wireless LAN controller and OpenFlow-based SDN controllers.

Meru Center consolidates the management applications that Meru offers for its wireless infrastructure, and it has an integrated app store from which network managers can download additional wireless SDN apps that can run on an OpenFlow controller. Aside from the existing management apps that Meru has ported into Meru Center, the company offers two SDN apps for download so far.

But Meru will need more apps to really find success with Meru Center, said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. The company will especially need to work with third-party vendors to develop apps for its app store.

"They need Meru Center to be something that third-party developers want to work with them on," Kerravala said. "It's a bit of a battle because no one wants to work with a company that has a small market share. But they need to work with those developers to create some volume.

Meru Center is an application platform layer that interacts with both Meru's wireless LAN controller and with OpenFlow controllers, said Manish Rai, vice president of corporate marketing. "There are some applications … that talk directly to our wireless controller, and then there are SDN apps for which there will be an SDN controller between the application and the Meru controller. So we talk to the app via the SDN controller using OpenFlow."

Meru currently partners with NEC for integration with its ProgrammableFlow OpenFlow controller. Meru has also started working with the open source SDN OpenDaylight Project.

Meru Center ships with four Meru-specific network management applications preinstalled -- Network Manager, Service Assurance, Spectrum Manager and Meru Connect for guest access. These applications all interact directly with Meru's wireless controller and most Meru customers already use versions of them to operate their Meru networks. Meru Center integrates them on a single management platform with single sign-on and automated provisioning of application resources.

The vendor will continue to support the legacy versions of its management applications, but it will encourage customers to migrate over to the versions hosted on Meru Center, Rai said.

Meru Center: A platform for wireless SDN apps

The new platform's SDN app store will initially have two applications available for download -- Meru Collaborator and Personal Bonjour. These apps, like other SDN apps Meru has planned, are designed to operate across wired and wireless infrastructure, as long as that infrastructure supports OpenFlow.

Meru had previously announced the collaborator app as a plug-in for the OpenDaylight SDN controller. The OpenFlow app optimizes wired and wireless OpenFlow infrastructure for Microsoft Lync.

Personal Bonjour is a BYOD application that allows end users to register an Apple device and enable it as a personal area network. It's ideal for a university setting, where students may want to create such a network in their dorm rooms.

Apps downloaded from the store will also benefit from the single sign-on and automated provisioning capabilities of Meru Center.

"When you download apps from the app store, Meru Center makes sure of allocating all resources -- the right CPUs, provisioning the right database and storage resources to have those apps up and running," Rai said. "It provides single sign-on, backup and restore, and a dashboard for viewing them."

Next Steps

The Open Networking Foundation forms a working group to tackle mobile and wireless SDN

Dig Deeper on Software-defined networking

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