HP Opens Up SDN Marketplace

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is a technology approach that aims to provide more agility and flexibility to enterprise networks. HP also wants SDN to be an open ecosystem, on which its software partners can provide overlay network services.

Kash Shaikh, senior director, Product & Technical Marketing at HP Networking, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that HP aims to lower the barriers to adoption for SDN with its new open marketplace efforts.

The HP SDN App Store will enable HP partners to deliver and sell SDN applications to HP SDN customers. To help partners build SDN applications, HP is also providing an SDN Developer Kit (SDK) that provides tools and information needed to build SDN applications. Part of the HP SDN developer effort is also a virtual lab, that will let HP partners test out their SDN applications.

Shaikh explained that the HP SDN App Store will offer multiple tiers of applications, including free community software and enterprise-certified software. Among the certified software offerings, HP plans to have software from partners including Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. The SDN App Store will also provide access to applications that HP has built.

The entire SDN marketplace approach is predicated on a few key technologies. One of them is the HP Virtual Application Network (VAN) SDN Controller. HP first announced VAN SDN in February. At the time, HP also announced its Sentinel SDN security application. Sentinel will now become part of HP’s SDN App Store portfolio.

HP is also invested in the open source OpenFlow SDN protocol to control an SDN network. Shaikh noted that by using and supporting OpenFlow, HP can manage a heterogenous SDN network. As such, an enterprise doesn’t necessarily need an end-to-end HP Networking environment and can operate SDN across switches from multiple vendors, so long as they support OpenFlow.

“OpenFlow is at the infrastructure level, so if you are implementing an endpoint based application such as Sentinel, then it’s important to have as many switches as possible that support OpenFlow,” Shaikh said.

Standards-based OpenFlow also plays a key role in how the HP VAN SDN Controller can interoperate and manage a heterogeneous environment.

“As much as vendors can provide standards-based technologies like OpenFlow, it enables customers to mix and match network switches from different vendors,” Shaikh said.

Being standards-based expands both the interoperability of HP’s SDN controller and the opportunity for developers to build applications for it.

“All of our install base of over 25 million ports that support OpenFlow are open to developers,” Shaikh said. “At the same time, the fact that our controller supports OpenFlow traffic southbound means developers can run their OpenFlow application on any other switch from any other vendor, so that’s a pretty significant opportunity.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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