This month HP launched the HP SDN App Store, the first of its kind for the networking industry. We spoke with Jacob Rapp, global marketing leader, HP Networking, about how HP believes the go-to-market platform will spur innovation and help customers uncover the business value of SDN.
SDNCentral: Congratulations on your recent launch. Why did HP create an enterprise app store for SDN?
Rapp: Thank you! We feel like we made history this month when the HP SDN App Store was launched. It all brought us back to when we designed SDN in 2007 in collaboration with Stanford. SDN is really the separation of the control and the data plane, which broke down the integrated model for networking and created this new layer – the application plane. This new plane allows any developer to program the network in a way that was impossible before.
Until SDN, only the big infrastructure vendors who had exclusive control over their closed appliance model could control the innovation process. We wanted to further break down the closed model and encourage networking innovation for the entire industry by giving our customers a central location where they can browse, discover, buy, and download new applications in a seamless way.
IDC predicts the market for SDN network apps will reach $1.1 billion by 2017. The HP SDN App Store provides a place for integrated and validated SDN applications, as well as the consulting and support
Why is the SDN App Store relevant now?
SDN has matured to the point that it’s time to use the technology to solve real customer problems. We wanted to help developers bring solutions to market and expose those solutions to the world.
HP’s strategy always has been to adopt open standards and make sure our customers are not locked in to one vendor. We’ve been involved with SDN since the technology’s inception, when we worked with Stanford on developing OpenFlow. For the first few years, we concentrated on building the core components of the technology and transitioning our entire portfolio of networking equipment to be SDN-enabled.
Now that we have those components, it’s time to transition from building the technology and protocol – although it will continue – to actually delivering solutions to customers.
The store concept for networking was born when we realized innovators needed a place to connect with customers and easily share new apps. Network application vendors now have a scalable, open marketplace to monetize their innovations.
What can people find in the App Store today?
At launch we had eight curated applications: two built by HP and six by our ecosystem partners. The biggest challenges facing IT today revolve around security, cloud, big data, and mobility. The products in our apps store address these issues in new and innovative ways with solutions that are enterprise-ready.
Customers want to reimagine their security infrastructure, without adding yet another security layer. The network is at the intersection and connection point of all security and is the place where multi-layer security strategies can be simplified without compromise.
Our customers want to know how they can move to a self-service IT model, where IT becomes a key asset to business agility. The network turns into a source of competitive advantage for our customers, while providing not only the ultra -simplified usability, but also the revolutionary application insight by combining virtual and physical layers. It is not only about speed, it’s also about differentiated services.
HP and its ecosystem partners are the only ones in the industry talking about user experience. We are not just optimizing the data center, we are also providing application driven networking to enhance user experience, while addressing security challenges of BYOD. It is becoming table stakes for end users to have the same experience on wired and wireless networking.
How are the apps tested?
We offer four different categories of applications defined by their support and test process.
First is the HP Circle, which is for applications built and tested by HP. Second, the Premium Circle contains top-selling applications that were jointly tested by HP and its partners. Third, the Partner Circle is for applications that have been self-tested by HP partners and reviewed by HP. And the final category, the Community Circle, offers open-access and community-supported applications to demonstrate concept or research SDN applications.
How do developers get started?
We designed the app store to be easy to use for our developer community. We created the SDN Dev Center site that contains all the useful information developers need to get going.
The site has free development and test tools; our SDK, which contains all the learning materials needed to build applications; and a community forum for peer-based support and help. The site also provides access to a free, 60-day trial of our VAN SDN Controller, which has more than 100 APIs to help create new networking solutions.
When developers are close to having a commercial app, we have all the processes in place for them to become an HP AllianceOne partner. Partners control the collateral, video demo, and pricing strategy of their apps.
How do you envision networking will evolve over the next few years? What role will the App Store play?
Rapid software development and customer innovation are becoming the new norm in networking, and we all need to adapt to this reality. We look at the network as source of competitive advantage, rather than just table stakes. Networking will have to move beyond the traditional, closed model to push innovation and achieve this advantage. The HP SDN App Store is bridging the gap between innovators and the customers who need that innovation to differentiate.