Trying to take a leading role in software-defined networking (SDN) for the enterprise, HP is announcing a software development kit (SDK) and an app store on Monday, just prior to the Interop show in New York.
The idea is to cultivate third-party applications to go with HP’s SDN offerings — and in that sense, it’s the SDK that is the real meat of the announcement. HP has 22 partners registered for the SDK, including Citrix, F5, Intel, Microsoft, and Riverbed, but the SDK is also catering to the “six guys in a garage” outfits, says Kash Shaikh, an HP director of marketing.
Particularly for those smaller players, the SDK is intended to make app building easier, and the store increases their chances of making any money off them. HP takes a cut, too, but a minority one; the model is similar to that of Apple’s app store, Shaikh says.
Due to be released in November, the SDK includes access to a virtual simulation lab, hosted by HP. The company also hopes to build a user community around the store — again, mimicking Apple — to help spread word about popular or particularly innovative apps.
Nothing about the store is particularly complicated, and it’s a step that a lot of people thought would happen eventually. (Or they joked about it, at least. Let’s face it; browsing an SDN app store doesn’t quite compare to downloading Angry Birds variants.) Possibly the most significant thing about Monday’s announcement is that HP gets to say it did this first.
To be fair, HP does bring some enterprise IT muscle in the form of developer support that will go along with the SDK and the store. (Specific help related to HP OpenFlow products won’t be available until the first half of 2014, however). “Anybody can put up an app store, but what enterprises really need is the support,” Shaikh says.
HP will provide support for its own apps and some of its partners’ apps, but not the over-the-transom apps contributed by the community — although HP will validate those before putting them up in the store.
The store won’t be going live until sometime in the first half of 2014, giving HP some time to populate it, because few things are as sad as a newly opened store with empty shelves.
HP does have a few SDN applications under its belt. For example, the company is very proud of the Sentinel security application that was shown at the Open Networking Summit in April, among other places. (It’s probably a good assumption that it will be shown off at Interop, too.)
HP’s own video tour of the app-store-in-progress can be seen here.