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HP Debuts SDN App Store

There's a lot of talk about how software-defined networking can help enterprise networks become more agile and automated, but many experts say it's the applications built on top of SDN frameworks that make the technology really interesting.

For HP, developing applications for its SDN controller has been a major focus. A year ago, it released a software development kit (SDK), launched support services for developers, and unveiled plans for an SDN app store.

On Thursday, HP announced that the HP SDN App Store, where customers can buy apps written by third-party developers and HP, will be generally available October 1. HP will demonstrate the store and applications available in it next week at Interop New York.

At launch, the store will feature six applications from HP partners and two previously available apps from HP, HP Network Protector and HP Network Optimizer for Microsoft Lync.

The partner applications are BlueCat DNS Protector, Ecode evolve SDN orchestration software, F5 BIG DDoS Umbrella for distributed denial-of-service protection, GuardiCore Defense Suite, KEMP Adaptive Load Balancer Application, and Real Status Hyperglance cloud/SDN management platform.

HP said it has a strong pipeline of apps in development with about 30 partners actively developing apps for the store.

After announcing its plan for an SDN app store, HP held numerous developer events globally and focused on key areas of security, mobility and cloud, Jacob Rapp, senior manager of SDN marketing and interim global marketing leader for HP Networking, said in an interview. With the first set of apps, the company wanted to make sure it thoroughly tested and demonstrated them before bringing them to the store, he said.

HP is offering support for partner-developed apps in the store, and partners also have an option to offer services and support. HP also will consider adding services from vendors that want to provide support to third-party apps.

Mike Fratto, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, said the way HP is delivering SDN applications to customers is fairly unique. "They're certainly further along than their competitors in doing that," he said in an interview.

Like Cisco, which has stepped up its outreach to developers, HP is making its SDN APIs broadly available, which will foster integration, Fratto said.

HP might catch some criticism for the limited number of SDN applications available at initial launch, but the company has to start somewhere, he added.

"For any SDN vendor, it's not the number of apps they have, but it's the quality," he said. "So the challenge for HP and any SDN vendor will be getting partners to provide that integration."

HP said four categories of applications -- which it calls circles -- will be available in its SDN App Store. In addition to the HP-developed apps and partner apps that are reviewed by HP, there's a "premium circle" of top-selling apps jointly tested by HP and its partners, and a "community circle" of open, community-supported applications.