We are in the beginnings of a wave of software controlled network engineering and network virtualization concepts being introduced to the network. We are also beginning to see the benefits manifested through the implementation of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). As these technologies continue implementation providers will reap tremendous gains in elasticity, agility, and velocity. To properly leverage this new architecture, traditional IT programmers are collaborating with Network Engineers and Network Engineers are experimenting with their newly acquired software development skills. The end result of this collaborative effort will be some amazing ideas which will then need to be built accommodate the scale of the network. A major question involved in this evolution is, should everyone reinvent the wheel and have their own version of the same app?
Google has Play, Apple has the App Store, and Microsoft has the Windows Store. Application storefronts have done extremely well, both for vendors and consumers. Fitness, productivity, retail, customer portals, and so on, but we’re not here to talk about mobile apps; just that the ecosystem those players have built is brilliant. So why stop there? Why not create an ecosystem that shares some DNA with the one built by Google, Apple , Microsoft? With standard northbound and southbound protocols, it’s just like writing an application for any other OS, mobile or otherwise. Everyone from the big vendors down to up and coming startups could have an opportunity to develop and publish their applications for consumption by service providers.
There’s been discussion about this concept in the past. Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of ONUG Nick Lippis mentioned in a closing statement at the OpenDaylight summit 2014 that he too would like to see an SDN app store ecosystem. This meshes perfectly with the open source movement that is driving many of the innovations in this space. Unlike any other area in the service provider space, the SDN/NFV movement is leveraging open source like they never have before. This community ecosystem lends itself perfectly to the creation of app stores to enable service providers access to the flood of innovation that is on its way.
The hype around SDN & NFV has been injected to their business cases, use cases, and architectural performance challenges. ONF, ODL, ONUG, ETSI, and the rest of the acronym heavy crowd seems to have their plates full. We’ll need a framework for publishing the apps to the masses. Consumers are going to want to know the performance behind the applications, cost model, licensing, and so on. This will definitely need a standards group to drive the initiative. It’s not a matter of if, but when this ecosystem gets created. Some are well ahead of the curve already…