Pica8 officials are looking to streamline the software-defined networking process with a starter kit designed to make it easier for enterprises and service providers to bring the various pieces together.
The SDN Starter Kit, which was announced Dec. 9 and will be available Jan. 20, 2014, will address what Pica8 officials see as a key challenge to widespread adoption of software-defined networks (SDNs)—making it easier for businesses to get started down the road, according to Steve Garrison, the vendor's vice president of marketing.
Over the past couple of years, the market has been inundated with hype around SDN and a growing number of options from a range of vendors, Garrison said. However, most businesses lack expertise in SDN, which is a significant hurdle to getting these companies and service providers to fully embrace the technology.
"They understand the concept, but getting started takes time," he told eWEEK. "It's all about the how and the what. The why is pretty clear. … We're seeing all the big companies launching products, but they're assuming people understand what they need."
According to a survey of 100 IT professionals done by Pica8, enterprises are looking for complete, easy-to-deploy solutions they can use to evaluate SDN. They want something that can be implemented quickly and that doesn't demand a lot of time to bring together all equipment and test it. In addition, service providers are asking for help pulling the various pieces of SDN together.
The survey found that about 30 percent of organizations looking to implement SDN solutions are in the research and education areas, and have the expertise to implement the technologies themselves. However, another 20 percent are service providers—including public clouds and telecommunications companies—looking for help in selecting the necessary pieces to create an open platform, and the last 50 percent are enterprises, which don't have the time or skills to build the solution themselves but want to better understand the value of SDN to their businesses.
The SDN Starter Kit is designed to do just that, Garrison said. Pica8 offers products designed to enable organizations to leverage SDN solutions on white-box systems that are much cheaper and easier to run than more proprietary offerings from the likes of Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks, according to company officials.
The starter kit includes a CD that contains Ryu, an open-source network controller developed by NTT Labs, a programmable network tap based on SDN technology, a preconfigured Pica8 open switch that includes the vendor's PicOS operating system, which supports OpenFlow 1.3 and Open vSwitch v 1.10. Pica8 officials called these capabilities key building blocks for migrating to SDN.
In addition, the CD includes an open-source network intrusion detection and prevention system based on the Snort system and a quick-start guide that includes 10 steps for configuring a test bed and starting sampling network traffic.
It will start at $8,895.
The SND Starter Kit will enable organizations to cobble together the necessary pieces to get SDN up and running within three to six months. That will make it easier and faster for them to understand how SDN can help their companies and help ramp adoption, Garrison said.
"If the problem is that it's so hard to get to value, people will wait," he said.
Pica8's starter kit comes about three months after HP unveiled its own SDN Developer Kit, which is designed to make it easier for these third parties to build apps for HP's SDN platform, according to officials. They also said they expect the developer kit to help businesses embrace SDN.
"We are moving forward," Kash Shaikh, senior director of product and technical marketing for HP Networking, said at the time. "What we are doing … is essentially removing the barrier to widespread adoption of SDN."
Pica8 has made other efforts to make SDN easier to adopt. In December 2012, the company unveiled an SDN reference architecture for cloud service providers.
SDN is designed to make networks more flexible, automated and programmable by separating the network intelligence from the underlying hardware and putting it into a software-based controller. Established players like Cisco, HP and Juniper are rolling out their own offerings designed to make networks more programmable, while a range of startups, including Pica8, Plexxi and Embrane, also are looking to gain traction in the space by offering their own products, from controllers to network services and applications built atop the SDN infrastructure.
Analysts expect the SDN market to grow rapidly. IDC analysts in December 2012 predicted revenues will hit $3.7 billion by 2016, while Dell'Oro Group analysts in November said the SDN market will grow sixfold over the next five years.