Vendors such as Juniper Networks that are open sourcing their SDN controllers are pursuing a poor strategy that misses the point of the technology, HP representatives said this week.

At the Interop conference and exhibition in New York where HP announced its new SDN SDK and App Store, HP officials were asked why the company was not following suit with what Juniper and the OpenDaylight are doing with SDNs, and what appears to be a trend in the industry: making controllers freely available through open source outlets.

"Vendors open sourcing controllers have it wrong," said Mike Banic, vice president of global marketing for HP Networking. "A vendor has to validate and provide services for" enterprise-class SDNs.

"Juniper is missing where the value is," Banic said.

That value resides in the applications that utilise the SDN controller to automate operations in an SDN, and align network operations to services the application needs, HP says. Open sourcing the SDN controller is passing the burden and investment of ensuring enterprise-class functionality, reliability and performance on to the customer, the company says.

"You're shifting a new burden out there," Banic says. "Customers need something they can develop on."

Juniper also offers a commercial version of its Contrail SDN controller for a cost that the company will provide integration services and support for. The open source version of Contrail will only receive updates, Juniper has said.

What Juniper and HP have in common in SDNs is not knowing where, when or why customers would use the OpenDaylight open source SDN controller and framework. Both companies are members of OpenDaylight Juniper is a highest-ranking Platinum member but both companies shrug off its potential impact on customer SDN deployments.

"I don't know why customers would use the OpenDaylight controller," said Bethany Mayer, executive vice president and general manager of HP Networking. "Using an open source controller in the enterprise can be tricky and dangerous."

HP is participating in OpenDaylight to help standardise a northbound API between the network infrastructure and orchestration systems to assist in the software programmability of the network, Mayer and Banic said.

HP is charging only $500 for its Virtual Application Network SDN Controller. Juniper is charging $1,000 to $1,700 for the commercial version of Contrail.

HP also says its SDN approach differs from other vendors' in that HP is looking for cross-enterprise programmability to facilitate operational automation. Other vendors are targeting the data centre or cloud providers, or both.