SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Developers test code before they deploy it to make sure it runs right. Now a startup wants to help companies test next-generation applications to run on top of their data center networks, so they don’t inadvertently wreak havoc.
The startup, Friesty, initially launched in Daejeon, Korea, earlier this year. Its founder and chief executive, Ki-Hyuk Nam, was on hand at the Open Networking Summit here today to promote it.
He has built software to inspect the code of applications meant to run on software-defined networks (SDN), like firewalls, load balancers, and other elements that can be programmed and controlled easily.
“It’s well known in software engineering that if you detect errors at the development stage, then it’s less than one-hundredth of the cost [of fixing an accident] than after the deployment,” Nam told VentureBeat. So it makes sense to do something similar for network applications. Nam said he came up with the idea while working at Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute.
Nam faces a number of challenges as he scales the business. Most networks in existence today move data around using proprietary operating systems on expensive data center hardware. SDN architectures pull out the control of the hardware and typically run it on standard servers. That opens up many interesting opportunities, but SDN is still nascent . Vendors like Cisco and VMware are in the early stages of commercialization. The average SDN startup today has a handful of customers.
As a result, the market size for what Nam is working on isn’t particularly huge right now. And that’s especially true because Nam is initially focusing on applications for data center switches that run the OpenFlow protocol. Not every switch vendor embraces OpenFlow. But it’s still early, so perhaps as the market picks up, Friesty will be among the first to benefit.
Once engineers are ready to deploy an application, they can throw it up to Friesty, which will see if the application will run on all the OpenFlow-enabled switches running in a network. Errors get flagged, and a notification pops up in Friesty’s software. If there are no errors, the application gets deployed.
A couple of telecommunications companies are seeing how the verification product runs in their data centers, Nam said.
He’s planning to make the verification product available in the summer. And he’s looking to open an office in the San Francisco Bay Area, in close proximity to investors and other SDN startups.
But Friesty incorporated just two weeks ago, with two employees, Nam said. Perhaps it will release the software under an open-source license. It could collaborate with existing SDN startups like Big Switch to get the verification software running inside more data centers, Nam said.
The focus at this point is just communicating what the startup is about. “Friesty equals verification — and that’s our goal,” Nam said.