Open source—not to mention Big Data—gained momentum this week in the world of software-defined networking (SDN), where Internet2 announced selections for its 2013 Innovative Application Awards program. The contest, which began in May, supports development of open source code for Internet2's 100G network using SDN and OpenFlow standards.

The announcement was made at Tuesday at the US Ignite Application Summit. Internet2 was joined by Juniper Networks (JNPR), Ciena (CIEN) and Brocade (BRCD), all of which are also involved in the contest, in announcing the eight proposals that the sponsors have selected as finalists in the competition. The proposals, each of which centers around an open source end user application that will take advantage of the Internet2 network, will receive funding starting now to bring their projects to completion by early fall.

While all of the proposals involve SDN in one way or another, and most were developed by academic institutions, they represent a diverse set of applications that cater to a range of different tasks. One, called Netvisor, is a platform to help researchers build virtual networks to meet the needs of their projects. Another, Software Defined Networking (SDN) based Application for Efficient Video Streaming, promises to do exactly what its lengthy title implies: Optimize the delivery of streaming video over SDN platforms.

Big Data also stands out as a common thread in some of the proposals. Black Box Congestion Control, proposed by Mo Dong of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will receive support through the contest to transfer large amounts of data over the network more efficiently and reliably. A similar proposal with the name Elf: Network-Enhanced Data Prefetching Middleware for Geo-Distributed MapReduce "aims to provide a solution that enhances the functionality of MapReduce by reserving network bandwidth and performing intelligent data transfers," with the goal of assisting in collaboration between scientists.

The complete list of proposals is available online.

While the projects receiving support through the program may make total sense only to geeks, the kind of work the competition is fostering is likely to have important implications down the line for the channel as a whole. They're forging new paths in SDN-powered communications, and are contributing to open source, Big Data and education as they do so.