Get Your IT Team Up-to-Speed with These Must-Have SDN Skills

September 15th, 2015

Many companies are starting to adopt software defined networking in their enterprise networks as part of an effort to modernize aging infrastructure and speed the deployment of new services. Gartner estimates that SDN will be implemented in 10,000 corporate networks by the end of 2016. Market researcher IDC forecasts that worldwide sales of SDN technologies will grow from $960 million in 2014 to close to $4 billion by 2016.

Network architects and administrators need to advance their skillsets to include both networking and programming methodologies since SDN is all about enabling the network to become directly programmable. SDN enables administrators to dynamically support immediate application needs for user experience, bandwidth, quality of service and other IT requirements.

SDN skills are on a fast-growth trajectory as demonstrated by recent postings on job boards ranging from engineers and consultants to architects and standards experts:
  • has more than 2,200 jobs calling for SDN skills
  • has than 1,200 jobs that require SDN experience
  • has more than 1,000 job listings that require SDN expertise

SDN Building Blocks

CIOs need to make sure the IT team is preparing for SDN and ready to tackle network project upgrades. Here’s a list of key skills and expertise network professionals should acquire:

1. Understand SDN and its building blocks

It’s critical that network administrators learn about SDN technologies, architectures, and deployment solutions, because SDN will require new ways of thinking, with more emphasis on software than hardware.

2. Consider training and certification programs

There are several certification programs on the market. The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a non-profit organization focused on the adoption of standards-based, open SDN, offers ONF-Certified SDN Professional (OCSP) Program certification. The OCSP Program provides independent validation of both concept-level skills and technical-level engineering skills for professionals working in SDN development or deployment environments.

3. Understand how SDN can enhance business goals

SDN can offer compelling enterprise benefits, and the IT team will need to be able to convey those benefits to management. It’s probably too early to construct an ROI spreadsheet, but you have to be able to present a business case for SDN to your CIO, CFO and perhaps even the CEO.

4. Start with a small implementation project

This can help CIOs demonstrate the advantages of SDN and can pave the way for additional funding for future projects. Focus the implementation on a business use case that is near and dear to your company. SDN, for example, can foster more rapid application development and provisioning and when that’s demonstrated alongside mobile app development, business executives can see how SDN could expedite delivery of new products and services and lead to increased revenue streams.

5. Consider the cultural implications of SDN within the IT organization

IT leaders should take a page from today’s DevOps playbook and encourage collaboration among network engineers and software developers when planning, testing and executing SDN strategies and implementations. IT organizational charts may even need to be rewritten as roles and responsibilities change.

Learn about Masergy’s Software Defined Network Platform.

Jody Gilliam

With 15+ years of experience developing content-focused marketing strategies for technology companies, Jody crafts thought leadership articles and develops research ideas to support Masergy’s marketing initiatives. Her background in journalism serves her well, as she works closely with industry analysts and Masergy’s top leaders to publish engaging content. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English and communications from Southwestern University and her master’s degree in digital marketing from the University of Denver.

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