Top 6 training priorities for SDN adoption

If you’re making the transition to software-defined networking — or considering it — you’ll need to upgrade your skills. Here’s how to approach this challenge and determine training priorities, according to a survey of early adopters.

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The transition toward software-defined networks will mark a significant evolution in the enterprise network, but first enterprises must overcome some significant training barriers.

While preparing for the transition toward SDN, organizations will need to determine and pursue training priorities. To determine how they should approach this challenge, Enterprise Management Associates recently conducted a study of 150 early adopters of SDN to examine their approach and share what they’ve learned. Here is how they prioritized SDN training:

1) Cloud management

EMA’s survey revealed that the No. 1 training priority for SDN early adopters is the development of cloud management systems expertise, with 47 per cent reporting their networking teams were learning to use such systems, such as OpenStack and CloudStack. For networking professionals who haven’t upgraded their software programing and development skills, this will become necessary as they adopt SDN.

2) Network protocols

Knowledge of SDN network protocols was a top priority for 39 per cent of respondents, though the exact protocols will be dependant on whether the organization chooses to implement data centre SDN overlay, OpenFlow-based SDN or another SDN solution. There are a variety of network protocols currently available with more emerging every day, but network professionals only need to concern themselves with the protocol their organization chooses to pursue.

3) Software training

Soon there will be nowhere left to run from software training. Of those early adopters, 37 per cent cited programming skills and 36 per cent cited software development skills as top training priorities. The EMA survey also found that software skills are a top priority, specifically for communications service providers. Network professionals will be required to write code in order to support and manage SDN, and software development skills will be necessary to better manage the functionality of SDN networks.

4) Skills integration

Another key priority is the integration of SDN skills with broader network and service delivery skills. Since SDN will coexist with many legacy networks, networking teams need to learn how to manage both networks simultaneously to provide end-to-end services. The good news for IT staff is that a dependence on legacy systems could imply a dependence on legacy employees as well.

5) Vendor SDN certifications

While early adopters are placing lower priority on SDN certifications, with only 28 per cent considering it a priority, certifications will increase in value as more companies adopt SDN.

6) Vendor-neutral SDN certification

The market for vendor-neutral SDN certification is still emerging, which is perhaps why only 24 per cent of those surveyed considered it a training priority.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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