SUBMISSION BY:  Andy Gremett




Software-defined networks with programmable network components are changing the way we design and build networks. New approaches to network infrastructure design and support will require knowledgeable people for implementation. Without network professionals who understand both traditional network design and the advantages of a programmable network, many implementations may fail to reach their potential.


Cisco is committed to making sure that network engineers, designers, and support staff have the knowledge and understanding they need to stay relevant and help their employers with this shift in network infrastructure. As you prepare for this change, read all you can, talk to your colleagues, and get trained on designing, implementing, and supporting the network infrastructure with software-defined networks that utilize programmable network components.


For many, the network infrastructure has become a stagnant field. Relatively small incremental changes have been the biggest influence over the last few years. For networking infrastructure professionals, the challenges and design changes on their plate have been very straightforward. Some networking professionals continue to use planning and design frameworks authored years ago. However, software-defined networks with programmable network components are changing the landscape dramatically.


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Software-defined networking (SDN) is typically defined as an evolutionary approach to network design and functionality based on the ability to programmatically modify the behavior of network devices. Solutions typically aim to bring to life the entire value of an intelligent network. This type of open network allows network infrastructure professionals the ability to truly address the multiple layers of the network in a new manner. You may have read about the ability to control or influence network layers, which include transport, forwarding plane, control plane, network services, and orchestration. Understanding these layers and their interactions requires additional knowledge not often provided in typical network training.


Along with the need to understand the networking aspects of SDN, networking job roles are changing and evolving. This evolution is natural. Companies want to hire qualified candidates who can help them solve their problems and do it with an infrastructure that is more forward or future-facing. These new roles focus more on complex services and architectures rather than systems.


Preparing network professionals for this shift in job roles is important both for enterprises and for companies like Cisco who offer SDN solutions. In addition, as job roles change and employees realign, redeployment of trained employees becomes a competitive differentiator. Companies that can successfully train their staff and use the valuable resources they have on hand can implement solutions faster and gain a competitive advantage over companies that tend to staff up, layoff, and then hire again.


By offering a comprehensive curriculum focused on the new SDN-driven job roles, Cisco can help companies continue to expand and grow. Cisco has recently announced network progamability training that addresses four industry job roles that will continue to evolve. The new network architects, or network programmability designers, will build on the foundation laid by this curriculum and enhance their skill set to be able to offer new opportunities to customers, cooperating with network programmability developers and network programmability engineers to build new open architectures. In addition, the new job role of Business Application Developer will develop business applications, leveraging the programmability and capability of the new open network environment.


As you look to programmable networks and SDN solutions, don’t forget that training is a valuable part of the deployment model as well as support. Start now by identifying where and how you will train your staff or yourself as the network continues to evolve.


What changes to your job do you see coming?