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Will SDN Leave Network Engineers Jobless?

Software-defined networking will shake up the network engineer career path, so plan now to broaden your skills, an Interop panel of experts advised.

All the talk of software-defined networking and automation in the industry has generated some high angst among network engineers, who wonder if SDN will put them out of work. At Interop Las Vegas (run by UBM Tech, InformationWeek's parent company), a panel addressed this anxiety and the future of networking pros in a session with a tongue-in-cheek title, "Will SDN Make Me Homeless?"

While the panel of networking experts didn't see SDN as gloom and doom for networking engineers, they agreed that it will require an expansion of skills and a shift to becoming more of an IT generalist.

Networking pros are used to following a specific vendor's certification path to jumpstart their careers, but with SDN there's no such path, said Ethan Banks. Without knowing where the industry is going long term with SDN platforms, network engineers need to broaden their skills beyond networking, he said.

For example, learn service chaining or take a virtual firewall and set it up at the edge of your network. Work with the virtualization and storage teams in your organization, Banks advised.

Read the rest of this story on Network Computing.

Marcia Savage is the managing editor for Network Computing, and has been covering technology for 15 years. She has written and edited for CRN and spent several years covering information security for SC Magazine and TechTarget. Marcia began her journalism career in daily ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/7/2014 | 6:45:41 PM
The future is clouded
In the age of virtualization, generalists should be forced -- or force themselves -- to specialize in a current problem. Specialists, on the other hand, need to be pushed (or voluntarily extend themselves) outside their area of specialty. The old truths of data center operations are falling away and being replaced with something new. Not suggested here but a experience that would stand both generalists and specialists in good stead: learn operations in the public cloud.
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