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ONF Develops SDN Certification

It's still early days for software-defined networking, but SDN certifications have begun to emerge.

For example, Cisco has developed training that focuses on network programmability services and architectures, with new certifications planned for this fall. HP's certification and training program includes the HP SDN Learning Journey. VMware has NSX training and certification classes based on its NSX network virtualization platform. These classes are scheduled to become full certification programs this fall.

Now the Open Network Foundation has embarked on an effort to create a vendor-neutral SDN certification. The industry group, which promotes SDN and OpenFlow, launched its ONF-Certified SDN Professional Program on Tuesday.

Rick Bauer, technical program manager for the ONF, said the goal is to provide a vendor-neutral foundation in SDN that is recognized by prospective employers. He said the program doesn't intend to compete with vendor-specific certifications, and he stressed that his group isn't going into the training business.

"We see this as very complementary," he told us. "Our goal is to create a certification that's so compelling that it would be the first in the exam architecture of all these [other] certifications."

He compared the ONF SDN certification program to a basic freshman English course requirement in college.

The program is just getting off the ground now, but ONF envisions leveraging the training programs being offered by ONF members, academic institutions, and others for its certification program.

This week, the ONF is meeting with educators, hiring managers, and others to discuss potential certification requirements. It will circulate a draft exam blueprint and then issue a final blueprint that training companies can use to develop curricula, Bauer said.

The program is planning initially on two certifications: one geared for engineers and the other for sales and marketing professionals. Designed for entry-level networking pros, the ONF-Certified SDN Engineer will certify technical knowledge of SDN technologies and architectures. The ONF-Certified SDN Associate will aim to provide sales pros with an understanding of SDN concepts.

Exams for the two certifications are slated to be available in early 2015.

"Our goal is to help [drive] the commercial adoption of SDN," Bauer said. "We think that means getting not only the protocols and switches ready, but the people side, as well."

He said the ONF SDN certifications will cover a range of technologies, including OpenFlow and other protocols, OpenDaylight software, and OpenStack integration. "The goal is to be vendor neutral and technology inclusive."

Formed in 2011 by technology firms such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, the nonprofit ONF now counts more than 140 companies as members.

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