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SDN Certification: The Next Job Requirement

Given the changing landscape in networking, you might (and should) be asking what you can do to match your knowledge, skills, and abilities to industry demand. The push toward software-defined networking (SDN) will require a diversification of skills to stay current. Perhaps that is exactly what you are considering -- building on your knowledge by furthering your education.

If so, you're in great company. According to Tech Pro Research's recent report, "The Future of IT Jobs: Critical Skills and Obsolescent Roles," 77% of respondents plan to further their IT education to avoid their skills becoming obsolete. A majority of respondents (57%) are planning to earn IT certifications within or outside of their current job roles. Ten percent are looking into adding a Bachelor's or Master's degree in IT, and another 10% are planning to get a non-technical degree.

The results of this survey also stave off media reports of the possibility of IT jobs disappearing due to technical advances. According to the report, increased complexities are creating new opportunities and generating demand for skilled IT professionals. Emerging SDN technologies will continue to provide opportunities for both current workers and new workers with an interest in getting into the field. IT roles and skills will continue to evolve as networks evolve.

While it is extremely important to note that skills add to the value of an IT professional, the focus of those skills is equally important. For an engineer, it will be essential to acquire technical and engineering-level knowledge of SDN technologies, architectures, and deployment solutions (and ideally add software skills).

By fully grasping the concepts of SDN and gaining additional knowledge pertaining to the industry, network engineers will not only be able to fulfill their job functions, but also be well-versed on the entire network and be in a position to help their employers understand the benefits of SDN. At the same time, an entry-level IT, sales, or marketing professional may require a basic understanding of SDN technologies. The bottom line is that developing the right background for the right job is necessary when adapting to the new SDN environment.

As the SDN ecosystem evolves, the required skillset for working with SDN models is emerging, and certification programs present the opportunity to address the needs of vendors looking for suitable candidates to fill specific roles.

Many companies are introducing vendor-specific training in SDN. Hewlett-Packard has a certification of its own and a training program that focuses on the HP SDN Learning Journey. VMware has developed NSX training and certification classes based on its network virtualization platform. Cisco has also developed training that concentrates on network programmability services and architectures, with new certifications on the way. Training and certifications are increasing in demand and availability.

With this call for SDN education and skills validation at an all-time high, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) recently announced the development of a vendor-neutral certification program. The ONF-Certified SDN Professional (OCSP) Program will provide SDN practitioners with an industry-recognized standard by which individual knowledge and skills can be evaluated. The program is designed to provide a strong foundation of vendor-neutral, conceptual, and technical credentials in open SDN. The program can stand alone or integrate with and complement vendor certifications in networking technologies and programming languages.

SDN skills certification will no doubt become not only important but required. IT professionals will need to have the necessary knowledge and abilities to be successful in their changing positions. They must become SDN experts. What better way to validate your abilities and increase your marketability to current and potential employers than to certify your SDN skills?

How do you plan to advance your education in preparation for SDN? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.