Find out about labs, certification programs, and training courses that offer ways to learn about software-defined networking.
Networking professionals hear all the time that they need to learn new skills to keep up with a rapidly changing industry. On-the-job training would be a practical option, but if your company hasn't plunged into software-defined networking – and plenty haven't -- how do you expand your knowledge when you're mired in CLI?
As it turns out, the options for learning new approaches to networking are growing as SDN adoption gradually expands beyond hyper-scale Internet companies and service providers. This spring, the Linux Foundation rolled out a software-defined networking training course to address what the foundation described as a skills gap for networking pros. In launching the SDN training, the foundation said many network engineers lack experience with software virtualization.
Also this spring, Juniper Networks expanded its OpenLab program, providing its customers and partners with more locations to develop and test out SDN and NFV. Meanwhile, Cisco has revised its venerable CCIE program to include network programmability and other emerging technologies.
Opportunities to learn about SDN are expanding as the SDN market continues to grow. According to IHS, the global market of SDN Ethernet switches, controllers and SD-WAN products used in the data center and enterprise was up 82% in 2015 compared to the previous year. IHS estimates the market will reach $15.6 billion by 2020.
As students prepare to head back to classes, why not consider this a good time to focus on education that can help boost your IT networking career? Continue on to checkout some educational opportunities.
Linux Foundation SDN training
In June, the Linux Foundation launched an SDN online training course that it developed with its OpenDaylight open networking project. The self-paced course is an introduction to SDN fundamentals designed to provide network admins and engineers with the skills for managing an SDN deployment – whether that's based on OpenDaylight or another technology. Sessions in the course, which costs $149, include Yang, Open vSwitch, network programmability, and OpenFlow.
Juniper Networks this summer expanded its OpenLab program to seven locations, giving its customers and partners more places to build and test SDN and NFV technologies. Juniper said the new regional centers will provide hands-on training, workshops and competitions. The company's first OpenLab center, which opened in 2012 in Bridgewater, N.J., has hosted more than 150 technology and programmability training sessions, and six SDN "hackathons" involving 17 universities.
The new locations – Sunnyvale, Calif., Amsterdam, London, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney -- are expected to open through the end of this year.
(Image: Juniper Networks)
Cisco certifications and training
Cisco is updating its expert-level certifications to incorporate emerging technologies such as network programmability, IoT, and cloud, and started making these changes with the CCIE Data Center in July. Cisco also is refreshing its Network Programmability Specialist certifications and made its new Designing and Implementing Cisco Network Programmability exam available for the first time at the recent Cisco Live in Las Vegas.
Cisco has put a lot of emphasis on its DevNet program, which it formally launched a couple years as a way to reach out to developers but also to provide network engineers with training in network programmability. The DevNet Zone at Cisco Live included coding sessions, hands-on workshops, and learning labs.
Networking company Netronome launched Open-NFP (Open Network Function Processing) last fall as a forum for open research in datapath offloads and acceleration for SDN and NFV applications. This spring, the forum launched a cloud-based lab focused on the open source P4 programming language that provides network engineers, developers, and researchers with tools to develop and test SDN and NFV applications-related data plane code on hardware.
The lab, which users access over the web, uses Netronome's integrated development environment connected to a pool of servers with its Agilio intelligent server adapters; the IDE supports development tools from the P4 Language Consortium. The consortium describes P4 as "a language for expressing how packets are processed by the pipeline of a networking forwarding element" such as a switch. Pictured above standing next to the lab with two Netronome interns is Dr. Bapi Vinnakota, Netronome director of technology and alliances and managing director of Open-NFP.
Open-NFP also launched a series of free webinars focused on P4 programming techniques, applications, and usage.
Princeton SDN course
Princeton University's software-defined networking course will be offered through Coursera with enrollment beginning in September. The course is taught by Nick Feamster, a computer science professor at Princeton, who previously taught online SDN courses for Georgia Tech. The Coursera description of the Princeton course pretty thin, saying only that it will teach you how SDN is "changing the way communications networks are managed, maintained, and secured."
Open Networking Foundation SDN certification
The ONF launched its vendor-neutral SDN certification program in 2014. The program features two certifications, one for engineers and the other for sales and marketing professionals. The beta exam for the ONF-Certified SDN Engineer (OCSE) was offered at the NFV World Congress in April and the final exam is scheduled for release in August. The final exam for the associate certification launched in January.
The OCSE exam has taken longer than the ONF originally planned. "It is highly important to us that the exams we offer, as part of the OCSP Program, are representative of the SDN knowledge, skills, and abilities required for professionals by the networking industry. ONF made the decision to spend additional time in beta testing the OCSE final exam," ONF Director of Technical Programs Rick Bauer told Network Computing. "Certifications must meet industry needs, and in SDN, those needs are continuously emerging and evolving."
SDN training programs
The ONF has more than 15 training and testing partners for its certification program, including Perpetual Solutions, which offers both SDN and NFV training. Perpetual Solutions counts BT, AT&T, and Ericsson among its customers. Another SDN training provider (and ONF partner) is SDN Essentials, which offers vendor-neutral training and teams with vendors such as Big Switch Networks, Juniper Networks, and NEC to provide training on their SDN products. SDN Essentials was founded by Doug Marschke, who built and sold Proteus Networks and also created many of Juniper's certification exams.