Light Reading

SDN: A Particular Set of Skills Much in Demand

Dan O'Shea
2/11/2014
50%
50%

Early on in its existence, software-defined networking (SDN) was feared to be a job killer, a technology transition so radical and so centered on automation that teams of networking engineers with legacy training could be shown the door.

Today, however, we're more often seeing the positive flipside of this fear: The SDN transition is looking very much like the ultimate career opportunity for engineers with the aura of SDN expertise.

Across the industry, it is becoming apparent that there is growing demand for technologists with a particular set of skills. (What, you thought Liam Neeson was talking about something else? It was SDN, man).

The latest big name SDN expert to change employers is Tom Nadeau, the SDN author and open source player, who has just migrated from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) to Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD).

At Brocade, he'll join former Juniperians (Juniperites?) Benson Schliesser, who recently joined Brocade in the same-name role of distinguished engineer, and Lloyd Carney, who became Brocade's CEO last year. (See Brocade Poaches Key SDN Exec From Juniper, IP Veteran Joins Brocade's SDN/NFV Team, and Ex-Juniper Exec Now Running Brocade.)

Sure, these moves away from Juniper also can be attributed to the fact that things are in a state of flux, to put it mildly, at Juniper right now. Juniper also lost executives Doug Murray and Joe Palazola in recent months to Big Switch Networks . (See Investor to Juniper: 'You Suck', Juniper CEO Preps New Roadmap, and Big Switch Names Palazola Operations Chief.)

However, these moves also fit into the broader trend of SDN-driven job jumps. For example, well-regarded technologist David Meyer left old-school Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) last year for Brocade's warmer embrace of SDN. Also Prashant Gandhi and Jeffrey Wang departed Cisco for Big Switch. (See Cisco SDN Expert Leaves for Brocade, Big Switch Recruits VP from Cisco, and Big Switch Appoints VP of Engineering.)

SDN may not be the job killer it was once thought to be. It certainly could greatly change how networks are operated and managed today, but it can't get there on its own. There are major roles for engineers to play in designing the SDN-enhanced networks of tomorrow, and figuring out the rules and process that will guide their operation, as well as in the evolving standards and open networking communities. Many of the recent hirings have involved big names, but all of this activity also should serve as a motivation for ambitious networking engineers out there. Put the time and effort into learning everything you can about SDN. Then, update that resume.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/14/2014 | 1:06:29 PM
Re: Not just vendor jobs
@mbushong, I agree with you overall with one exception...underlying infrastructure and its attending support systems.  That will continue to require some expertise in order to make sure that it not only works but supports all of the great things happening on top of it.  Sure a lot of specialized hardware will go away and one will no longer need that knowledge, but things like fiber, lasers, etc that are required to haul all the bytes around will need to keep improving, evolving, etc and so will the support systems that take care of their care and feeding. 

So early adopters...bring in the big SPIT bucks, hardware/laser/connector engineers...you go get-em too!
komatineni
50%
50%
komatineni,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/11/2014 | 8:52:15 PM
Re: Reminds me of how things were when we first started using E-Booking Services
I think so. But the scale of SDN hiring in SP environment is dependant on their strategy. Ironically I see majority of developing countries looking at vendors to 'offer innovative SDN stuff'. Also there is a big confusion on what is needed for SDN/NFV environemnt. A DC person with VM/Virtualization background able to design, manage a EPC? Or is it good to train EPC engineer with VM basic and expect him to work on?. 

 
@mbushong
50%
50%
@mbushong,
User Rank: Moderator
2/11/2014 | 12:09:35 PM
Not just vendor jobs
I suspect the same dynamic will play out (though more delayed) in customer environments. When the SDN solutions start hitting the market with a bit more force, customers looking to deploy will be actively looking for architects and engineers capable of pulling off such a transition. Those network engineers who have experience will be able to cash in. The early opportunies will come before there is much supply, meaning those in the know will be able to take advantage.

That said, I don't want to predict the demise of network engineering. SDN is obviously predicated on the existence of a performant underlying infrastructure. But the biggest opportunities will be for a new breed of engineer.

Mike Bushong (@mbushong)

Plexxi
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
2/11/2014 | 10:50:18 AM
Re: Reminds me of how things were when we first started using E-Booking Services
This transition could be even more significant for the service providers. Will they start hiring more known SDN/NFV experts into their companies as they get deeper into the SDN/NFV transition. Vendors like Pica8 and HP have developed SDN starter kits to help with the learning curve, but might be time for carriers to take a closer look at the skills sets of their engineering teams.
Ashu001
100%
0%
Ashu001,
User Rank: Lightning
2/11/2014 | 9:32:50 AM
Reminds me of how things were when we first started using E-Booking Services
Dan,

Reading your Article I was reminded about the first Time Online Booking/Ticketing Systems were launched in the US and then Globally.

It was said that most Travel Agents would lose their jobs to Automation and it would be much harder for them to find new ones.

Fast-Forward to today and What one sees is that a Significant number of these Travel Agents have been absorbed by the Likes of Expedia,etc.

Also,companies[I am talking about Independent Travel Agencies here];have worked much-much harder to retain existing Customers especially Big-Ticket Bulk Customers by offering Discounts,etc which can't be matched by Online Ticketing Sites today.

Ultimately the Customer Wins.

We are seeing the same Process at play with SDN Today.

Eventually a stage will come when the Networking Engineers(who have extensive Experience with SDN) will not just earn more but will feel more rewarded/Valuable in the work they do as only they will have the experience to handle such Complex systems.

Regards

Ashish.
More Blogs from DOS Attack
IP and optical have been moving toward a physical convergence for years, but software layer integration is the new hot topic.
Optical Transport Month at Light Reading has come to an end, but stay tuned for much more optical coverage.
Light Reading readers have confirmed the metro is where it's at for optical in 2015.
Michigan operator Comlink explains how and why it just joined the 100G race.
Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin takes stock of the metro 100G movement percolating in the optical sector.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (0) comments


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Between the CEOs
EXCLUSIVE: Cisco's Chambers on Reinvention

3|3|15   |   8:24   |   (1) comment


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
LRTV Documentaries
The Three Cs of MWC15

3|2|15   |   2:33   |   (1) comment


My visit to this year's Mobile World Congress is going to dominated by three Cs – cloud, cells and coffee.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
FCC Adopts Title II Rules
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 2/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.