& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
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: Lightning
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
Ciena and ADVA separately show off the ability for their new data center interconnect gear to address a variety of distance needs.
The utility industry is keeping TDM alive, but maybe not for much longer.
Vendor CEOs make a lot of money, but we have a list of those who made more than most.
Growing security threats are set to drive critical infrastructure operators to new investment and upgrades of their internal networks.
Mike Birck guided Tellabs for more than 30 years over a span of five decades.
Featured Video
From The Founder
The world of virtualization is struggling to wrench itself away from the claws of vendor lock-in, which runs counter to everything that NFV stands for.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Has Europe Switched to a Fiber Diet? Not Yet...
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/15/2018
5G: The Density Question
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/15/2018
Will China React to Latest US Huawei, ZTE Slapdown?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/16/2018
IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/15/2018
21st Century Networking? Welcome to the Lock-In
Steve Saunders, Founder, Light Reading, 2/20/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed