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SDN architectures

SDN: A Particular Set of Skills Much in Demand

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

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