SDN Certifications: Still More Talk Than Action
Software Defined Networking (SDN) is hot stuff in networking nowadays, and promises to take over the world of networking as it's known and practiced across the IT realm. The Internet is abuzz with calls for SDN-savvy professionals, and job opportunities abound. Nobody disputes that SDN is not only important and of great interest, but that it also establishes an important new aspect of, and direction for, networking technology.
But despite all the hoopla and ongoing buzz that SDN is garnering, tangible evidence of current and available certifications in this area still remains more scarce than I thought it might by this time. So far, the only actual certs in the SDN area that are currently available include the following:
Brocade NFV Certification: Brocade Certified vRouter Engineer or BCVE (NFV stands for "Network Function(s) Virtualization," which makes perfect sense, because this credential is built around the Brocade/Vyatta vRouter platform). You have to register with Brocade to access the free training materials and exam that Brocade is currently offering to the public.
HP has a collection of four certifications that touch on SDN, two of them are technical — namely: HP ASE – SDN Application Developer V1 and HP ASE – FlexNetwork Architect V2. See their SDN certifications and training page for more info.
SDN Academy claims to offer both training and certification for SDN, but I see only training, and find no evidence of a formal, exam- and objectives-based certification program on their website. They offer SDN classes on Fundamentals, for Developers, Use-Cases and Deployments, a developer boot camp, and a professional boot camp. Proceed with caution, but worth investigating.
Cisco is approaching SDN slowly and carefully, so far from the perspective of "Network Programmability" with a whole certification track to match. Available so far are: Cisco Business Application Engineer Specialist (exam involved is 600-501 NPIBA which is named "Integrating Business Applications with Network Programmability" which decodes to IBANP instead of NPIBA: looks like all related exams start with "NP"); the Cisco Network Programmability Design Specialist (it takes the CCNP as a pre-requisite and involves two exams: 600-502 NPDES and 600-511 NPESACI); and the Network Programmability Engineer Specialist (it takes any CCNP as a pre-req, and includes two exams 600-504 NPENG and 600-512 NPENGACI).
There is one more cert planned in this track (Cisco Network Programmability Developer Specialist, takes CCNA pre-req plus two exams 600-502 NPDEV and 600-510 NPDEVACI, not yet available) that should be coming later this year.
VMware's certs arguably all touch on SDN since they support virtualization at the most fundamental level. Their VMware Certified Associate – Network Virtualization (VCA-NV) credential is solidly focused on SDN/NFV so it qualifies by any metric as a solid and noteworthy SDN certification.
The last time I visited this niche in October and November 2014, the Brocade cert was the only SDN item actually available. There's been a LOT of progress since then, and I'm sure we'll see more before 2015 is over and done with.
I expect we'll soon find out more about the Open Networking Foundation's ONF-Certified SDN Engineer (OCSE) and ONF-Certified SDN Associate (OCSA) credentials, and it can't be long before other networking infrastructure players (Juniper, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, F5, and so forth) start making forays into SDN training and certification, too. This should be an interesting year, as more and more of this stuff unfolds.