SDN Job Report – Methods

Wendell Odom
By Wendell Odom November 3, 2014 09:05

Ready for that first #SDN job? How many jobs are available out there? Are there jobs with an SDN focus, or simply jobs that include SDN as just one small part of the job? Are SDN jobs really beginning to emerge?

Well, I too am curious about this kind of question. So a while back, I started tracking mentions of SDN on a couple of job sites: and For today’s post, I’ll set the stage for how we’ve gathered the data. In the following posts, I’ll show the numbers for the 3rd quarter 2014.

My Own Ponderings of Searching for “SDN” Jobs

A while back, I was wondering about the job market for networking jobs. We’re in the middle of a time when networking jobs may undergo a lot of change. Our individual preparation for our careers needs to consider both the existing world (where most of today’s jobs still are) and this possible future world with lots of SDN jobs. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone would post articles on occasion about emerging SDN-related jobs, and compare that to existing networking jobs.”

And then I wondered if I could do the same with some simple job searches.

I’ve got a part-time worker (Chris, icon above). His job is to do anything I can slice off my to-do list and throw his way, from doing Linux admin (hence the penguin!), to building labs and mind maps for books, to …. searching and tracking data from job web sites. So, Chris has been pulling data about SDN job for this little project for about 5 months. (Thanks Chris!)


SDN as a Part or the Core or on the Fringes of a Job

After all this pondering, let me net it out. I’ve reached a few reasonable conclusions about job postings:

  • The job title lists the one or two core job functions
  • The description lists most of the job functions, and maybe lots of things you may seldom do in the job

To expand on these thoughts a little, the job titles are pretty short, so for a term to make the job title would seemingly make that term a core part of the job. However, the job descriptions can be long enough to include all the real technology needed for the job – plus also lots of extra items thrown in. So, when looking for your own purposes, searching the job titles only may be a good first look at the current jobs, and then expand to search in the descriptions as well.

For the purposes of this blog exercise, we are tracking for SDN in the title, for SDN-centric jobs, and SDN in the title and/or description, to find any the mention SDN. Simple enough.


Details: What Data Did We Gather?

After some experimentation, it turns out we could do the same kinds of searches using both and Basically, we did these searches:

  • Search for “SDN”
    • One search is for “SDN” in the title only (to uncover jobs with SDN as a core job responsibility)
    • One search is for “SDN” in either the title and/or the description (for jobs with SDN mentioned at all)
  • We track four states separately, and also tracked the USA as a whole
  • We search for new jobs posted in the previous week. E.G, a job that was posted and left active for 8 weeks was counted for 1 week (the first week)
  • We track Dice and Monster separately
  • We pull data every Tuesday
  • We manually weed out false positives best we can

On the false positives comment, let me make a brief side comment: we didn’t find any so far. The danger is if another industry happens to start using SDN as an acronym that starts showing up in job searches. So far, no other postings have been using SDN to mean something other than Software Defined Networking.


Problems with Gathering the Data

The following may put the net numbers off-target a bit, so, in a desire for full disclosure, let me list what I see as some of the known flaws in our process:

Re-posting of the Same (unfilled) Job – This point has a real impact on the net numbers of jobs tracked. The searches let us find newly posted jobs in the time period selected (and we select one week). However, it appears that some newly posted jobs have identical details to jobs Chris saw the previous week, and the week before… as if the company posting the job is deleting the old job and re-posting a new job. Is that simply a method to make sure their job show up in searches for “new jobs only”? Or did they fill one job and need to hire more people for the same position? We didn’t research those individual instances. So, assuming at least some companies are deleting and re-listing a job post for the same job, then our numbers are higher than the actual number of jobs.

Same job, both Dice and Monster – we kept the data for and separate. However, we made no attempt to find duplicate job listings between the two sites and combine results. For instance, if Monster shows 100 SDN jobs one week, and Dice show 50, there might be 150 unique jobs between them, or 100, or somewhere in between. The goal here is to track trends over time. Culling out the duplicates would have just been too expensive for this little side project.

Searching on “SDN”, but not variations of “SDN” – Finally, we’re searching on “SDN”. We aren’t attempting to collect data on related movements, vendors, products, and we’re not searching on “software defined network”, “software-defined network”, and every other variation on how to spell out the words. So, we may miss a few SDN jobs that happen to spell out the term.


Numbers of Jobs, Numbers of Candidates, Old and new

If I said to you right now that there are 50 new SDN job openings in the USA this week, posted on Monster and Dice combined – what’s your reaction? Is that a lot? Not a lot? Well, it’s hard to know how many of us are looking.

In comparison, how many traditional networking jobs are out there today… and how many of us are looking for one of those traditional networking jobs?

The data we’ve gathered does not answer all of these kinds of questions, but we did gather enough to put some perspective on these questions. I’m having Chris do some checks of traditional networking job keywords, specifically: “CCNP”, “CCIE”, and “OSPF”. We’ve been tracking these weekly, US-wide only, just to put some objective measurement against the SDN numbers.


Closing: Poll, More to Come

This post sets the stage. Next post lists some numbers! In the mean time, for perspective, a lot more jobs postings list “OSPF” than “SDN”. In our current data, SDN jobs sit at about 20% of the number of jobs with OSPF in the job description.

When will “SDN” catch up? The poll I’ll use for these first few posts in this series asks that question. But because SDN may take a looong time to fully catch up to a routing protocol that’s been popular for around 20 years, so let’s call it halvsies. That is, when will there be half as many jobs in an “SDN” search as an “OSPF” search?

FYI, I’ll use the metric of searching inside the entire job description, across the US, when making these comparisons.


SDN Job Numbers – 3QCY14
Learn SDN or Go for Traditional Cisco Certs?
Wendell Odom
By Wendell Odom November 3, 2014 09:05
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*


Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.