Interop Debate – What-to-Study 2-minute Drill

Wendell Odom
By Wendell Odom October 1, 2014 09:05

We’re holding the Interop debate today about traditional certifications versus studying SDN. During the debate, we expect to discus the specific topics we should be studying to learn SDN. And we each get roughly two minutes each, so the answer doesn’t easily fit. This post is here so I can point people at the show here, since they might not be able to furiously write it all down.

I will circle back to this topic following the show.


  1. CCNA  + CCNP R/S
  4. Some OpenStack Neutron

And on the first three, you can back off one cert level on one, or possibly two, depending on your goals.


Foundational SDN

  1. Mininet w/ options
  2. POX w/ options
  3. Wireshark of it all
  4. OpenFlow protocol (for learning’s sake)

Basically try as many command-line options as you can with Mininet and POX. Try the options to make POX act like a hub, switch, and router. Understand the resulting OpenFlow flows.

Pick a few more SDN controllers, install, and repeat similar exercises using Mininet.

Mininet lets you easily point to any controller by IP address and port. Try Open Daylight and a vendor’s controller.

Make a choice of Primary SDN genre

  1. Cisco
  2. VMWare
  3. HP
  4. Etc
  5. Open SDN

Then study the certs and other info available info from that vendor genre, including the ONF’s new SDN certifications.


For those at Interop: Check out Jason Edelman’s session at 11:00AM Thursday Oct 2nd about network automation for some tips on what to learn.

If you do choose to learn programming:

  1. Pick a language
  2. An API
  3. Do something with that language and that API that you know how to do without programming.

For example, even before learning a language, you can get a sense for APIs using the onePK demos in Cisco’s All-in-one VM.

SDN Job Numbers – 3QCY14
Wendell Odom
By Wendell Odom October 1, 2014 09:05
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  1. Mario February 24, 21:53

    Hi Wendell,

    I didn’t see a follow up to this post. I would like to hear you opinion on whether traditional certs are still prevalent in the upcoming SDN world. I am currently studying CCIE SP, and everyday I ask myself if it’s worth it in the long run. I heard the protocols will still need to be known such as BGP, OSPF, etc. However, the more I read on SDN, the more I feel like the controller will be able to provision and route on its own, without human intervention.

    What do you think? Is it worth getting CCIE or learn some SDN skills, ie. python, programming, openflow, etc?

    Reply to this comment
  2. Wendell Odom February 25, 10:40

    hi Mario,
    I don’t think it’s an either or, to be honest. I think it’s both. Cisco’s cert tracks won’t stay will. Cisco had stated informally on public webinars that they expect network programmability to be a part of the cert tracks over time.

    Figuring out a road map to get there is a challenge, and I should think about and give a more thoughtful answer than a quick comment. Maybe that’s the next series here once I get out from under a current load of work. (I’ve not had time for fun work like this blog, for instance.)

    So, network programmability has to be in that mix, no matter the certs. No matter the technology, it will be more and more automated. I’m talking programmability for control mores than programming the data plane.

    I think a good long term plan for someone starting out would include CCNP R/S as a medium term goal. But not to the exclusion of the SDN world. I’d say combine that with baseline SDN knowledge, Python, virtualization skills. (Yes you could spend all day learning.) If you could use mininet, understand the basics of what a controller is doing, compare/contrast that with basic CCNA Route/switch concepts, Understand some APIs like Cisco’s APIC-EM APIs (easy to learn at DevNet), Use APIC-EM in lab with your CCNA and CCNP labbing, but keep working on a broad Open SDN knowledge base (maybe grab at least the first ONF SDN Cert), then that’s a worth 3 year plan. Just off the top of my head.

    So I should put some ideas together – hope to get back to such things soon.

    Reply to this comment
    • Aaron May 28, 12:54

      Hi Wendell,

      To resurrect this again, I wanted to know if you would include CCNP Data Center as part of a medium term goal as well. That tracks seems to have the current heaviest demand.


      Reply to this comment
      • Wendell Odom June 17, 15:49

        Hi Aaron,
        Well, as you can tell, I’ve been away. Sorry for the 3 weeks in not replying/approving. So, in case you’re still tuned in…

        CCNP DC, definitely. CCNP DC is interesting in that you have the option of choosing a design path or troubleshooting path (2 exams on implementing, with then either 2 on design or 2 on troubleshooting). I do wonder which would be better in terms of building the broader skill set. I almost see it more like we’ll still need some areas of noticeably deeper skill, but to get wider, until we become cyborgs, that probably means a generally broader but shallower skill set. Maybe that’s where I’ll end up mentally when I get back into writing.

        Also, CCNP DC, it’s technology as an end to itself is a worthy silo to go after anyway. If you like the “deep in one part, but more than just conversational skills in many” approach, then maybe DC is one good place to be deep.

        Reply to this comment
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