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Cisco SDN training is exactly where it should be, execs say

Cisco would like to set the record straight -- it is taking SDN training seriously. SDN is not yet part of the core CCIE curriculum, but Cisco says SDN and programmability specialty courses will prepare certified engineers.

Cisco execs have taken issue with the SearchSDN article, "Cisco says it’s too soon for SDN training in CCIE," which states that SDN and network programmability skills are not part of the core curriculum in career-level programs, such as CCIE.

In response to our earlier interview with Tejas Vashi, director of product marketing and strategy at Learning@Cisco, Cisco released a series of comments disputing or clarifying sentences or statements in our article. Here are Cisco’s comments:

Statement: "Cisco says it won't include SDN training in its career-level certifications until the technology is more widely deployed," and a Cisco person said this to you -- right?

Cisco: Cisco was the first to create and introduce formalized education and certification programs for SDN in the industry. We were focused early on leading our technical community through this next evolution of networking. Our Network Programmability training is included today within our career-level certifications portfolio. We have already introduced eight network programmability courses, six exams and are investing heavily in the DevNet community (developer.cisco.com) to address four critical, emerging job roles.

Four Cisco Network Programmability specialist certifications allow professionals to augment their skills and transition through this program: those certifications are layered on top of any existing CCIEs, CCNPs and CCNAs requirements.

Statement: "Cisco Learning execs say SDN and network programmability aren’t yet relevant enough."

Cisco: Cisco recognizes the tremendous market opportunity that SDN and network programmability represent. Our customers and partners are all very interested in learning how to leverage SDN for better business outcomes.  For that reason, we went out to the market very early with a complete set of courses that deeply focus on SDN. These new specializations address a new set of job roles that we had identified, [which]would be incredibly important to this space.  Because SDN is such a major transformation of how the network is designed, configured and run, we choose to have a focused specialization for this that gave plenty of time for introducing new topics like policy-based network automation, application-centric infrastructure architecture, and APIs sets to simplify network operations. We wanted to make sure that we could cover those topics deeply and with a focused approach, as an overlay to our traditional CCNAs, CCNPs and CCIEs programs.  All our certifications will be touched by those skillsets, as the job roles evolve.

Like with any new networking or technology topic we introduce, we always lead with learning for the new capabilities, [as]training always has to come first. Subsequently, we allow our customers and partners to have a chance to apply those skills [to] environments and get experience with this new technology. At that point, they are usually ready to certify or recertify, as new job titles make their way into the workforce. So it’s not surprising that Cisco’s approach with a new topic, such as SDN, is to start off with training, enablement and specialist certifications to offer a deep and focused path to learn the new topic and provide a migration path to the existing workforce.  This allows our customers and partners to build the necessary skills with a more focused approach, develop deep competency for the new area on top of what they already know. As the technologies mature, we continue to extend the topic into all relevant parts of certification portfolio.  

Statement: “Today SDN is a nice-to-know, but it’s not part of the industry job role.”

Cisco: Cisco views network programmability and software development skills (such as Python and Java programming) as critical topics whose relevance varies with an individual’s current and future job functions. Currently, there is not just [a] single networking job role, nor do we anticipate there to be a single job role in the future. Network Programmability represents a multi-faceted environment with different organizations leveraging Network Programmability to address different challenges. The result is that several new job roles are evolving and emerging. Four of these job roles, [which] we have identified and continue to build training for, are Business Application Engineer, Network Programmability Designer, Developer, and Engineer. As today’s workforce migrates into these new areas, network programmability and software development will play a role in their career development. 

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