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ONF Advances Vendor-Neutral SDN Skills Certification

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) this week furthered its vendor-neutral skills certification program for software-defined networking (SDN), announcing the availability of beta examinations.

As part of the ONF-Certified SDN Professional (OCSP) Program, the exams are open to everyone, with testing and training sessions scheduled for next week at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in Düsseldorf, Germany. The exams are free of charge for the first 100 participants -- otherwise, no pricing information was provided.

"The OCSP Program is designed to provide a strong foundation of vendor-neutral, concept and technical-level credentials in open SDN that can integrate with and complement individual vendor certifications in networking technologies or programming languages," the ONF said in a statement this week. "The beta examinations are based on best practices illustrated in a variety of independent learning and training programs, and they are designed to evolve alongside the SDN ecosystem."

The ONF is a nonprofit organization tasked with shepherding the adoption of open SDN technologies, launched in 2011 by Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo and now totaling more than 130 members. Following its vendor-agnostic philosophy, it claims that other available SDN certifications are vendor-specific.

"ONF was founded with a goal of breaking down the vendor lock-in that plagued the networking industry for decades," exec Rick Bauer said. "Vendor-specific training programs for SDN only serve to perpetuate those issues. We've also been built on the voices of the larger community, and we're using that same approach in ensuring that this program truly meets the needs of the industry."

To that end, the group said anyone passing the exams will be awarded one of two certificates: ONF-Certified SDN Associate (OCSA) or ONF-Certified SDN Engineer (OCSE).

The OCSA "validates concept-level knowledge of SDN technologies, architectures, and deployment solutions," the ONF said. "It is designed for entry-level sales and marketing professionals to have a foundational understanding of SDN."

The OCSE, meanwhile, is an engineering certificate that "validates technical and engineering-level knowledge of SDN technologies, architectures, and deployment solutions, and is designed for entry-level SDN engineering and networking professionals."

The ONF said the certs are being offered to help supply trained personnel to answer an increasing demand for SDN skills. As noted by the ONF, research firm Gartner Inc. predicts that by the end of next year, more than 10,000 enterprises worldwide will have deployed SDN in their networks. "But many enterprises are being set back from migrating due to a lack of skills by their workforce," an ONF spokesperson said.

Benefits of obtaining certification listed by the ONF include a boost in salary potential, proof of competency in the principles and practices of analytics, and offering proof to stakeholders that organizations follow industry-standard analytics practices.

More certifications will be offered (along the lines of "ONF-Certified SDN Security Specialist" or "ONF-Certified SDN Architect") as the program expands, the ONF said.

Those who pass the beta exams will be awarded certifications once beta testing is finished and the formal program launches later this year. Individuals are invited to register for the testing and training sessions.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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