SDN: Do Network Technicians Need Programming Skills?

What is a Software Defined Network (SDN)?

For some years, the term Software-Defined Network (SDN) has become increasingly popular and is growing slowly. We also hear about the diminishing role of “classic” network technicians who acquired their knowledge several years ago, mastering pack network theory such as Ethernet, OSI / ISO, and learning how to configure their devices. Network, such as Port port access or IP route. Articles like “I’m sorry, network jobs are changing” or “Do network professionals have to be programmers?” Personally, I see some concern among my colleagues and network administrators about how SDN can shake the market.

What change does the SDN bring?

An association consisting of 6 switches and 2 routers may not need the SDN revolution. However, managing an infrastructure of tens of thousands of corporate offices and thousands of network devices, and integrating with your private or large-scale cloud, is a great opportunity to use SDN results. In this case, the SDN can solve a problem with network ordering, automatic diagnostics, immediate reconfiguration and integration of many IT areas (for example, systems, network, storage).

Is SDN then a threat to “classic” network engineers? Paramours of pure CLI form and BGP session configuration may not want to invite the SDN solution, as they will somehow take the playground, which is the command line, with them. On the other hand, for SDN architects it can be an intriguing new adventure that can use the IP network design capabilities to design and implement such a network. Let’s take a look at the new open areas and completely new specialties, such as Network Automation Engineer and SDN Engineer, for which engineers need programming skills (which may not be top notch) and knowledge of IP / Ethernet theory for writing. scripting and SDN development Management applications will be an inevitable element of the SDN ecosystem.

Something else?

With “Open” and “Programmability”, the SDN opens the door to fully exploit the potential of network devices that were previously limited by the configuration language given by the manufacturer. Imagine that with the script and NetFlow we can develop interesting functionality for ourselves in the data layer. This method to the above concept seems to be more an opening than a closing!

Is it possible to be trained in SDN?

This broad problem obviously combines programming knowledge with knowledge of network architecture and Ethernet / IP. An SDN course, which we now call “Network Coding (SDN Practice),” will be featured on our training map shortly. So stay connected!

Many discussions of software-defined networks have focused on the future of network engineers and how they need to develop new capabilities to adapt to the future of automated and programmable networks.

In fact, the topic appeared on Wednesday at a key panel at Interop Las Vegas, led by UBM Tech, the parent company of InformationWeek. Steve Shah, senior manager of product management at Citrix, said network educators need to develop their automation expertise. At the moment, there are not many IT people with network and programming language skills like Python, he said.

He agreed with Arpit Joshipura, vice president of product management and marketing at Dell Networking. “You have to program the network, not implement it,” he said. “This is the fundamental change that will come in five years.” 

However, Dominic Wilde, VP of Global Product Line Management at HP Networking, said “you have to become suddenly overnight” is wrong.


According to Glassdoor, the normal national sdn engineer salary for Juniper SDN Cloud Engineers in the US is $ 95,000. The average salary for a Juniper SDN Cloud Engineer in Washington DC is $ 89,259. The salary estimate indicates that the average salary for the Juniper SDN Cloud Engineer is $ 86,094 per year for the Engineer Validator and $ 143,883 per year for the Performance Engineer.