Open Networking Foundation sets up vendor-neutral SDN certification

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) was founded with the goal of breaking down the vendor lock-in that has plagued the telecom industry, so it's no surprise that its software defined networking (SDN) skills certification program is based on those same principles.

The ONF announced the availability of beta examinations for the ONF-Certified SDN Professional (OCSP) Program. Testing and training sessions for the exams will be held at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress Oct. 12-16 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Exams are available to everyone and free of charge for the first 100 participants. 

The ONF consulted with experts in the vendor, operator and academic sides of the industry to see what would make sense for an industrial certification program, which will launch as beta, ONF Executive Director Dan Pitt told FierceWirelessTech. Adjustments will be made to fine-tune it as feedback rolls in.

What prompted this? A couple years ago, with some of the cultural changes surrounding SDN, it became apparent that there was a skills gap. At first, there was some resistance to such disruptive change. About a year ago, the ONF put it on the back burner as other things took priority, but it came back into focus this year after hearing from people who wanted to hone their skills and companies that realized they needed a certain skill set.

"Everybody kind of realized that if all you do is go to a single vendor's training program, you're going to get indoctrinated into one vendor's approach, so there was a feeling that ONF could play an important role here, and sooner rather than later in establishing some vendor-neutral, industry-wide skills benchmarks," Pitt said.

While it has support from a variety of service providers, wireless operators in particular have a significant business in consumer relations and the ability to tailor services. They know as much as anybody that different customers want different things and "you can't have every little feature you want for your customer set, especially on the consumer side, to be reflected in a different piece of equipment," he said.

"You've got to be able to have a flexible infrastructure to offer dynamic services to your customer base and those things can be founded on time of day or the kind of wireless contract you might have, or some event that's coming up" for making available a resource temporarily. The operators are all looking for technology that allows them to be even more dynamic, he said.

While Verizon (NYSE: VZ) has been less vocal about its moves to SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) than AT&T's (NYSE: T) ambitious goals, it also is working toward integrating the technologies.

People are no longer saying, "What is SDN?," or even talking about if or when they're going to use SDN -- they're talking about how to get it done. "We've had a lot of interest in expanding it outside the data center," he said, and now it's more of a matter of, "Let's make it real and usable."

The ONF recently sent out a survey to its membership, which Pitt said the organization does periodically as a normal course of business to gauge how it's doing.

For more:
- see the press release

Related articles:
Open Networking Foundation releases Atrium to advance open source SDN
OPNFV expects to deliver first software release next month
Why AT&T, Verizon, Ericsson and the rest of the industry is embracing SDN and NFV
Open Networking Foundation extending OpenFlow SDN to wireless, mobile

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