SDN vs People
I have been championing the merits of software defined networking (SDN) lately (until I am blue in the face) to pretty much anyone who will listen. I figure that I will either win them over with logic, or they will just get tired of hearing me talk and say, “fine, just shut up and do it already.”
I really don’t expect the latter scenario. In my experience the biggest obstacle to new technology and new ideas are the IT veterans themselves. I am just as guilty of this. Steve Jobs has often been quoted as saying that the key to success in this industry is the ability to “think different.” Thinking differently is what drives innovation and moves us forward. It should be clear to almost everyone in this industry that the fundamentals that you understand and cling to today, will not be so fundamental a few years from now.
The critical problem that SDN has at the moment is that the network administrator’s thinking (as a whole) lags behind the technology. From an administrators point of view, it is always a much easier pill to swallow if the new “thing” looks like the old thing. This is not really surprising. There has not been much in the way of innovation in the networking side of the house in many years (decades?) when compared to other traditional IT silos like compute and storage. That has now changed, and it is going to take some time for people to catch up. The “legacy” system in this case is people’s minds. They simply need time to evolve. This will certainly happen because in the end logic will always prevail (eventually). Frankly SDN makes sense, both from a technological perspective and from a business perspective. SDN is better, faster, and cheaper.
It is an exciting time to be in the IT industry. The way we operate and offer services has completely shifted in all traditional IT silos to now be truly “software defined.” If I were a young guy just getting into this business I would certainly be working to hone my skills in scripting and automation. The traditional “command-line ninja” responsible for configuring individual components in the data center is a dying breed. API is the new command line.
The simple fact is that skill-sets will evolve along with people’s minds. With SDN they have to. As an enterprise, I will need people who both understand networks and are skilled developers. This pool of talent will be extremely professionally successful, and surely one of the fastest growing in this new environment.