Author Archives: Wendell

Cisco ACI in the CNPES Cert (Engineering Specialist)

Cisco’s current network programmability certs uses two exams per cert, with the second exam focusing on ACI. That represents the first ACI-focused specialist exams from Cisco, and a great reason to learn about ACI and validate that knowledge. Today’s post looks at the ACI-focused exam for the Cisco CNPES Cert exam: the 600-512 NPENGACI exam. We’ll look at both the exam and a related video course.

Other posts in this series:


First, to set the stage, Cisco rolled out their network programmability (read: SDN) certifications over a period of months, mostly in 2014. Figure 1 shows these four certs, with the engineering specialist cert focusing on engineering and implementation.

Figure 1: Overview of Cisco SDN Certifications


Today’s post focuses on the second exam: the 600-512 NPENGACI exam. The name itself is a bit of a mouthful:

Network Programmability ENGineering with ACI

Basically, the NPENG 600-504 exam covers SDN implementation excluding ACI, NPENGACI 600-512 exam includes ACI.

This list provides the links for more details – for the certification, each of the two exams, and each of Cisco’s two Continue reading

SDN Terminology from Layered Models

Even though we don’t build networks with OSI products, we still use terms from the OSI model. What terms will we end up using for SDN, once the dust settles?

The previous post introduced one document that attempts to define terms and architecture, and today’s post introduces another: the ITU-T Y.3300 document. But how do these documents fit in with our fast-changing networking landscape – and what words should we use? Today’s post looks at the Y.3300 doc, and explores a few of the terms.

Other posts in this series:


Big Picture First: ITU-T Y-Series

Most of us don’t have a reason to read docs from standards bodies unless we’re looking for a particular standard or fact. But as long as we’re talking about one doc from the ITU-T Y-series, it’s worth a minute to set the context of what these documents are.

First off, the topic area for the Y-series is broad, but it’s all networking! The title for the ITU-T’s Y-series of documents spells out the big items:

Global information infrastructure, Internet protocol aspects and next-generation networks

Great, so the topic is global network, IP, including next-generation networks. It’s networking! Continue reading

The Cisco CNPES Cert, First Exam (600-504) and Course

Do you think of yourself as a network engineer? Cisco’s Network Programmability Engineer Specialist (CPNES) certification represents Cisco’s first crack at a certification focused on network engineering in an SDN world. Today’s post begins to examine this certification by looking at the first of the two required exams: the 600-504 NPENG exam. We’ll look at both the exam and a related video course.

Other posts in this series:


First, to set the stage, Cisco currently offers four network programmability certifications. Loosely you can think of these as two networking-focused certs, and two development-focused certs, based on job roles. For the two networking-focused certs, one focuses on design, while one (the one discussed here) looks at engineering and implementation.

Figure 1: Overview of Cisco SDN Certifications


Today’s post focuses on the cisco network programmability engineering specialist (CNPES) cert, and specifically the first exam: the 600-504 NPENG exam. Basically, the NPENG exam covers SDN implementation but excludes ACI, while the second required exam, 600-512 NPENGACI, includes ACI.

This list provides the links for more details – for the certification, each of the two exams, and each of Cisco’s two Continue reading

SDN Jobs Vs. Traditional Jobs, 3QCY14

Are the number of #SDN jobs catching up to traditional networking skills, for instance, for jobs that require OSPF skills? Today’s post wraps this short series about the SDN job market in the 3rd quarter of 2014, with a comparison of the number of SDN jobs versus other search terms. Other posts in the series for this quarter:


I Wanted to Know, and Thought You Might as Well

Let’s say the SDN numbers show us 25 new jobs/week in the US. Is that a lot? Not many? I have no idea. So I pondered how we could get some perspective, with just a little effort (translated: only a little time and money). The solution seemed obvious: track some traditional networking terms with the same kinds of searches that we were already tracking with “SDN”.

So, we’ve been tracking a few other terms for a while now:

  • CCIE
  • CCNP
  • OSPF

Note that we didn’t track for each type of CCIE or CCNP, but simply that single term. So our data counts any and every job with CCIE in the title or description, and another counter for CCNP.

However, Continue reading

SDN Job Numbers – 3QCY14

How many SDN jobs are out there so far? If you missed the previous post, well, I’ve been counting them for about five months. Today’s post looks at the numbers for 3QCY14. Check out the previous post for all the picky details about how we gathered the data. This post focuses on the numbers!




SDN in the Job Title, 3QCY14

I’m theorizing that for a term to be in the title of the job posting, that term must be a pretty important part of the job. So, we searched for “SDN” in the title, at Dice.com and Monster.com, did some averaging to keep a week or two spike or drop from skewing the perception, and we’ve created some graphs.

Figure 1 shows the first graph:

  • Searches for SDN in the job title
  • The data is about new job listings per week
  • We use a couple of rolling averages to reduce the bumps in the graph
  • The graph shows both Dice and Monster combined, but with the raw numbers as well


Figure 1: SDN in the Job Title, Per-Week New Job Listings, 3QCY14



SDN in the Job Description

When we find “SDN” Continue reading

SDN Job Report – Methods

Ready for that first #SDN job? How many jobs are available out there? Are there jobs with an SDN focus, or simply jobs that include SDN as just one small part of the job? Are SDN jobs really beginning to emerge?

Well, I too am curious about this kind of question. So a while back, I started tracking mentions of SDN on a couple of job sites: Dice.com and Monster.com. For today’s post, I’ll set the stage for how we’ve gathered the data. In the following posts, I’ll show the numbers for the 3rd quarter 2014.

My Own Ponderings of Searching for “SDN” Jobs

A while back, I was wondering about the job market for networking jobs. We’re in the middle of a time when networking jobs may undergo a lot of change. Our individual preparation for our careers needs to consider both the existing world (where most of today’s jobs still are) and this possible future world with lots of SDN jobs. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone would post articles on occasion about emerging SDN-related jobs, and compare that to existing networking jobs.”

And then I wondered if I could do Continue reading

Wrapping up the Debate

What do you want to be when you grow up? Can you picture it? Close your eyes. Now give your mental self a super-hero kind of outfit. What’s emblazoned on your shirt? What job roles do you think you’d like? What technology do you think you’d like to work with?

In the past, most networkers put some cert letters or logo on their mental super-hero selfie. However, I think that the changes in the networking industry mean that we need to pay a little more attention to building that future self-image through better professional development planning. Those plans help try and reach that ideal image of where we want to be in our careers – and how we go about planning our own development has to change along with the rapid changes in the networking industry.

Wrapping the Series

This really will be the last in this series, with posts related somehow to our Interop debate about traditional certs vs. SDN skills development. Here’s a list of the other posts in the series:

Learn SDN or Go for Traditional Cisco Certs?

At Interop ’14 New York a few weeks ago, Ethan Banks collected four fellow CCIEs together for a panel discussion about whether we should be studying newer SDN technologies or pursuing the same old traditional certifications. I’ve been getting that kind of question for a while. This post summarizes a few points I took away from the other panelists at the show, with a promise to give some of my own thoughts in the post that follows.

Trade Articles

We had a pretty good spread of competing ideas from the four panelists. I couldn’t sit there and furiously write what the others were saying, for later blogging… but thankfully, there were a couple of professionals in the room! While Interop doesn’t normally post audio or video of the sessions, there have been a few trade press articles written about what was discussed the session:


Wendell’s Learnings from the Others

I came away with several ideas from the other panelists that either taught me something or made an existing opinion much stronger.

First, it seemed that there was general agreement that cloud, DevOps, and automation were the point. SDN, which was in the session title and Continue reading

Interop Debate – What-to-Study 2-minute Drill

We’re holding the Interop debate today about traditional certifications versus studying SDN. During the debate, we expect to discus the specific topics we should be studying to learn SDN. And we each get roughly two minutes each, so the answer doesn’t easily fit. This post is here so I can point people at the show here, since they might not be able to furiously write it all down.

I will circle back to this topic following the show.


  1. CCNA  + CCNP R/S
  4. Some OpenStack Neutron

And on the first three, you can back off one cert level on one, or possibly two, depending on your goals.


Foundational SDN

  1. Mininet w/ options
  2. POX w/ options
  3. Wireshark of it all
  4. OpenFlow protocol (for learning’s sake)

Basically try as many command-line options as you can with Mininet and POX. Try the options to make POX act like a hub, switch, and router. Understand the resulting OpenFlow flows.

Pick a few more SDN controllers, install, and repeat similar exercises using Mininet.

Mininet lets you easily point to any controller by IP address and port. Try Open Daylight and a vendor’s controller.

Make a choice of Continue reading

SDN Skills Prerequisites Per Vendor Certifications

In the previous post, which kicked off a new series, I discussed the need to make some basic choices when building your SDN development plan. Today’s post begins to look more closely at the prerequisites, by examining what vendors tell us through the perquisites included for their SDN certifications. To that end, this post looks at HP, VMWare, and Cisco.

The Big Picture

To learn about SDN, and learn deeply, you will need to invest more than a little time. So you need a plan. That plan will include filling in the prerequisite skills that you may need before learning SDN well, some SDN skills common to most all SDN solutions, and some skills related to particular approaches to SDN that differ quite a bit.

Figure 1: Prerequisites, Foundation, and SDN Silos

Today’s post begins to look at prerequisites. This post focuses on three vendor’s SDN certifications. Cisco, VMWare, and HP all have thriving certification programs, and all three have been rolling out SDN-related certifications. All three programs have a clear vendor focus, which is not surprising. But what do they ask of us a prerequisite?

Follow-up posts will look at the specific topics, what I personally think people Continue reading

Three Big SDN Questions for Your SDN Development Plan

SDN is happening. What questions should you be asking about your own development plan to learn SDN skills?

I’ve been thinking about this question in preparation for an upcoming Interop Debate on October 1st, where we’ll be discussing the options to pursue traditional certifications versus learning about SDN. Today’s post begins a series of posts related to topics surrounding that debate. To begin, we’ll look at three big-picture questions you should ask when you get serious about studying about SDN.


How much of your skill set happened to you, rather than being something you planned? How much of your learning relates to surviving today’s job tasks, versus learning for the future?

Let’s face it, many days, we do the job in front of us, with little time to devote to learning something unrelated. However, that’s a fundamental question for any IT knowledge-based worker. Do you have a development plan? Do you spend time working that plan? And now with SDN happening… how should you revise that plan in light of SDN? In the time you can devote this week/month/year, what should you be learning about SDN?

Some people will wait to learn SDN when the next project Continue reading

SDN Certification Update – September ‘14

If you care about building your own SDN skills, SDN certifications should matter to you, at least for the purpose of figuring out what to study (an argument I’ve made in an earlier post.) Since that time, the SDN world has seen several updates to vendor SDN certifications. (I’m also hopeful that we’ll see a few more at the upcoming Interop New York show towards the end of September.) Today’s post summarizes those that merit a look, at least for the purposes of figuring out what you might want to learn to retool for an SDN world.

Latest Highlights

Here’s a quick list of surprises and other goodies from this latest scan of the state of the art:

  • VMWare lets some Cisco CCNAs and CCNPs bypass the need to take a class when getting the first VMWare SDN cert (VCP-NV).
  • Brocade has a free exam voucher program (stated as limited time), plus a free video course, for their “NFV” cert. In theory, there’s no cash cost to study for and achieve this cert!
  • Cisco’s SDN certs have inexpensive (less than $100) video courses for each cert.

Dig into the rest of the post for more details!


Big Continue reading

Tools for Learning Python for Networkers

I’ve been slowly adding to my list of favorite tools and books for learning Python, and I came across a new one this week. So it seemed like a good time to hit the highlights in a blog post, given that so many networkers have some motivation to learn a programming language. Feel free to comment and add your favorite tools to the list!

Context: Networkers Learning a Language (Python)

First, let me throw in a quick paragraph for context. In this world of SDN, NFV, and network automation and programmability, networking people may or may not choose to go learn a programming language. (What are your plans?)

If you do choose to learn a language (as the poll results show so far at least), Python seems to be the best choice if programming is either new to you, or you just haven’t had to (gotten to?) program as a regular part of a job. Python is the simplest to learn of the languages that matter most to SDN, and is becoming the language-of-choice for more and more universities as the first language learned by undergrads.

On to the Continue reading