Written by Dan Pitt
Dan Pitt is Executive Director of the Open Networking Foundation, joining on its public launch in March 2011.
The challenges of software defined networks are inherently present in many various aspects. Fundamentally, the challenge of moving to software defined networks is really not so much technical as it is organizational. With these challenges, Dan Pitt describes the changes that will impact network management, network monitoring, and the roles of IT staff.
The challenge of moving to SDN is really not so much technical as it is organizational. It's a different way of doing things, and not just doing forwarding and routing but doing network operations, network management, network monitoring, and application development. It also will involve a change in the rolls and responsibilities and the talents of staff.
We know that with software-defined networking you can program the network. You can automate configuration and management, and reconfiguration and operation of the network in very fine detailed form through software. You don't need as many people sitting at a keyboard doing command line interface configurations of switches or routers every time you want to move something or even move a virtual machine on the switches that it's affiliated with. There will be less of a need for people doing manual configuration. In general we're going to see a change in the span of control among network administrators similar to what we're seeing in server administrators. The impact on staff will be to see what happens with server administrators, and that's the trend for network administrators right now. The span of control for server administrators is close to 100 to 1 compared to network administrators, and that's not sustainable.
We will see fewer people doing configurations but there will be more people working on software and orchestration and the tying of applications and network behavior to business priorities.