Software-Defined Networking: The Roadmap

By Graham Robinson, Group Practice Manager – Data#3

[Reading time: 2 mins]

As I outlined in my most recent blog, the next five years will herald unprecedented change for network engineers as networks fragment from monolithic closed-systems with complex configurations managed through a traditional interfaces, into a range of discrete, virtualised services communicating through standards-based APIs.

Although the need to maintain a deep understanding of security, quality of service, routing and other network services won’t disappear, network engineers will need to redefine themselves by upskilling in new areas of software development and developing a deeper understanding of how their network services relate to business objectives.

Fortunately, for those network engineers looking to get a jump on foundational software development skills, the Internet is flush with great courses, tutorials, guides and almost unlimited documentation to help you on your way.

Some recommendations for those looking to get started include the following, however, a quick Google search will yield countless others.


At Data#3 we’ve recently engaged Pluralsight, a global leader in online technology training, to provide our consultants with access to a comprehensive set of self-paced software development courses. Pluralsight offers skills-development across the areas of Software Development, IT Ops, Creative and Certifications, and is increasingly being integrated into our staff development programmes.

Additionally, for network engineers who have access to Cisco’s plethora of partner resources, Cisco provides an Infrastructure Programmability and DevOps community page which provides a consolidated view of their discussion forums, product content and software development resources.

Combined with access to Cisco’s Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL), where engineers can test the latest APIC-EM software with virtual infrastructure, there are great opportunities to take the first steps in adopting software skills today.

While the engineers of the future will most certainly need to complement their understanding of network services with a level of business awareness that makes those services meaningful, that alone will not be enough. With business increasingly needing to innovate by both digitising internal operations and creating new customer services, network engineers will need an understanding of the available software interfaces and how to tie next-generation network services into business processes.

Although the next five years will fundamentally redefine what it means to be a network engineer, there are already countless resources available right now to help those who are ready take the first steps. Ultimately it will not be the strongest of network engineers that survives – nor the most intelligent – it will be those who are the most adaptable to change.


This is the final blog of a four-part series to help network engineers understand how software development will not only improve the enterprise networks, but how their existing network skills, augmented with a new found understanding of software development will help build more stable, secure and efficient networks to support business applications.

Tags: Cisco, Networking