Juniper Highlights SDN Education Tools

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By: Michael Vizard

Juniper Networks this week moved to accelerate the rate at which organizations embrace network automation by making it simpler for networking teams to both experiment with software-defined networking (SDNs) technologies and access online training aimed at creating for certified network reliability engineers.

The most critical aspect of network automation as part of any transition to SDNs is availability of skills, says James Kelly, lead cloud and SDN architect for Juniper Networks. Unfortunately, most network administrators have yet to give up on command line interfaces (CLIs) in favor of fully embrace SDNs, says Kelly.

“NetOps is not changing,” says Kelly. “Most network administrators are still CLI jockeys."

Announced at the NXTWORK 2018 conference, Juniper highlighted JuniperEngNet, which provides access to a set of virtual instances of Juniper SDN and automation technologies running in the cloud. The goal is to give networking professionals access to hands-on experience within Juniper SDN technologies. That service includes application programming interface (API) documentation, access to various Juniper Labs, a learning portal, and an Automation Exchange that houses various network automation tools. Juniper is also inviting customers and partners to contribute automation content to the Automation Exchange.

The goal is to help foster demand for network reliability engineers (NREs), a term that borrows from a site reliability engineer (SRE) role pioneered by Google that is gaining traction among organizations deploying cloud computing services, says Kelly. To enable that transition Juniper is also creating NRE Labs, a suite training tools and associated content.

Juniper also added a set of professional services to its portfolio as part of an effort to help organizations embrace automated testing.

Juniper is hoping that the prospect of being able to command a higher salary as an NRE will increase the number of network administrators willing to make the transition to SDN platforms. Thus far, the promise of being able to automate network services at scale has not been enough to convince most of them to invest the time and effort to transitions. That’s a critical chicken and the egg issue because without the talent required to manage SDNs, it’s unlikely organizations will embrace SDNs as quickly as most of the networking vendor community originally anticipated.