More training needed to create SDN and NFV experts

30 January 2019

The skills gap in software defined technologies could stifle innovation, warns consultancy firm WhiteSpider. Its CTO and founder, Phil Lees, believes that if left unchecked, a lack of tech specialists in SDN and NFV could hamper the drive to automation and digitisation.

Citing data from research carried out by Cartesian earlier this year, Lees says 80 per cent of network engineers say greater investment was needed to train staff on SDN and NFV technologies. He says the lack of investment here as well as in other software defined technologies (collectively referred to as ‘SD’) is rapidly widening the “already significant” IT skills gap.

“The benefits of SDx are well understood: cost reduction, flexibility, centralised management and more responsive service deployment,” says Lees. “While these benefits are driving interest from UK organisations it is, unfortunately, all too common to see racks of kit sitting, unused, in the comms room, or installed with limited services migrated.”

He warns that without adequately trained engineers to install, configure and then manage these deployments, the benefits are out of reach.

“Network admins are historically tied to traditional, distributed and manually operated environments and have developed the skills to match. While SDx environments require a similar understanding of networking operations, there is also a need for new – predominantly programmatic – skills to leverage the full capabilities of the technologies.”

Lees reckons that getting SDx skills in place means better utilised, better motivated and more strategic IT teams that spend less time on the tasks that “negatively” impact productivity. “CIOs see time freed-up for network admins and management teams alike. IT staff are able to focus on strategic and mission critical activities, adding true value to their organisations – and their new skills will be ever more essential in years to come.”

Anticipating this, Lees says some SDx vendors and their partners are investing heavily in programmes to support or outsource the management of these services. He says this makes it possible for enterprises to reap the benefits of SDx without the barriers to entry.