Software Defined Networking – The Future of Cisco Accreditation


In the rapidly evolving domain of network infrastructure, Software Defined Networking (SDN) emerges as a transformative force, redefining the fundamentals of network management and operations. This paradigm shift is especially significant for industry leaders like Cisco, known for their benchmarks in networking excellence. With SDN heralding an era of unprecedented flexibility, automation, and control, it necessitates a critical reassessment and evolution of Cisco’s qualification frameworks.

This exploration delves into the profound impact of SDN on the networking field, highlighting its crucial role in transforming established practices and guiding the advancement of Cisco’s certification programs. It examines how SDN is setting new standards for network management and operations, compelling Cisco to integrate SDN principles, automation, and programmability into its certification processes.

From Fundamental Components to Global Adoption: The Evolutionary Journey of SDN

Software-defined Networking represents a transformative approach to network architecture, aimed at enhancing flexibility and simplifying management. By decoupling the network’s control logic from the underlying hardware that forwards traffic, SDN facilitates centralized control, streamlining the management and configuration of network devices and services.

At the core of SDN lies a trio of essential components that form the backbone of its architecture. At the heart of this setup is the controller, which functions as the brain of the SDN, orchestrating management, automation, and policy enforcement across both physical and virtual network environments. This key role enhances streamlined operations and strategic decision-making.

Complementing the controller are the southbound APIs, which facilitate communication between the controller and the physical network devices like switches, routers, access points, and firewalls. These APIs empower the controller to directly regulate hardware behavior and steer data flow in line with established policies.

Meanwhile, the northbound APIs bridge the gap between the controller and higher-level applications and services, effectively transforming the network into a single, logical unit that supports the seamless integration of sophisticated network functionalities.

Notably, the adoption of SDN has seen robust growth across various sectors, with significant implementation in data centers, wide area networks (WANs), and access networks. This widespread adoption underscores SDN’s central role in addressing modern network challenges.

Furthermore, SDN lays the groundwork for Intent-Based Networking (IBN), an evolution that introduces deeper automation levels in network provisioning and configuration. By offering capabilities for translation and assurance, IBN enhances the automation of the network’s entire lifecycle, aligning network operations more closely with business objectives. The transition from SDN to IBN represents a key milestone in the development of more intelligent, responsive, and business-aligned networking solutions.

The Strategic Advantages of Software Defined Networking

 The introduction of Software Defined Networking heralds a significant leap forward in network management and security, offering a multitude of benefits.

Firstly, SDN streamlines network management by enabling programmability. This automation facilitates the discovery and configuration of devices, reducing the need for manual intervention and simplifying complex processes.

Additionally, SDN enhances troubleshooting capabilities through the use of network analytics and machine learning. These technologies provide predictive insights, thereby improving network reliability and performance.

In terms of security, SDN significantly strengthens defenses by enabling the implementation of zero-trust models and policy-based segmentation. This approach offers a more robust mechanism for protecting the network.

Lastly, SDN acts as a catalyst for infrastructure transformation. It lays a solid foundation for automating lifecycle management across various network domains, including access, WAN, and cloud environments.

Importantly, SDN solutions offer targeted benefits tailored to the distinct requirements of various organizational roles, addressing their unique needs with specialized capabilities:

– Data Center Managers benefit from innovations such as Cisco ACI, predictive networks, and hybrid cloud services. These offerings are designed to boost agility, enhance security, and facilitate multicloud environment integration.

– Conversely, Network Managers gain access to tools like the Cisco Catalyst Center, SD-Access, SD-WAN, SD-Branch, and the Cisco Meraki Platform. These platforms assist in designing, setting up, and managing secure networks, ensuring seamless access to applications and services.

In summary, SDN revolutionizes network management and security, offering streamlined operations, enhanced troubleshooting, robust security measures, and transformative infrastructure capabilities. By catering to the specific needs of Data Center and Network Managers with targeted solutions, SDN paves the way for more agile, secure, and efficient digital environments. This transformation underscores the critical role of SDN in shaping the future of network infrastructure.

Empowering Networking Professionals: Cisco’s Integration of SDN into Certification and Education

The transition to SDN marks a profound change in network technology. By decoupling control mechanisms from data forwarding functions, SDN enables direct programmability of network control and seamless integration with applications. This shift from hardware-centric to software-focused methods grants unparalleled control over network operations, enhancing agility to meet evolving business requirements. Moreover, Cisco, recognizing the groundbreaking potential of SDN, has proactively integrated SDN technologies into its certification programs. This integration not only redefines network management and efficiency but also sets new standards for accreditation, preparing professionals for the networking demands of a software-defined future.

The incorporation of SDN into Cisco’s certification programs marks a significant evolution in the industry, ushering in a new era for networking professionals. Cisco has updated its certification curriculum to include SDN, network programmability, automation, and orchestration, aiming to empower professionals with the comprehensive expertise required to design, implement, and manage SDN infrastructures effectively.

Furthermore, Cisco has introduced new certification tracks that emphasize the increasingly essential skills of network automation and programmability. The launch of certifications such as the Cisco Certified DevNet Professional and the Specialist in automation and programmability underscores the shifting priorities within the networking industry.

Additionally, Cisco’s accreditation efforts now place a greater emphasis on software skills. Networking professionals entering this field are expected to possess a solid understanding of programming basics, APIs, and scripting languages, reflecting the industry’s shift towards software-driven networking solutions.

Cisco has also enhanced its certification exams by incorporating more simulations and practical tests. These enhancements are designed to thoroughly evaluate a candidate’s ability to handle, manage, and solve SDN-related challenges, providing practical preparation for the real-world issues they will encounter.

Finally, to facilitate continual professional development in the rapidly changing network technology landscape, Cisco promotes ongoing education. It offers a broad array of learning resources, including targeted courses, webinars, and workshops, all aimed at keeping networking professionals at the forefront of their field. This dedication to continuous learning highlights the critical importance of staying abreast of the latest developments in SDN and network automation.

Navigating the Future: Cisco’s Vision for Networking in the Age of SDN and Automation

The future of networking is undeniably linked with the principles of Software Defined Networking and network automation. Cisco’s strategic integration of these concepts into its accreditation programs underscores a forward-looking commitment to equipping networking professionals with the expertise necessary for navigating the complexities of modern networks. With the networking environment becoming increasingly intricate and the demand for scalable and adaptable solutions on the rise, the skills required for proficient network management are rapidly evolving.

Cisco’s update to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program reflects its dedication to keeping pace with the rapidly evolving network technology landscape, particularly the transformative role of SDN. By incorporating foundational SDN knowledge alongside traditional networking principles, the CCNA curriculum ensures that entrants to the networking field are proficient in both established and cutting-edge network management paradigms. Topics such as the separation of control and data planes, the significance of automation and programmability, and the functionality of Northbound and Southbound APIs are covered to provide a comprehensive understanding of how SDN enhances network flexibility and efficiency. Furthermore, practical applications of SDN, including the use of Cisco DNA Center for network management, are highlighted to offer insights into real-world implementations. This blend of traditional and modern networking knowledge prepares CCNA candidates for the dynamic challenges of today’s network environments, making the certification more relevant and valuable in the context of current industry trends.

Moreover, Cisco has introduced specialized certifications that delve deeper into the realms of network programmability and automation. The Cisco Certified DevNet Associate and DevNet Professional certifications are prime examples of this shift. These credentials are tailored for network professionals and software developers aiming to specialize in the development and maintenance of applications built on Cisco platforms. By focusing on areas such as automation tools, APIs, and Cisco’s network management platforms, these certifications prepare individuals to lead the charge in transforming network infrastructures through software.

For those seeking further specialization, Cisco offers the CCNP Enterprise certification, which includes a concentration in automation and programmability. This certification is designed for professionals aiming to deepen their knowledge in automating enterprise network solutions. Through specialized training, individuals learn to implement, manage, and troubleshoot advanced network solutions, ensuring networks are more responsive to the needs of the business.

In addition to these certifications, Cisco encourages continuous learning through its Digital Learning Platform, offering courses in SDN, network automation, Python programming for network engineers, and various other subjects. This commitment to ongoing education helps professionals stay ahead of technological advancements and industry trends, ensuring they have the skills necessary to leverage new technologies for optimizing network performance and security.

In summary, the integration of SDN and network automation into Cisco’s accreditation and educational offerings not only prepares professionals for the challenges of today’s network environments but also positions them to lead in the creation of tomorrow’s innovative network solutions. As the demand for such skills continues to grow, Cisco’s certifications will remain at the pinnacle of networking professionalism, ensuring that certificate holders are recognized as experts in a software-defined world.


In conclusion, Software Defined Networking stands as a pivotal innovation that is steering the future of network management, introducing a new epoch of flexibility, efficiency, and automation. This transformative technology not only signals a major shift in how networks are conceived and operated but also underscores the necessity for a parallel evolution in Cisco’s accreditation frameworks. Consequently, with SDN, Cisco is at the forefront, integrating SDN principles, automation, and programmability into its certification processes, thereby ensuring that networking professionals are well-prepared for the demands of contemporary and future network environments. Moreover, this evolution reflects a broader industry movement towards more agile, software-driven networking solutions that promise to redefine the landscape of network infrastructure. As Cisco continues to adapt and innovate in alignment with these technological advancements, its role in shaping the next generation of networking experts who are proficient in SDN becomes increasingly critical. Therefore, this commitment to education and certification excellence ensures that Cisco remains a beacon of leadership and innovation in the ever-evolving realm of network technology.