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Where the Cloud Touches Down: Simplifying Data Center Infrastructure Management

Thursday, July 25, 2013
10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET

In most data centers, DCIM rests on a shaky foundation of manual record keeping and scattered documentation. OpManager replaces data center documentation with a single repository for data, QRCodes for asset tracking, accurate 3D mapping of asset locations, and a configuration management database (CMDB). In this webcast, sponsored by ManageEngine, you will see how a real-world datacenter mapping stored in racktables gets imported into OpManager, which then provides a 3D visualization of where assets actually are. You'll also see how the QR Code generator helps you make the link between real assets and the monitoring world, and how the layered CMDB provides a single point of view for all your configuration data.

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A Network Computing Webinar:
SDN First Steps

Thursday, August 8, 2013
11:00 AM PT / 2:00 PM ET

This webinar will help attendees understand the overall concept of SDN and its benefits, describe the different conceptual approaches to SDN, and examine the various technologies, both proprietary and open source, that are emerging. It will also help users decide whether SDN makes sense in their environment, and outline the first steps IT can take for testing SDN technologies.

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Interop SDN Panel: Become The IT Generalist

All the talk of software-defined networking and automation in the industry has generated some high angst among network engineers, who wonder if SDN will put them out of work. At Interop Las Vegas, a panel addressed this anxiety and the future of networking pros in a session with a tongue-in-cheek title, "Will SDN Make Me Homeless?"

While the panel of networking experts didn't see SDN as gloom and doom for networking engineers, they agreed that it will require an expansion of skills and a shift to becoming more of an IT generalist.

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Networking pros are used to following a specific vendor's certification path to jumpstart their careers, but with SDN there's no such path, said Ethan Banks. Without knowing where the industry is going long term with SDN platforms, network engineers need to broaden their skills beyond networking, he said.

For example, learn service chaining or take a virtual firewall and set it up at the edge of your network. Work with the virtualization and storage teams in your organization, Banks advised.

"Instead of thinking of yourself as a networking person, think of yourself as an IT person with networking skills," he said.

Greg Ferro said companies expect their technical employees to have multiple skills. He described the future of SDN skills as a T-shaped skill set. Go deep on networking, but learn some things about virtualization, compute, and storage. You won't necessarily need to be a storage expert, but you should know some basic storage concepts, he said.

"It's the return of the generalist," said Michele Chubirka (aka Mrs. Y). "It makes the best sense for the business when you can talk the language of other teams....If you can't speak the language, nothing will happen."

Ivan Pepelnjak, chief technology adviser at consultancy NIL Data Communications, said colleges and universities should teach overall IT generalist skillsets, such that programmers understand, say, what a TCP three-way handshake is. Similarly, networking pros need to understand what's riding on the network.

"How can we build roads without knowing the cars using it?" he said.

With SDN, when something goes wrong, it will be up to network engineers to figure out what happened, Banks said. That troubleshooting will require learning new skills, he added.

Ferro said he views SDN as another transition in a career of technology transitions. But Chubirka noted that many are scared of how their roles may change.

"It won't be easy...These are grownups who have been doing things the same way. It's going to be frightening to them. We need to try to help them," she said.

Marcia Savage is managing editor at Network Computing.

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