The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) meets quarterly with a Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) to help steer program curriculum. The meetings often involve a passionate discussion of current trends. The group isn’t always in agreement on what’s relevant to our community college students. But time and again, the BILT has proven its collective value by staying ahead of the curve. For many months now, the BILT has talked about the coming boom of software-defined networks (SDN). SDN uses software to manage networks rather than traditional (and usually expensive) hardware.
Now comes concrete evidence that SDN isn’t just an abstract imagining of what might be, but what will be. Bloomberg.com recently reported that Cisco has heard from customers, including Coca Cola and Verizon, to move faster on developing its SDN tools. Businesses want the kind of cheaper, more efficient, more flexibly, and non-proprietary IT solutions that SDN can deliver. Rather than spending weeks or months on system updates, SDN can manage updates in a matter of hours. The article calls SDN “the biggest shift in the industry” since Cisco gained control of the marketplace in the 1990s. Analysts suggest that Cisco’s expanded partnership with Red Hat is a direct response to the criticisms mentioned in that Bloomberg story. The Cisco-Red Hat deal focuses on cloud and SDN solutions and tools.
Our BILT has been proven right again. When the IT industry’s leader ($12.4 billion in revenue; 75,000 employees as of Q4 FY2014) in proprietary networking hardware starts investing in technology to make hardware obsolete, it’s time to start paying attention. As of now, the CTC is working with the BILT to develop specific curriculum guidelines so our IT programs can begin preparing students for working with SDNs.