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Network security professional says no to certs, yes to SDN

Who needs security more than the government? Military man and network security pro, Brad Casey, talks certs and why sometimes, you just need to flip a switch.

With the advent of software-defined networking, data center network teams see changes in the hardware they manage.

Network security professional Brad Casey has been in IT since 2008, first doing security assessment testing in the U.S. Air Force as a penetration tester.

Casey received his Masters of Science from the University of Texas in information assurance, and has experience with public key infrastructure, Voice over Internet Protocol and network packet analysis. Casey is also knowledgeable in system administration, Active Directory and Windows Server 2008.

Casey is a SearchDataCenter contributor and advisory board member. He spoke with SDC about the future of software-defined networking (SDN) and why a certification is not always akin to true knowledge.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?

Brad Casey: Be open to opportunities that present ... at that time, no matter how mundane. It might benefit you in the future.

Do you have any technical certifications? Do you think they are necessary?

Casey: No, I made it this long without a certification; I don't feel I need one.

Certs are like degrees. [The piece of paper] doesn't necessarily delve into the substance of what you know. You can find answers to certification tests online, pass the test and have a certification. But that doesn't necessarily mean you know your stuff. It's the same with getting a degree.

What is the most important lesson you learned about working in the data center?

Casey: The simplest solution is usually the correct one. There are computer geeks who overanalyze and complicate the situation. Usually it's just a switch that someone forgot to turn. It happens quite a bit [in data centers].

Where do you see the industry heading?

Casey: I don't know how net neutrality will go, but I see an onset of SDN, switching infrastructure.

SDN is still in its infancy, and while it will primarily involve manipulations in current networking software, it will require some upgrades in hardware as well. There are some people in the industry who say routing and switching infrastructure will become obsolete altogether.  

I'm not sure if it's a good idea or if it will cost a lot to deploy. In terms of who will use it, I can see it making inroads into large enterprises initially; for example, Google, Amazon [and others].

Next Steps

Software-defined networking doesn't necessarily lower an IT shop's security walls, but it does rearrange them. If you're starting out with SDN, know what to expect on the security front.

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Are you in the network security field? What do you expect to change with SDN?
Casey: No, I made it this long without a certification; I don't feel I need one. I've been a IT professional for 20 years. What planet are you from? The whole IT industry is wrapped around bonafided certifications. Casey just having a Masters doesn't make you a genius.
Neither my boss or I have certs. I asked him if I should work on them and he said exactly what Casey said.
The author of this article obviously doesn't work for the Department of Defense. I had to get Security+ certified back in 2010 in order to keep my privileged access and have since had to get Red Hat certified and working on others.