ONF Certified SDN Associate (OCSA)

 ONF certified associate   

To take the OCSA exam, contact an ONF Approved SDN Training Partner or an Exam Provider

To become an exam provider or a training partner, please email us at SDNskills@opennetworking.org.

Exam Title: ONF-Certified SDN Associate (OCSA-110)

Exam Details: 40 questions in 60 minutes and a pass score of 70%. Full credit given for each correct answer, no partial credit, as all questions return a binary response (correct/incorrect).

Exam Delivery: Delivered electronically via secure login, with attestation and affirmation of academic integrity by the candidate. Exam to be available in English and Simplified Chinese by Q4 2015.

Exam Fees: $150.00. ONF members will receive a 10% discount.
Additional fees for remote proctoring may be assessed. Please contact training providers for more details. 

Credential Awarded: ONF Certified SDN Associate (OCSA) upon successful completion of the exam.

Exam Purpose: This certification exam attests and formally certifies that the successful candidate has vendor-neutral conceptual knowledge of the major domains of networking practices that support the theory and practice of Software Defined Networking (SDN). It presupposes foundational knowledge in computer networking practices, and will validate conceptual knowledge in how those computer networking foundations are affected in an SDN environment. It is an entry-level certification examination for technical professionals asserting concept-level mastery of the domain of SDN.

Intended Exam Audience

 Job Position Primary Job Responsibilities 
SDN Sales Engineer Create BOM’s
High Level Architecture and Design
Product Comparisons/Capabilties
Product Line Updates

Business Development Manager Value of Solution
Identify Business Trends
Develop Statements of Work 

Product Manager Future Features/Roadmap
Develop Go to Market Strategy
Define Customer Requirements/Use Cases

Product Marketing/TME Product Positioning and Differentiation 
Compare/Contrast Products (Both Internal and External Products)
Sales Enablement
Creation/Editing of Technical Documentation/White Papers/Collateral

Manager/Director for a Network/IT Group Setting Strategy and Vision
Career Development for Staff
Assignment of responsibilities
Articulating needs of staff to higher technical and management leadership

Network Technician (Entry Level) Installation/Migration (entry level, with supervision)
Monitoring (entry level, with supervision)
Trouble tickets and documenting/communicating issues via wiki etc. (entry level, with supervision)

IT Analyst (Entry Level) Recommend IT Architectures/Products/Systems
Test Plans (product certifications for ONF)
Performance & Monitoring (see above in Network Technician)
Business ROI Comparisons
Education if there is public material (or could use high level examples of ROI savings)

System Administrator (Entry Level) Manage IT Systems
Operations Process
Deploy Server/Storage Infrastructure (non-network)
Hypervisors/Overlays/Virtual Switches

Consultant/Professional Services Engineer Design/Implement Network Services
ROI/CapEx/OpEx Analysis
Business Proposals
Recommendations for Network Architecture/Integration 

Student/Researcher/EDU Validate course level knowledge for online course in SDN foundations at a concept level
Writing Research Projects (remove)
Learning more advanced networking technologies
Tech Evangelizing/White Papers/Speaking
Looking for Future Job/Career
Fundamental Understanding from Academic/Theory Perspective

Sales Representatives Sell SDN Products (assumes product knowledge about specific networking hardware/software)
Price/Quote Product/Solutions
Identify Opportunities and Sales Insertion Points
Can carry on an intelligent and informed conversation with every individual in a sales cycle process

Project Manager (Assumes knowledge, skills, abilities in program management domain) Sets/Tracks Schedules
Assign Resources
Focus on Deliverables (SoW)
Project Plans
Communicate with Stakeholders

Program Manager (Assumes knowledge, skills, abilities in program management domain) Manage Budget/Resources (financials)
Business Case Development
Procurement & Contract Management & Product Certification via Testing and Interoperability via ONF recommendations
Governance/Control/Alignment of Operations

Help Desk/NOC Engineer Trouble Tickets
First Level Triage/Support
Escalations (with experience)
Bug Submission

Prerequisite Knowledge and Recommended Training Materials

In order to pass the ONF OCSA Exam, a foundational knowledge of computer networking is assumed, with specific familiarity with various conceptual models of networking (OSI, Internet, etc.) and technologies also required. No job experience is mandated, but your familiarity with all the knowledge domains of this certification is essential to succeed. Resources that would be helpful include publications on networking, as well as foundational certifications in networking from Cisco, Citrix, CompTIA, Juniper, or Microsoft, and materials freely available from Open Networking Foundation. Other materials and resources may be referenced on https://opennetworking.org/sdn-learning-resources.

ONF Certified SDN Associate Examination Blueprint

 Domain % Weight of Exam (40 questions from random pool) 
1. Networking Concepts 15%
2. SDN Concepts 25%
3. OpenFlow 25%
4. SDN Architecture and Ecosystem 25%
5. SDN Open Source 10%


Domain 1: Networking Concepts

Identify and compare the layers of OSI and TCP/IP models and functionality of various fundamental elements of networking.

  • Ethernet networks
  • Collision domains and broadcast domains
  • Function of routers and switches
  • Routing Protocols (RIP, OSPF, ISIS, BGP)
  • Optical network fundamentals – SONET/SDH, OTN
  • IP Network Services ( DHCP, DNS, ARP, NAT, ICMP)
  • Layer 2 addressing, including address resolution
  • IPv4 and IPv6 fundamentals
  • Layer 3 / IP addressing, including subnet masks
  • Longest match routing
  • Connection-oriented vs. connectionless protocols
  • Packet Filtering with Match/Action Pairs


Domain 2: SDN Concepts

Describe the fundamental characteristics of SDN, definitions, use cases, and history.

  • History of SDN (Clean Slate, Ethane, OpenFlow®, donation to ONF)
  • What is SDN? (control and forwarding)
  • SDN Value Proposition
  • SDN Use Cases in the Data Center
  • SDN Use Cases in Campus Networks
  • SDN Use Cases in Service Providers
  • SDN Use Cases in the Enterprise
  • SDN Use Cases in Mobile Networks
  • The six characteristics of an SDN Network (Plane Separation, Simplified Forwarding Element, Centralized Control, Network Automation, Virtualization, and Openness)
  • SDN Devices (Controllers, Switches, Orchestration, API’s)
  • Overlay Networking Abstractions (NFV, VxLAN, etc.)


Domain 3: OpenFlow®

Identify at a concept/definition level the OpenFlow® Protocol operations and list the packet types and contents.

  • TCP level secure channel/communication/session establishment between controller/switch
  • Message Types
  • Basic Operation/Packet Matching
  • Differences between OpenFlow® versions
  • Proactive vs Reactive Flows
  • Statistics/Counters
  • Setting up a flow
  • Policy Enforcement
  • OpenFlow® Management and Configuration Protocol (OF-Config, OAM, OFDPA, OVSDB, etc.)
  • Flow Table Entry Format
  • Flow Timers
  • Pipeline Processing
  • Match Types
  • Match Actions


Domain 4: SDN Architecture and Ecosystem

Understand and Identify SDN architectural components, standards bodies, controller design, API’s and applications.

  • SDN Layers
  • SDN Architecture compared to Traditional Network Architectures
  • Northbound API’s
  • Southbound API’s
  • East/West API’s
  • Security and Availability
  • Packet and Optical Integration methods
  • Migration Strategies
  • Hybrid Mode Switches
  • Organization in the SDN Ecosystem
    • Standards Bodies and Industry alliances
    • Network Operators and Enterprises
    • Network Equipment Manufacturers
    • Software vendors
    • Academic and Industry research institutions and labs
    • Open Source Initiatives
  • Who is the ONF and what do they do?
    • Purpose
    • Structure
    • Technical Working Groups
    • Open Source Software Development
    • Activities and Initiatives
  • Controller Placement and Redundancy
  • SDN Applications (service chaining, virtualized network functions, analytics)


Domain 5: Open Source SDN

Identify key open source projects in the SDN Ecosystem.

  • OpenFlow® Agents
    • Indigo
    • Linc
    • OVS
    • CPqD/ONF Driver (aka “libFluid”)
  • OpenFlow® Controllers
    • NOX
    • POX
    • ONOS
    • ODL
    • Floodlight
    • RYU
  • Utilities and Tools
    • FlowSim
    • Mininet
    • Of DPA
    • OF Test
    • Wireshark
    • Avior
  • Open Source SDN Distributions (OSSDN Atrium, etc.)
  • Open vSwitch
  • Orchestration Systems
  • Open Source Initiatives (OPNFV, OCP, ODCA, Open Config)

 List of Abbreviations & Acronyms

Please Note: terms and basic definitions referenced to Wikipedia and TechTerms.com, reference texts, as well as other non-proprietary sources, including ONF publications posted at https://opennetworking.org.

 Term/Abbreviation/Acronym Full Text Name
3GPP third generation partnership project
Abstraction a representation of an entity in terms of selected characteristics, while hiding or summarizing characteristics irrelevant to the selection criteria.
ACL access control list
A-CPI application-controller plane interface
AES advanced encryption standard
API application program interface
ARP address resolution protocol
ASIC application-specific intergrated circuit
BGP border gateway protocol
Broadcast Broadcast or flooding is a simple routing algorithm in which every incoming packet is sent through every outgoing link except the one it arrived on.
CAPEX capital expenditure
CHAP challenge handshake redundancy protocol
CLI command line interface
CO central office
Controller see SDN Controller
CPU central processing unit
Data link layer The second lowest layer of the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model of computer networking.
DDoS distributing denial of service
DHCP dynamic host configuration protocol
DPI deep packet inspection
DNS domain name system
East-West SDN Architecture how entities within the same plane of the SDN architectures interrelate
FEC forward error correction
Flood Flooding is a simple routing algorithm in which every incoming packet is sent through every outgoing link except the one it arrived on.
Frame a unit of data transferred over a L2 network
FTP file transfer protocol
FOSS free and open source software
HTTP hypertext transfer protocol
HTTPS hypertext transfer protocol secure
iBGP interior border gateway protocol
ICMP internet control message protocol
IDS intrusion detection system
Information model a set of entities, together with their attributes and the operations that can be performed on the entities. An instance of an information model is visible at an interface.
IPS intrusion prevention system
IP internet protocol
IP address the unique value assigned to each host on a computer network that is employing the Internet Protocol for addressing
IPsec internet protocol security
IPv4 internet protocol version 4, using a 32-bit integer value for host addressing
IPv6 internet protocol version 6, using a 128-bit interger value for host addressing
ISIS intermediate system to intermediate system protocol
Layer a stratum in a framework that is used to describe recursion within the data plane. Adjacent layers have a client-server relationship.
Layer 1, Layer One, L1 see Physical layer in the OSI model
Layer 2, Layer Two, L2 see data link layer in the OSI model
Layer 3, Layer Three, L3 see the network layer in the OSI model
Layer 4, Layer Four, L4 see the transport layer in the OSI model
Layer 5, Layer Five, L5 see the session layer in the OSI model
Layer 6, Layer Six, L6 see the presentation layer in the OSI model
Layer 7, Layer Seven, L7 see the application layer in the OSI model
Level a stratum of hierarchical SDN or networking abstraction
LAN local area network
LIFO last in/first out
LLDP link layer discovery protocol
MAC media access control
MAN metropolitan area network
MPLS multiprotocol label switching protocol
Network layer Provides the functions and processes that allow data to be transmitted from sender to receiver across multiple intermedia networks.
NFV network function virtualization
NOC network operations center
NOS network operating system
NV-GRE network visualization using generic routing encapsulation
OFA OpenFlow® agent
OFC OpenFlow® controller
OPEX operational expense
OS operating system
OSPF open shortest path first
OVSDB Open vSwitch database management protocol
Packet a unit of data transferred over an L3 network.
Packet switch A packet switch is a node in a network which uses the packet switching paradigm for data communication. Packet switches can operate at a number of different levels in a protocol suite; although the exact technical details differ, fundamentally they all perform the same function: they store and forward packets.
Physical layer lowest layer of the seven layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model of computer networking.
PKI public key infrastructure
Port A virtual data connection between computer programs connected through a computer network
RDP remote desktop protocol
Router A router is a networking device that forwards data packets between computer networks. A router is connected to two or more data lines from different networks (as opposed to a network switch, which connects data lines from one single network). When a data packet comes in on one of the lines, the router reads the addres information in the packet to determine its ultimate destination. Then, using information in its routing table or routing policy, it directs the packet to the next network on its journey.
RSVP resource reservation protocol
SDN software defined networking
SDN Architecture The SDN architecure is:

  • Directly programmable: Network control is directly programmable because it is decoupled from forwarding functions.
  • Agile: Abstracting control from forwarding lets administrators dynamically adjust network-wide traffic flow to meet changing needs.
  • Centrally managed: Network intelligence is (logically) centralized in software-based SDN controllers that maintain a global view of the network, which appears to applications and policy engines as a single, logical switch.
  • Programmatically configured: SDN lets network managers configure, manage, secure, and optimize network resources very quickly via dynamic, automated SDN programs, which they can write themselves because the programs do not depend on proprietary software.
  • Open standards-based and vendor-neutral: When implemented through open standards, SDN simplifies network design and operation because instructions are provided by SDN controllers instead of multiple, vendor-specific devices and protocols.
SDN Controller A software entity that has exclusive control over an abstract set of data plane resources. An SDN controller may also offer an abstracted information model instance to at least one client.
SLA service level agreement
SNMP simple network management protocol
Switch A network switch (also called switching hub, bridging hub, officially MAC bridge) is a computer networking device that connects devices together on a computer network, by using packet switching to receive, process and forward data to the destination device. A network switch forwards data only to one or multiple devices that need to receive it, rather than broadcasting the same data out of each of its ports.
TCP transmission control protocol
TLS transport-layer security
UDP user datagram protocol
Virtualization an abstraction whose selection criterion is dedication of resources to a particular client of application. When the context is general, for example when speaking of virtual network elements (VNEs), the term virtual may be used even when abstract might suffice. Virtual is also sometimes used colloquially to mean non-physical.
VM virtual machine
WAN wide area network
WLAN wireless local area network
XML extensible markup language


Links to relevant material may also be found at https://opennetworking.org/sdn-learning-resources.