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UNH-IOL students tackle OpenFlow, software-defined networking tools

Experience is the best teacher, or so the saying goes. For software-defined networking tools and networking in general, the adage especially rings true. But acquiring that experience in the real world is more complicated than a pithy proverb.

At the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), an independent testing facility in Durham, N.H., undergraduate and graduate students work with a range of technologies, including Ethernet, IoT and software-defined networking tools. Students acquire hands-on networking experience by testing products for UNH-IOL customers, which include government agencies, networking vendors and service providers.

In the past couple of years, UNH-IOL has increasingly tested devices that don't have a command-line interface, according to Tim Winters, senior IP manager at UNH-IOL. This presents a chance for students to tackle software-defined networking tools, protocols and concepts.

"In some cases, they're getting to test the actual SDN devices with OpenFlow or P4 -- those kinds of protocols," Winters said.

For Hannah Dukeman, a UNH junior majoring in IT, the OpenFlow testing she encountered at UNH-IOL presented a difficult, but interesting, challenge.

"I remember going home with headaches trying to figure it out," she said. "But once I got into the swing of things, I found it was a lot easier, because it wasn't a lot of configuration. You were just working with what you had [on the controller] and trying to figure it out from there."

In the video above, Winters and Dukeman discuss their experiences with software-defined networking tools and, specifically, OpenFlow. They also delve into the opportunities for students at UNH-IOL.

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