Looking Back on the TELUS-Juniper SDN Throwdown

Hello everyone!

It has been a whole weekend since the SDN Throwdown competition, but all of us at CENGN are still absolutely blown away with the level of expertise and what was brought to the table by the students. Now that we are looking back, it is remarkable to reflect on the amount of effort each team of students went through in order to present their software-defined networking (SDN) solutions. It was also evident that this hard work did not go unnoticed, with Jerry Passione, the general manager of Juniper Networks OpenLab, closing the event by stating that it had arguably the strongest set of presentations since the introduction of the TELUS-Juniper competition.

For those who missed it, the SDN Throwdown was a week long event, where students were given a SDN problem and access to a personal development “sandbox” in OpenLab, Juniper’s Center for Innovation. After having a day long kickoff event at CENGN headquarters, where the students were introduced to the OpenLab and the project they’d be working on, eight teams of three were given six days to build and test their applications. For this Throwdown, the students were tasked with optimizing network paths to preserve application performance in the midst of unpredictable network conditions.

On Thursday, August 18th, each team of students regrouped at CENGN’s headquarters in Kanata to present their solutions to a panel of judges. But before the presentations began, there were some special guest speakers to get things started off, including MP for Kanata-Carleton Karen McCrimmon, and TELUS Chief of Security Officer Carey Frey. Both speakers impressed upon the attendance the importance of technology in today’s changing markets and the strong role young professionals will have in ensuring Canada remains a leader in next generation networks.

Tensions were high as team names were pulled from a hat to present in front of the audience. The judges evaluated the teams based on a number of criteria, including the team’s understanding and representation of the problem, the value of the proposed solution, and overall presentation and demonstration quality. The judging panel was made up of esteemed SDN professionals, including representatives from Telus and Juniper Networks, but also IHS Markit, SDN Essentials, and Natural Resources Canada -Industrial Research Assistance Program.

After witnessing the first presentation and hearing the difficulty of the questions raised by the judges, all those in attendance knew this competition was the real deal. Over the course of the day, all eight teams were able to showcase their talents and give it their all in front of the judges and the large communication networking companies attending the event.

In the end, the three teams to place were as follows:

First Place – Technocrats (Isuru Gunasekara – University Ottawa, Manosh Jayawardena – University of Ottawa, Sameer Sultan – Carleton University)
Second Place – Atom (Karpakam Muthukumar – Carleton University, Wijaya Ekanayake – University Ottawa, Sankarsha Sakkarepattana – Carleton University)
Third Place – Code Art (Zhe Zhang – Carleton University, Decheng Zhang – Carleton University, Jirao Wang -Carleton University)

First Place Winners -Technocrats with Judges
First Place Winners -Technocrats with Judges

As for us at CENGN, we were proud to be able to host the event at our home office in Kanata, and were thrilled with the level of competition the SDN Throwdown brought to our doorstep. The students, win or lose, were provided the opportunity to talk to the head talent and recruitment agents of both TELUS and Juniper Networks whom they had just wowed with their knowledge and critical thinking presented during the competition.

But for many students it was the ability to use today’s top technology to solve a real SDN problem that makes the Throwdown such a unique and fulfilling experience. As event winner and Team Technocrats member, Isuru Gunasekara, stated after the event, “The TELUS – CENGN – Juniper SDN Throwdown competition helped me understand how software can be used to develop intelligent networks. Interacting with a commercial network controller and solving a customer problem helped me and my team get a clear understanding about what skills are required in the industry.”

On behalf of all the team at CENGN, we applaud each and every competitor that put themselves out there for the competition. We also want to thank Juniper Networks and TELUS for the fantastic opportunity to host. The SDN Throwdown is a great experience for all those involved and a great way to see the rising stars in next generation networking.

Check out more pictures of the event on CENGN Instagram! We’ll be posting them all week!

SDN Throwdown in the Media:

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About the Author

CENGN, Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks, drives technology innovation and industry growth through our testbed, technical expertise, talent development, and partner ecosystem. Through our projects, CENGN enables small and medium Canadian Enterprises to test and validate promising technologies, removing barriers to product commercialization and accelerating market growth.

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