One foot in the door, the other one in the gutter

The changing role of the network engineer. The devops future of network engineering. Network developers instead of network engineers. A python script to rule the network. Abstraction. Virtualization. Overlays. Underlays.

In the networking industry, are the changes happening quickly or slowly? Sometimes it seems like SDN is right around the corner, sometimes it seems like still a dream far away. Reserved for academics and people with more time than me.

I am very interested in the future of network engineering. I’ve been in IT for most of my adult life, and I have been dedicated to the network side of things for the past ten or so years. I am only 40, so its not like I can retire soon, not that I’d want to. I get excited about technology, I want to be part of this new wave of datacenter architecture. But…

I read blogs, I learn python, I run ODL and mininet on my laptop. All the while my day job keeps me installing and maintaining “traditional” networks. My knowledge of Nexus 7Ks is what pays my mortgage. So how do I keep my foot in the door of the new datacenter while selling the old?

I work for a VAR. We sell gear and services. There has been a push internally for as long as I have been here to emphasize the services over the hardware. But its hard to break old habits I suppose. The services, 90 percent of the time, are tied to a purchase of really expensive gear. I still think it is good gear, but until we have something in the SDN realm to sell, I’m stuck with traditional networking. It will be interesting for me to see where Cisco’s Nexus 9K and ACI go this year. Will my customers want it? Will my salesforce want to sell it?

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