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?

The future of the Network Engineer

As any engineer or follower of the world of networking knows, SDN is a prevalent topic with regards to the future of networking. Pretty much since I started hearing about SDN concepts and how they apply our the industry, people have been asking, and people have been trying to answer the question: What does this mean for the network engineers of today? And the real answer obviously is nobody knows for sure. Undoubtedly our jobs will change, but nobody can put a date on a calendar saying when the job you have now will be irrelevant. As many people have said before me: change is the constant in the world of technology.

With all of this mind, I was looking through the session catalog for this year’s Cisco Live U.S. There are many sessions addressing Cisco’s specific solution for the general concept of SDN–Application Centric Infrastructure. There are also some sessions on other areas of the SDN spectrum, devops and openstack are two other topics I saw. There is also a session on the changing role of the engineer. I think this might be interesting to see where Cisco thinks the role of the engineer is going versus what else has been written.

BRKCRT-1601 –¬†Evolution of the Job Roles with Introduction of Open NetworksNetwork Programmability is changing the way IT professionals are operating and how applications can be integrated into the infrastructure. Learn how Cisco is addressing the challenges and opportunities of creating the new workorce facing new technologies like Cloud and Network Programmability. We will be sharing the evolution of the Data Center Certification portfolio to support Partners and Customers in the journey towards the cloud and the new paradigms of network programmability

It looks like the certification track of the data center will also be discussed. The CCIE Data Center has only been around for about two years, so in my opinion, it seems a little soon for Cisco to announce a version 2 of the exam. But that is just my opinion, I don’t know anything.