What do Cisco network engineers do?
From Cisco to Network Engineers – Get to know the software comfortably. He’s here to stay
The transition to software-defined networking (SDN) was the catalyst for launching a whole new way of working with networks, through software. Some may argue that network engineers have been using the software for decades because every good router user had a laptop full of scripts and templates that could be cut and pasted into the command line interface. This ad hoc model is very error prone and not scalable, so human error still accounts for a large portion of network downtime.
Historically, Cisco hasn’t really helped its customers become more adept at software. Sure, I had programs like the Cisco Technology Developer Program (CTDP) that were meant for developers, but what about a network engineer? A person who wants to do their job more efficiently? For that audience, Cisco had no answer.
However, a few years ago it looked like the switch had been switched and the company released its latest and largest software program: DevNet. Unlike previous iterations of development environments, DevNet has focused on software developers, but has special programs for Cisco network engineer.
I know this concept can be a bit overwhelming for a networking professional because most have never made an API call or worked with any type of modern programming language, but Cisco has structured many of its programs specifically for that audience. For me, this is key to DevNet being successful over time as not everyone wants to be a software developer, but there is no reason why software cannot make life easier for the engineer.
This week, Cisco held its first DevNet Create event, a conference dedicated to helping network users gain more software skills and getting software people to know Cisco better. In recent years, Cisco has had “DevNet Zones” at its user conference, Cisco Live, but this is the first dedicated event.
The keynote address at Cricket was Susie Wee, Cisco Vice President and Caveat for DevOne Innovation CTO, the mastermind behind the program. I’ve been chatting with Cisco for various disconnected software programs since 2001, when it acquired
Metros, but Wee formalized and bought from executives at John Chambers, who founded the program when he was CEO.
During the keynote speech, Wee said the world is powered by software, and in 2017, 111 billion lines of new code were written, Cybersecurity Ventures reports. In addition, the software is much more powerful than hardware, and in this digital world, where companies need to move at speed, software skills are now essential. Once again, I would like to say that I don’t want all CCIEs to become software developers, but I tell this audience to work with software through APIs and modern programming languages like Python and Ruby. The time of the domestic scenario must end.
The lines between applications and infrastructure have declined.
Perhaps the biggest finding Wee pointed out during her presentation was that the lines between apps and infrastructure have grown tired. In the past, there was a clear distinction between the world of applications and infrastructure. Software developers and people with an infrastructure rarely talk to each other and sometimes have an almost hostile view of the other side.
Today, however, the world has changed and lines are blowing between applications and infrastructure, requiring the network to be programmable. Mobile application developers and DevOps rely heavily on the infrastructure that provides APIs for the North to change application behavior based on location, density, or other functions. The software infrastructure only changes the nature of the network and adds more value to applications, which adds more value to the company.
Another key point to understand is that as businesses become more digital, software infrastructure will become more important for the cloud, security, analytics, and the Internet of Things.
Make no mistake: We live in a world where literally everything is connected, so the network is becoming the single biggest determinant of digital initiatives. The operation of the network with the old methodologies is slow, it is not very dynamic and the company will keep it back.
For all the Cisco technicians who are here, and this group is huge, I agree with Wee and I believe that YOU MUST work with the software more comfortably, because that is the future of the world and, more importantly, the future of your career. If you feel scared and not sure where to start, check out the DevNet community – there are many tutorials, tools, and other resources to help you get started.