Change or Die: Network Engineers Must Embrace New Technologies

Advancements in networking technology will make all our lives easier, leaving no reason to cling to the old ways of managing network devices.

JR Garcia | Sr. Solutions Architect, Networking | vCORE

“Change or die.”

Journalist Alan Deutschman, in his 2007 book by that title, discusses the refusal by many individuals to make changes that could potentially save their lives. Those struggling with obesity who refuse to cut fast-food from their diets, for example, or smokers who continue to puff a pack a day despite the health risks.

Nearly two-thirds of well-informed, intelligent people with validated information from doctors will not make the changes necessary to extend their lives, according to Deutschman.

I put today’s network engineer in the same category.  Many networkers continue to manage their devices box by box using SSH, telnet, and CLI – despite knowing the industry is moving toward automation, programmability, and controller-based configuration. Too often, we spend our time memorizing commands and reusing configuration templates from past projects while the rest of the industry races forward.

Imagine being a server engineer 10 years ago who refused to learn virtualization. That person probably isn’t in technology anymore.

The network industry is typically 5-10 years behind our compute/virtualization counterparts. We are finally starting to see scripting, APIs, and automation creep into our world, just like it has in other aspects of team challenges

With that comes new skill-sets and a new breed of network engineer. CLI jockeys will need to learn python to help automate those old CLI tasks, and APIs to autoconfigure disparate systems.

Wouldn’t it be great if your network automatically isolated a laptop as soon as malware was detected on it? Or when the server team requests a VM, how much time would it save if all the VLANs, IPs, and firewall rules auto-configured, all on their own?

These advancements will make all our lives easier, helping network engineers address challenges like budget constraints, security, performance and provisioning time. So there’s no reason to cling to the old ways of managing network devices.

One easy way to get started? Download Postman here and start testing out various APIs. Any network engineer with Meraki in their network should start here. Let us know what you think, and if you get stuck — send us a note and we can help you on your journey.

As the worlds of development and infrastructure start to merge, organizations will need engineers who have a deep understanding of networking and how systems communicate. Those old CLI skills aren’t going away, they just need to be adapted to work in this new era programmability. Those that don’t adapt will end up like that server engineer 10 years ago that wanted to keep managing servers box by box.

In other words, change or die.

More from JR Garcia:

SD-WAN Demystified: Understanding a Disruptive Technology