Network engineering skills should include software fluency

Network engineers need to embrace software fluency training to meet business needs for modern network infrastructure.

May 22, 2018 2 minute read

Posted by TechTarget on May 22, 2018:

Network engineers need to rethink their network engineering skills and embrace software fluency training to meet business needs for modern network infrastructure.

After some initial years of resistance, network engineers increasingly understand the need to hone their software-based network engineering skills, rather than cling to traditional networking processes, according to ZK Research principal Zeus Kerravala.

Kerravala, who moderated a recent Cisco webinar on the evolution of network engineering, said digital transformation is driving the realization that change is required. That means engineers need to be comfortable with software-enabled network engineering skills and network automation.

"We're moving into a world that's a lot more network-centric," Kerravala said, and the network's role is ascending as a result. "If you look at a lot of the digital building blocks -- things like internet of things, mobility and cloud -- they are all network-centric in nature," he said.

The evolution of the network means enterprises -- and the engineers they employ -- have to learn how to harness software to both run the network and to connect to other platforms through orchestration. This shift is driving the formerly separate worlds of applications, networking and infrastructure to come together. The network needs to change so it doesn't hold companies back, Kerravala said.

Kerravala and a panel of experts offered network engineers advice on how to increase their software skills and gain experience in network automation that ranged from learning programming languages, to earning new certifications, to undertaking small automation projects on the job to gain experience.

In the digital era, network engineers and architects "need to speak the software language -- not be developers, but mainly be able to hold the conversation with software developers," said panelist and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) advisory council member Abdel Rezk, lead solution and network architect at World Wide Technology, a systems integrator based in Maryland Heights, Mo.

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