Being a Systems Engineer or really a “Sales” Engineer, I speak with lots of IT folks about products that Extreme Networks sells. Rarely do I have conversations around hardware features such as feeds and speeds or physical components. Every competitive networking vendor mostly has access to the same commodity ASICs. In the networking and infrastructure world software has become King or Queen. Software is the driving factor for change and creating some healthy competition in the Networking industry.
More specifically, what I spend time talking about is how software solutions can solve technical issues or enable the rapid deployment of new solutions regardless if it’s hosted on-prem or the cloud. There, I said it. It doesn’t matter where it lives. What matters is how it lives.
Everyone is Talking About Software
If you look around, you’ll find Cisco DevNet. It’s a fantastic resource that teaches you about open APIs, gives you access to Cisco sandboxes, and has tons of technical resources that focus on you guess it SOFTWARE. Juniper hosts NRE labs focusing on the Network Reliability Engineering model, which provides learning content around open source automation tools. Vendors continue to add open APIs not only to their hardware but software solutions too. Extreme Networks recently donated Stackstorm to the Linux Foundation for continued growth by the open-source SOFTWARE community.
SDN with one controller to rule them all is dead. However, people still want to be able to customize traffic flows. We want to stich different products together using customized workflows, automate those pesky CLI commands, and rid ourselves of having to make multiple mouse clicks in a GUI. Knowing Linux and open source tools will become necessary if you want to elevate your IT career.
Learn Something New
I’m not saying networking folks need to transition into programmers because we still need knowledgeable networking people with real-world experience. However, it wouldn’t hurt to step up your software game. I challenge you to take three of the most frequent CLI or GUI clicks you do every day and challenge yourself to automate some of your tasks. You may learn something new, have some fun doing it, and will become a software King or Queen.