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Is automation putting Network engineers in jeopardy?

  • Is automation putting Network engineers in jeopardy?

    Author SIDHIKI

  • Category Tech News

  • Posted On 2018-07-02 07:42:28am

Many people in the industry, mostly from non-technical, telling “CLI is dead and that the Cisco and Junipers will be replaced by cheap, “white-label” hardware.  Google, Amazon and Facebook are managing thousands of network devices with a handful of staff, using scripting and automation.  A CCIE certification is a waste of time, according to this thinking, because Cisco is shrinking down to automation.  Soon, it will all be code.  Learn Python instead”.

Yes of course Cisco does also focusing in programmability and automation.  

First of all, there is no question that interest in automation and programmability is increasing.  All of the vendors, including tecacs, are devoting a lot of resources towards developing and increasing their programmability and automation capabilities. Customers are interested in managing their networks more efficiently, sadly, sometimes with fewer people.

Let us imagine at this from a wider perspective.  As computing power increases, are humans redundant?  For example, as a pilot we know that it’s entirely possible to replace human pilots with computers.  Air Traffic Control could relay instructions digitally to the computers that now control most airplanes.  With ILS and precision approaches, airplanes could land themselves at most airports even in India.  But would you get into an airplane that had no human pilots?

The problem is, even in the age of Watson, computers react predictably to predictable circumstances, but predictably badly to unpredictable circumstances.  Many of the alleged errors that are introduced with CLI will still be introduced with NETCONF when the operator puts in the wrong data.  Scripts and automation tools have to power to replicate errors across huge numbers of devices faster than CLI.

At the end of the day, you still need to know what it is that you’re automating.  Networks cannot go away.  If all the Cisco and Juniper boxes out there vanished suddenly, our digital world would come to a screeching halt.  We still need people who understand what switches, routers, and firewalls do, regardless of whether they are managing them with CLI or Python.  Look at the cockpit of a modern airplane.  The old dial gauges have been replaced by flat-panel displays.  Do you think pilots no longer need to study weather systems, aerodynamics, and engine operation?  Of course they do! Similarly, we need network engineers, a lot of them, to make networks work correctly.

The reality is, programmability and automation is not substitute for Network engineers but is really for reducing the workload of an engineer. As a result enterprises can minimize the deployment time and maximize the output.

About Author:
SIDHIKI
(Network Consultant / Trainer)

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