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What is Software Defined Networking Doing For Your Network Engineering Career?

Over the past decade, the near-universal push for digital transformation has forced organisations to become more adaptable to change, and because of digital building blocks like IoT, mobility and cloud rely on networks, network engineering has become key to adaptability.

Meanwhile, networking engineers have had to respond to the increasing complexity of IT infrastructure management by navigating the shift from a traditional hardware-dominated profession to one tied to the new generation of software-defined networking technology.

To thrive in today’s ICT industry, network engineers need to understand how new technologies integrate with traditional ones, and how technology impacts business outcomes.

What is Software Defined Networking?

Software-defined networking (SDN) technology decouples the control and packet-forwarding network planes to automate and accelerate the ability to make changes and provision new services.

SDN also enables the network to interface with applications directly via application programming interfaces (APIs) rather than going through the command line interface (CLI), creating seamless integration of software platforms to make networking far more flexible and faster to provision.

SDN represents an opportunity for network engineers to play more of a role in innovation by automating routine, tactical tasks to make changes to the network in real time. Professionals who once were tied to time-intensive tasks such as incorporating multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) or implementing IP telephony can now use a software-defined network (SDN) to perform tasks that have in the past been done manually by systems administrators. This allows them to make changes quickly and from a centralised point – reducing bandwidth costs while improving cloud and application performance.

What enterprise needs now are people who understand the fundamentals of networking – routing and switching protocols, hardware security, wireless networks – as well as orchestration and automation, leading some IT pros to develop programming skills.

Surging Demand for Cloud Skills

For some networkers, learning about DevOps (development and IT operations) software development methodology will be essential. The DevOps principles of rapid development and continuous innovation encompasses software development and IT operations teams working more closely together from design to production, and drives the network to be something a lot more agile and updated on-demand.

For others, understanding how to manage network traffic across private and public clouds will be critical to their success. A recent survey of more than 2,800 IT decision makers in the USA by Robert Half Technology found that cloud computing is by far the top skill employers are investing in, followed by security, project management, data science and machine learning/artificial intelligence.

Life-Long Learning

Network professionals now need to manage a larger suite of resources than ever before, such as cloud, security, IoT, AI, and even learn how to make API calls and write basic scripts.

To acquire the knowledge they need to stay competitive in their careers, network professionals can do a few simple things to help them stay informed about the latest industry trends and technology and its implications for their working lives:

  • Identify key analytics and BI thought leaders to follow, as well as general product enthusiasts, who can offer a more objective opinion then the manufacturer or developer.
  • Webinars are ideal for seeing the big-picture or step-by-step approaches to network development.
  • Connect with technology partners and vendors – they can be excellent channels to pick up new skills as they genuinely want to see networkers gain a better understanding of their products and services.
  • Build communications skills for C-suite executives so technical issues can be discussed in a way that fits their perspective and understanding.

Visit the Console Connect website to access the Content Hub – our ever-growing library of free resources for developing your networking expertise and industry insight – or join the Console Connect online community. Simply sign-up with an email address to access knowledge sharing and raise your company and professional profile.

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