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Will I Be Replaced by a Script? (The Future of Network Engineering)


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For almost 20 years, the networking world has been relatively stable. A handful of protocols have supported most networks the world over. Some of the biggest changes were circuit types evolving and bandwidth going up. Today buzzwords like SDN and DevOps seem to threaten our very existence as network engineers. We’re being promised centralized control planes, orchestration, automation, and disaggregation. But what does that mean for your career? Is the CLI-jockey an endangered species? Will a script replace my job? Let’s find out together in this fast paced talk from a NetNerd who’s been around the block, and then some.

Published in: Technology

Will I Be Replaced by a Script? (The Future of Network Engineering)

  1. 1. Will I Be Replaced by a Script? The Future of Network Engineering @ChrisGrundemann Principal Architect, Myriad Supply NYNOG Meetup #3 23 March 2017
  2. 2. Who’s talking? • 15 years in networking • On computers since single digits • Spoken at NOGs/NOFs in 34 countries • Started “SDN” research in 2011 • Principal Architect at Myriad Supply •
  3. 3. So… Will we be replaced by scripts? Let’s discuss…
  4. 4. a short answer: No
  5. 5. a slightly longer answer: Yes
  6. 6. a more accurate answer: Maybe
  7. 7. Let’s Start Over •Why are we talking about this? •Who are we talking about? •What might the future hold? •What can we do about it?
  8. 8. Why are we talking about this?
  9. 9. What’s a Script? “A program that automates the execution of tasks that could alternatively be executed one-by-one by a human operator.”
  10. 10. What is SDN? •Ask 10 people, get 12 answers •Openflow vs. Overlay •Intent based networking •Abstraction •A bunch of scripts?
  11. 11. A trend towards Automation •What we really want to do is: –Put information into the network –Get information out of the network •Humans are prone to make mistakes •In a changing world; Agility is king
  12. 12. The boogey man •Automation eliminates human jobs. –The robots are coming! –The robots are coming! •You can pry the CLI from my cold, dead, hands… –I’m not a programmer (and I don’t want to) –What’s an API?
  13. 13. Simplicity vs. Complexity “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.” •Revisiting abstraction –Closing your eyes doesn’t make the world disappear
  14. 14. Who are we talking about?
  15. 15. Internal IT (the corporate net) •Generalists •Operations focused
  16. 16. Data Centers (public facing) •Dedicated network staff •Specialized functions
  17. 17. Service Providers (ISP/NSP) •Networking company •Highly specialized functions
  18. 18. Consultants •Focus on –Design –Implement –Troubleshoot
  19. 19. Who’d I miss? •Do you have a NetEng job I skipped? –Tweet me: @ChrisGrundemann
  20. 20. What the future looks like from here…
  21. 21. Forget vertical, go horizontal •Architecture •Engineering •Operations •Provisioning •Help Desk
  22. 22. Does design still matter? •Humans innovate •Building efficiencies •Understanding the system •Products, services, and business drivers •Impact: new tools & constraints
  23. 23. Do we still need to build networks? •Calibrate intent •Capacity planning •Test functionality of new design •Implement design through software •Impact: less MoP, more code
  24. 24. What about troubleshooting? •Advanced monitoring •Autonomous remediation •Complex failures still present •Software systems deeply integrated •Impact: reduced headcount
  25. 25. Who provisions services? •Portals & APIs •Pre-built scripts •Templated configurations •Intent based policy control •Impact: essentially eliminated
  26. 26. Do I still need a help desk? •Someone has to answer the phone –Right? •What about Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc… •Don’t forget APIs and portals •Impact: vast reduction
  27. 27. In Short: If you are not replaced by scripts, they will become your colleagues
  28. 28. Can a script replace ME? •People vs. Processes •Repetition vs. Innovation •Quantitative vs. Qualitative
  29. 29. Now what?
  30. 30. My biggest concern •The NetEng on ramp…
  31. 31. The bigger picture •Automation is everywhere –Robot agenda on track •Goldman Sachs sacks 600 traders –Replaced by 200 IT pros •Seven Stages of Robot Replacement –Thanks Kevin Kelly
  32. 32. What did you expect? •The only constant is change •You work in technology •Learn and grow
  33. 33. Don’t forget •IoT •Video •Digital •Security •Population
  34. 34. The upside •This is really just the beginning •You have an opportunity to lead •Scripting / automation is more efficient –More efficient = More money •“What’s NetDevOps? Why?” (LC/N66) –
  35. 35. Where should I start? •Tutorial: NetOps Coding 101 (DS/N64) – – •Tutorial: NetOps Coding 201 (DS/N66) – •More automation videos at: –
  36. 36. More resources! •Network Automation Tutorial (NAPALM) – • • •
  37. 37. Thoughts from Tim O’Rielly •Scripts are workers, developers are managers •Algorithms are power tools for our minds •Physical and digital boundaries are blurring
  38. 38. My best advice •Creativity •Communication •Constant learning •Construe meaning •Don’t panic!