network-virtualizationTechnology that replaces the need for human interaction is often a sign of pink slip distribution. Many speculate that the advent of network virtualization technologies such as SDN and DevOps will, in time, spell impending doom for the network administrator. Others view it as an opportunity to strengthen the network admin’s value to his/her organization. Only time will tell.

In an effort to help us understand the advantages of network virtualization, Network World’s Jim Duffy debates the matter in his latest article:

There will be years where SDN, hybrid and legacy networks, and the applications and services they support, co-exist.

“While responsibilities will evolve and certain tasks will disappear, infrastructure and operations organizations will still have a need for network administrators,” says Forrester Research analyst Andre Kindness. “Even if an enterprise had a 100% SDN infrastructure, someone will be needed to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot the network infrastructure – a combination of SDN solutions, software, hardware, WAN services, and adjacent technologies.”

Change will be required for network admins to remain relevant in the software-centric world of SDN and DevOps — they must learn new skillsets/new tools.

Whatever gets deployed under the SDN/DevOps process will have to co-exist with legacy technology and use it as its foundation for many years. And the caretaker of that foundational network is the network administrator.

Network engineers with programming skills may be the best suited to make sure everything runs smoothly in the SDN/DevOps environment. The server admin and the application developer can define what the application or workload needs; but the network admin can make it work down to the device level, and ensure it stays up.

Brent Salisbury, one of the founders of DevOps networking-for-Docker start-up SocketPlane, recommends that network admins become steeped in the software building blocks of SDN and DevOps: Linux; Puppet and Chef provisioning; Python scripting; and popular provisioning and orchestration projects such as Docker for containers and Openstack for virtual machines.

For more information on the future of the network administrator, see the full Network World article.


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SDN: Network Administrator’s Friend or Foe?

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