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Stop thinking of yourself as a network specialist

Many network engineers position themselves as specialists, but one SDN blogger says it's time to stop. Also in this blog roundup: network resolutions and predictions for 2016.

In our weekly update from the SDN blogosphere, networking pros and analysts consider the fate of the network specialist, the 2016 outlook for SDN and New Year's resolutions to correct some networking "worst practices."

Why the network specialist needs to change

Will Murrell, a network engineer and blogger with Packet Pushers, has some advice for the network specialist: It's time to adapt. In a recent post, Murrell shared a story from his early days in IT, when he was told to learn everything about a narrow slice of the network. His would-be mentor promised that this approach would ensure both professional success and job security.

Murrell now argues, however, that the era of the network specialist is rapidly coming to a close. Thanks to SDN and related technologies, today's engineers need to have their fingers in lots of IT pies, including storage, servers, networking and security.

Read more of Murrell's advice for future-proofing your career, and find out how adopting a generalist's outlook helped him successfully tackle a big data center project.

Predictions for 2016: Data center SDN, SD-WAN and NFV

It's going to be a big year for software-defined networking, according to Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass.

In a recent blog post, Conde predicted that SDN in the data center will enjoy steady adoption throughout 2016, as specific use cases -- such as microsegmentation for security -- attract more users.

In the wide area network (WAN), he anticipates that -- if vendors can clearly explain their products' ROI benefits -- a growing number of enterprises will deploy SD-WAN. Conde also made an interesting pitch for the term "wide area SDN," rather than SD-WAN or SDN-WAN.

Finally, he wrote that enterprises will develop interest in service providers' implementations of network functions virtualization, particularly when it comes to uses such as service chaining.

See all of Conde's predictions for the year here.

Networking resolutions

In another recent post, Gartner's Andrew Lerner has some worthy New Year's resolutions for enterprise networking pros. The suggestions stem from 10 of the "worst networking practices" that Gartner analysts have observed in working with thousands of clients. These include vendor lock-in, outdated WAN architecture and risk aversion, among others.

Several of Lerner's networking resolutions include:

  • Treat vendors and service providers as suppliers, not partners. In other words, take their advice with some salt.
  • Request reference customers before investing in a new product or service.
  • Attend user-centric events, such as user groups or vendor-independent trade shows.
  • When making significant strategic decisions, consult an independent third party.
  • Don't outsource network design.

Read more networking worst practices and resolutions from Gartner.

Next Steps

Will today's network engineer be tomorrow's network programmer?

The future of network admins

What SD-WAN means for networking careers

Dig Deeper on SDN certification, skills and careers

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