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Why you might not need to be a network programmer

In this week's blogs roundup, an engineer argues that network engineers shouldn't all become network programmers, and a blogger says Cisco's Enterprise NFV will help simplify branch offices.

From network engineer to network programmer?

Although many industry observers say that the typical network engineer needs to become a network programmer or risk getting left in the dust, blogger Ivan Pepelnjak disagrees.

In a recent post, he wrote that -- despite the fact that he has spent more than three decades gaining network programming experience -- he would never even consider programming a production SDN or network automation system himself. He argued that he is better off leaving that kind of heavy lifting to software programmers with deep coding expertise. In other words, Pepelnjak seems to identify as a network engineer who programs, rather than as a network programmer.

To further fortify his position, Pepelnjak linked to two complementary blog posts, the first of which advocated understanding automation on a conceptual level -- emphasizing problem-solving rather than code-writing. The second argued that the current preoccupation with coding focuses on a problem-solving method at the expense of understanding the problem itself.

Read more of Pepelnjak's thoughts on why you don't need to become a network programmer.

Cisco's NFV architecture news deserves a slow clap

On Packet Pushers, network engineer Will Murrell shares his take on Cisco's Digital Network Architecture (DNA) updates. Murrell said he was pleased to see that Cisco has upgraded its SDN controller, APIC-EM -- with changes that apparently rectify the previous version's scalability limitations.

Murrell expressed the most enthusiasm over Cisco's Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) news, saying that the developments -- which enable greater simplicity at the branch office -- deserve a "slow clap." Enterprises will now be able to consolidate virtual network functions (VNFs) onto ISR 4000 routers, with one-touch deployment -- although Murrell noted that he would have liked to have seen zero-touch deployment. Eventually, Cisco plans to also offer enterprise VNFs on x86 devices.

Check out the rest of Murrell's thoughts on DNA and NFV here.

Do you have a plan for managing SDN/NFV?

Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates based in Boulder, Colo., recently wrote that enterprises need to weigh how they will manage SDN and NFV technologies in their networks well before deployment.

McGillicuddy suggested that, in a software-defined network, a network management system should integrate with the SDN controller, allowing for SDN device configuration and the collection of network performance data. In NFV environments, network management systems must integrate with cloud orchestration systems.

Enterprises should also consider whether they are positioned to manage hybrid networks that combine SDN and legacy technology. McGillicuddy encouraged IT admins to ask their vendors for SDN and NFV management roadmaps before beginning a transformation project.

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