19 Apr

Network Automation in our career

Automation is an abstraction layer. Abstraction layers mask complexity, but do not eliminate it. Someone will need to build and repair the robots. Is that still network engineering? Yes. Consider the following: Being an “automation expert” is akin to saying you’re a “screwdriver expert.” No one would describe themselves like that. In the same way, automation expertise isn’t helpful by itself. To effectively automate, you need networking expertise. You can’t automate what you don’t understand.
But, and this is also really true for the SPs 🙂
Enterprises move slowly when it comes to adopting new technology. In addition, old technologies have a strange way of never dying. Both of those facts suggest that network engineers will have a role to play for a long time. Truly talented networkers who are also effective communicators will get paid as network engineers for many years to come.
From Human Infrastructure 110
15 Apr

From CCIE to Cloud Network Engineer

An interesting article about moving from enterprise networking space to cloud networking role from Tom Taggart.
  • In the cloud the focus is more on the Workflows and Endpoints, in contrast to network nodes and transit nature of the Traffic.
  • Building blocks are changing from traditional physical (or VM based) appliances and their requirements (e.g.: racks, cables, power outlets, etc.) to software based solutions. The promise here is that the added abstraction layer(s) will remove or hide many of the complex details associated with the old building blocks.
  • The network transport for the Cloud is mainly Internet based (for the Edge), however large players like Google, AWS, Azura are building out a global backbone that is parallel to the global internet backbone. This might provide advantages for traffic related to cloud services between geographic islands. (e.g.: VPC islands)
  • Interaction with Infrastructure functions are possible using many of the client libraries, REST API or CLI-based SDK. Using a single Cloud provider provides uniform management-plane, and opens up the possibilities for an easy Infrastructure-as-code approach.
I would not let go all the IETF RFC’s for now, but the transformation of how we interact with the Network Infrastructure is already changing in the direction what public cloud provides.
08 Apr

Cisco ACI training materials

My notes from the past:

As always the first step shall be the Cisco Live 365 (and it is Free 🙂 )

https://www.ciscolive.com/online/connect/search.ww#loadSearch-searchPhrase=BRKACI&searchType=session&tc=0&sortBy=&p=
  • BRKACI-2000 – Introduction to Application Centric Infrastructure (2014 San Francisco)
  • BRKACI-2003 – Cisco ACI MultiPod/MultiSite Deployment Options (2016 Berlin)
  • BRKACI-2003 – Deployment Options for Interconnecting Multiple ACI Fabrics (2016 Las Vegas)
  • BRKACI-1002 – Introduction to ACI for Network Admins (2016 Melbourne)
  • BRKACI-2250 – Cisco End-to-End Datacenter Security Architecture (2016 Las Vegas)
  • BRKACI-2345 – Intermediate – ACI: What We Have Learnt from Early Deployments (2015 Milan)
  • BRKACI-1789 – Introductory – How to Perform Common Tasks in ACI (2016 Berlin)
  • BRKACI-1025 – Intermediate – Migration from Classic Design to ACI (2015 Milan)
  • BRKACI-2601 – Real World ACI Deployment and Migration (2015 San Diego)
  • BRKACI-2410 – Management and Automation of Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) with Cisco UCS Director (2014 San Francisco)

Cisco dCloud LAB, where one can find ACI specific labs. (CCO account required)

Books:

  • Policy Driven Data Center with ACI, The: Architecture, Concepts, and Methodology
  • Programming and Automating Cisco Networks: A guide to network programmability and automation in the data center, campus, and WAN

CLI:

Coding:

Use this learning track to create and link network elements in ACI. You will learn the different APIC interfaces, create API requests, write simple Python scripts, and work with the Cobra SDK, Arya development tool, and ACI toolkit. Example project to use Ansible with ACI

Blogs, others:

I would first start with the Cisco Live videos, and the dCloud Lab. The next step will really depend on the customer request and environment.
12 Sep

CCIE vs. Network Automation

I remember how challenging was to achieve my CCIE cert, and how much time I spent to study broad topics on a deep level, specially in terms of Implementation and Troubleshooting. Ultimately I have used this experience to move forward to Design and Architect space.

Of course there is also part of the CCIE preparation to practice a lot of Vendor specific commands, but let’s face it, if one not working in OPs, those commands will fade away quickly, but the concepts not, and you can still apply all the stuff, you just need more time, and get some refresh. On the long road, for me CCIE was never about CLI, but used those commands to understand the theories.

I’m big fan of Network Automation & Open technologies and used Linux before, and scripted stuff before. I think generally getting dev skills (Python) has real value.Ultimately we don’t like the boring stuff, so we try to solve interesting problems using creative ways.

Network Automation and development shall be the de facto way of working in the future,and an important skill but getting a CCIE is more about a personal & technical challenge, which is useful, and will be useful in the future also – in my view, although I agree that the exam shall include some aspects of network automation, and shall be updated to be more realistic.

So ultimately I would put an AND logic, and not an OR logic between getting Expert Level Certification & Network Automation. As the top engineers of the future will be expert in networking concepts, and effective in engineering and delivery, and will support the business using agile methods.