5 comments on “On Being a Dinosaur

  1. Wonderful post! As a circa ’94 Network Engineer who got his start as an 18 year old Mainframe Operator in the Marine Corps and obtained my CCIE in 2006, this hits very close to home! The last few years has led me towards management and business development, though my heart still beats to the tune of ones and zeros. While I have authored winning proposals and CONOPS on Service Automation and NFV, I have yet to personally deploy service orchestration at scale. There is hope! I have recently built a new hybrid cloud lab with plenty of storage and compute resources to spin up anything I can dream up. The last 15 years after having children, my RSVP-TE agent (wife) assigned lab funds as scavenger class, discard eligible while soccer, school and home improvements were guaranteed assured forwarding with flash override :p That, and prioritization of that most precious resource, (time) to ensure all required endpoints (family) are not starved of resource allocation is a challenge that no amount of AI will ever solve. Love your blog – Look forward to reading more!

  2. Prior to my CCIE I spent 5 years writing code. 1997: All the new Object Programming Languages were coming out and IDE’s and I was a huge Delphi / Object Pascal guy. Then Microsoft decided that this was something they wanted to do, and Boreland went out of business in a year or two.

    Everything I hated about programming, all the bugs, endlessly trying to please users with their unreasonable expectations, hundreds of hours poured into tiny successes, were simplified for me when I learned CLI, and started into networking.

    I escaped a life of being a Microsoft Visual XYZ coder to become a CCIE, learn CLI. I left Delphi and Object Pascal 20 years ago, to delve into OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, IPX, VOIP, and master the IOS CLI. And now Cisco wants me to learn Yang / Conf / Perl / etc ?

    As of right now I think most of your audience is just Developers looking to get CCIE money. I sit in a room full of developers. I have no need to learn any of those languages. If I need something written it would be a colossal waste of my time to try to write it. Either someone else already has, and I can just download their code, or the guy behind me will do it in 4 hours add about 15 features I didn’t ask for, and be super excited he was able to Dev on the Network.

    Essentially this isn’t replacing the CLI Master, this is adding a Dev to the Network team. I pay Cisco good money to write IOS / IOS XE. I might use an overlay tool to rapidly and accurately deploy code, but I have no intention of writing my own DNA Center.

    • Thanks for your comment Brian!

      First of all, Cisco doesn’t “want” you to learn YANG or NETCONF. We’ve found that there is a huge demand for programmable interfaces from our customers, and so we are implementing them and doing everything we can to help network engineers take advantage of them. It’s really up to you whether you think that NETCONF/YANG or similar APIs are a good use of your time.

      I actually share your experience. I took a couple programming courses in college and hated it. I got into network engineering because, as you say, I could focus on protocols and just making stuff work, and I left the coding to others. When I came back to Cisco in 2015, I kind of fell into programmability. The way I look at it is this–there are a lot of tasks that we do repeatedly as network engineers with basically no automation. We use tools like Notepad to automate. If we have the capability to eliminate repetitive tasks with machine interfaces like YANG or tools like Ansible, why not do it?

      Despite being focused on programmability for several years now, my own coding skills are not great. I make a point of emphasizing that at Cisco Live and elsewhere. I’m not a coder. I don’t want to be a coder. I want to learn the minimum skills needed to make some stuff I do easier. My audience is not developers at all. My book, my Cisco Live sessions, all the work I do is targeted at network engineers, and my point to them is to stay network engineers. You can’t do anything with NETCONF/YANG if you don’t know what it is you are automating.

      Meanwhile, you don’t have to write Cisco DNA Center! I agree, let it do the work for you! That’s a perfectly acceptable way to deploy and automate your network. We’re just giving you options. Choose the option you want.

      If you are coming to Cisco Live San Diego, please check out my session BRKCRT-3075, “The CCIE in an SDN World”. I’d really like you to hear my presentation and perhaps have a chat afterwards.

      All the best.

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