End of Year Trends and Predictions – Part 2


My last blog post dipped into a couple of trends highlighting what I expect to see in 2020. I addressed the trends that NFV and SDN are dead and how programmability is starting to consolidate and standardize above the network elements. Both are good examples of how programmability is going to drive automation into the next decade. Today, I want to address two more trends I am seeing that are going to creating a shift in the network and how IT connects everyone to everything.

The first trend is something we have heard for a few years now, that the CLI will die in 2020. I have jokingly said to others on this topic that if NFV and SDN are dead then why is CLI still alive? Even though I joke about this, it is undeniable that there has been a downward trend in the use of CLI as a primary configuration channel as programmability continues to be adopted and leveraged across the network. However, we still see a lot of network elements that haven’t taken the leap to programmability yet. This can be due to the legacy elements that are right at the edge of needing to be updated or replaced. With the advancements in programmability and automation in the network, the CLI will be used less and less as new elements are added to replace legacy systems.

So, will we see the complete death of CLI in 2020? No, not really, but we will continue to see it use slowly go away as more and more networks become programmable and automated. CLI will survive in the dark corners of the network where we are forced to script to it because legacy devices haven’t been replaced yet.

The next trend is the consolidation of responsibilities and capabilities in the network. The main thought in the minds of network admins today is how to evolve, stay competitive, and not become obsolete in the fast-paced world of network operations.

I expect to see more consolidation of responsibilities in 2020 due to network admins and engineers being required now to be multi-disciplined in programming, application deployment, and automation using APIs. For instance, Cisco has revised a number of their certifications and is weaving in more and more programmability into what it takes to be Cisco Certified. In the past, network admins and engineers didn’t see what they were doing as programming the network or the devices. Today, these roles are consolidating where they are now required to know both the network admin and programmer functions. For instance, Python today has become a key skill in order to be a network admin.

I attend a lot of conferences and am surprised at how packed the Python learning sessions are, as more and more network engineers are hungry to get this knowledge in order to manage what is next in the network. Programming knowledge and capabilities have become a must-have skill and no longer can be a “nice to have.” Without programming abilities, network engineers of the past will become obsolete.

Complexity will continue to grow in the network and at a much faster rate than ever before. 2020 will the year of network automation innovations and connectivity at never before seen speeds. Being at the top of these trends will require a lot of thought, knowledge, and, in many cases, luck. But with the right programmability capabilities in place, you will be able to beat the competition and be relevant in this ever-changing world.

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