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Networking is Changing: DevNet Info and Training Resources Can Help

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

If you're interested in growing your networking career, check out all the DevNet resources.

Source: Cisco DevNet Networking PageSource: Cisco DevNet Networking PageCisco supports a huge, inbound and outbound developer program through its DevNet Innovations unit. Its leader, Susie Wee, vice president and chief technology officer, delivered a fascinating keynote address at Interop 2017 in Las Vegas. Her talk emphasized the radical reshaping of the network business that's currently underway, as a massive shift into software-based networking – think software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) – is changing absolutely everything about the way networking gets run and the hardware on which it runs.

The primary shift is from proprietary hardware with specialized and insulated operating systems and configurations to programmable networks that automate network operations, orchestration and provisioning of network topologies, infrastructures, and services, and oversee networking monitoring and management. Lines between the data center and the cloud are growing increasingly blurry, and working with networks, today and in the future, means accessing services, including set-up, provisioning, troubleshooting and management all through APIs that interact with underlying software, with hardware distantly removed.

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How is someone to get a handle on all of this? Wee put forward the concept that the network functions as a focus for policy definition, enactment and enforcement, as part of an evolving and ever-changing technology landscape. Using malware as an example, she proposed developing software that can "make the network a sensor (of malware) and an enforcer" (of anti-malware policy and practice. Charles Babock at Network Computing said in his article "Cisco DevNet Preps IT for Programmable Networks" that such applications could, "tap into knowledge bases of malicious software and recognize its code pattern or behavioral pattern on the network." Babcock also reported that "Cisco detects and blocks 19.7 billion threats a day on the networks that it's monitoring…" (emphasis mine), a tally that dwarfs Google's 3 billion searches handled daily, by comparison.

Wee's vision of the network may be startling to some. It involves roping network programmers into working with IoT elements that include badge ID systems, fire alarm systems, networked vending machines, plus HVAC (climate control) and lighting management systems. The network already goes everywhere, so it's natural to bring all the sources of data, sensors, and video into the mix along with more traditional data and communications elements. Simply put, DevNet aims to deliver the programming tools, APIs, and technology interfaces necessary to tie all these elements together, while creating virtual, disjoint logical networks to separate specific functions and security levels across far-flung, ubiquitous physical networks. Such specialized logical network segments can share a single underlying infrastructure but will operate according to their own unique, well-defined, and infinitely flexible policies and performance requirements.

DevNet is set up to enable and support such efforts. As the graphic for the initiative's Networking Page shows, this includes support for developers seeking to learn the environment (left-hand side) with nuts and bolts silos for components involved at all levels of programming, set-up and configuration, provisioning, and management/monitoring (right-hand side). I was blown away by the volume and intricacy of what's on offer. Interested explorers will find ready access to training materials and labs, SDKs and development tools, and countless reams of sample code to show how it's done. The effort is wide open, publicly available, and community based. It remains to be seen how customers and users will adapt to and adopt these technologies, but it's certainly both interesting and highly promising. It's also worth digging into and learning about as well. If networking is of interest, you'll want to visit DevNet, and start exploring for yourself.