The networking sector of IT has proven to be surprisingly resilient. While other hardware-dominated sectors have faltered, networking has held its own. It still boasts a sizable and dedicated community. Witness the presence of the annual Networld + Interop show and publications such as Enterprise Networking Planet.
And the reason is simple: No matter the infrastructure, no matter if it is in the cloud or on-premises, virtualized or not, there is no escaping the need for fiber, cabling, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and other means of getting the data from point A to points B, C, and Z.
Let’s look at some of the major trends in networking jobs:
See more: The Networking Market
1. Learn the Latest Networking Technologies and Protocols
Russel Davis, chief operating officer at Vcinity, expects to see some changes in networking job requirements in 2022. Most network engineers in larger companies are dealing with an interesting mix of technologies within their local area networks (LANs). But fundamentally, it’s mostly Ethernet, TCP/IP, and fibre channel (FC). On the wide area network (WAN) side, it’s still basically TCP/IP and maybe some WAN optimizers.
“The growth of data at the edge and the need to process and/or move that data is likely to require network engineers to learn a few new skills,” Davis said. “The growing use of UDP (User Datagram Protocol) technologies like QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections) by the hyperscalers is one example of how fundamental change has to happen for the networks to support the changing landscape of data generation and consumption.”
Thus, it is time for veteran networking personnel as well as people new to the workforce to ensure they are well-versed in these newer networking innovations.
2. Storage Networking Opportunities
Davis also noted that protocols such as RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) and InfiniBand over Ethernet (IBoE) have grown in importance for storage networks. Networking professionals should ensure they add these skills to their repertoire.
“Storage networking has known for a long time that the most effective network utilizes RDMA technologies — this is becoming more commonplace for storage vendors and combined with technology like GPU Direct, adds yet more complexity to the network skill set,” Davis said.
3. Network Monitoring Centralization
Those monitoring networks need to ensure they bring their skills up to date rapidly due the pace of innovation. They must become comfortable with modern centralized network monitoring processes, which are vital in minimizing the complexity of modern networks and dependencies. IT departments can no longer depend on a hodgepodge of tools to map and monitor their networks. Instead, they must know how to correlate data from disparate resources and capture the big picture using network monitoring platforms that integrate with other monitoring tools and have plenty of built-in automation.
“A network monitoring solution that enables you to integrate with ticketing and communication solutions enhances your team’s collaboration, monitoring, and troubleshooting efforts,” said Sharon Abraham, a product marketer at ManageEngine. “This helps you centralize your network monitoring processes and avoid the hassle and capability issues of deploying different independent tools.”
4. Security Opportunities
In every area of IT, cybersecurity skills are becoming vital. No longer can the enterprise rely on a separate security team to safeguard networks. Everyone in IT and, in fact, every employee must share this responsibility. Networking is no exception. Networking personnel are now expected to fully understand the security implications of their actions and take care to avoid errors in deployment or configuration that leave pathways for attack.
“As the network is so essential in cybersecurity, this year is likely to bring an expectation for networking engineers to bring an almost equal contribution in securing the networks they are architecting and supporting,” Davis said.
5. Container Technology
A major trend affecting networking careers is that Kubernetes and software-defined perimeter (SDP)-enhanced stateful containers will make multicloud the architectural standard for deploying containers.
The vision of multicloud is to gain the ability to use workloads across different clouds based on the type of cloud that best fits the workload. This vision has typically depended on a virtual private network (VPN) to connect multiple cloud environments. That’s a problem because traditional VPN software solutions don’t do well in hybrid and multicloud systems as they weren’t designed for them. They’re complex to configure, and they expose slices of the network, creating a lateral network attack surface.
“Networking professionals should learn as much as they can about a new class of containers with integrated SDP security, which will enable them to help their organizations to eliminate these issues and disrupt the current deployment model for multicloud,” said Don Boxley, CEO and co-founder at DH2i. “Networking professionals will be well positioned for promotions and raises if they know how to leverage this new SDP-enhanced container to build smart endpoint multicloud container environments that can seamlessly span clouds without the added costs and complexities of a VPN and with virtually no attack surface.”
For those who want to really stand out from their peers, Boxley added, they should learn how to combine Kubernetes and SDP-enhanced containers to enable their organizations to build multicloud Kubernetes clusters with unparalleled portability. This new multicloud deployment will make it easy for them/their organizations to switch from one public cloud vendor to another.
With SDP-enhanced database containers, networking professionals in medium and large enterprise organizations will be able to achieve database-level high availability (HA) and DR with automatic failover in Kubernetes. This will enable them to deploy stateful containers to create new and innovative applications, while also improving operations with a near-zero recovery time objective (RTO) to more efficiently deliver better products and services at a lower cost.
See more: Networking Careers