Doctor Bill Miller is a CCIE (Number 23009) with fifteen years Consultancy experience ranging from Project Engineer to Network Architect and Technical Project Manager. He has worked in a wide variety of networking arenas both within the United Kingdom and internationally including Telecommunication Operators (Telcos), Mobile Operators, Power Companies, Pharmaceutical and Banks. He has a Doctorate and MSc Degree in Telecommunications and Information Systems Engineering and has published work in the United Kingdom and the United States of America (IEEE). He is presently specializing in Network and Network Security Architecture.
We have been having some discussion in the CCIE Club about Command Line Interfaces (CLIs) et al. Terry, Slattery, triggered the debate with comments about XML possibly being better than the CLI going forward, and other points about including discussions revolving around Software Defined Networking (SDN).
Anyway those comments and a project I have been working on recently got me to thinking – are CCIEs now becoming more programmer than “network engineer”. For example yes I am still spending a lot of my time working around IOS, and IOX-XR, etc - but I find on networking projects I am spending just as much time working with Linux networking – for example who hasn’t put a firewall on a Linux based machine – CheckPoint Secure Platform for example and now I am looking at routing software on an end server – working very well by the way. This Linux machine is actually running BGP via BIRD6. The BIRD project aims to develop a fully functional dynamic IP routing daemon primarily targeted on (but not limited to) Linux, FreeBSD and other UNIX-like systems and distributed under the GNU General Public License. It's a program well, a daemon, which works as a dynamic router in an Internet type network (that is, in a network running either the IPv4 or the IPv6 protocol (That explanation was for the Software CCIEs amongst you).
Now the whole point of this discussion and the point about the CLI, SDN, BIRD etc is that it appears we, that is CCIEs, are becoming more and more akin to programmers and Linux/Unix programmers at that.
I know Terry is going to slate me for this but come on admit it - how many CCIEs are sitting down at this moment actually doing something involving “real” network engineering that doesn’t involve creating a script, running a batch job, looking at iptables on a Linux machine or some other software related task.
I am now fully convinced that in five to ten years that CCIEs will no longer wax lyrical in their day to day speak about OSPF, RIP, static routes et al but about Software Defined Networking running on Virtual Machines, connected by Infiniband Switches using QDR running at 40Gbits/s, minimum (okay I will mention FCOE for the Cisco sensitive amongst you) and Virtual Routers, running their own lovingly handcrafted, well oiled, and virtualized scripts – the old CCIE three day Lab exam inclusive of cabling will be only a distant memory at the ends of their well-manicured and nail varnished fingertips. We will never be able to hold our heads high in the SAN CCIEs company again !!!!! We have become programmers.
Dr Bill Miller QGM C.Eng CITP CCIE