5 Hot Networking Skills for 2018 and Beyond

Network pros need a wide range of skills to manage cloud, network security, and more.

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In the fast-paced world of enterprise IT, professionals should always be on the lookout for new skills that employers need. For those of us in networking, the type of skills companies demand will continue to shift in 2018. Gone are the days when a network administrator could simply rely on a background of configuring and managing router and switch hardware. Today, networking pros are expected to have a wider range of IT skills and be able to work with a variety of advanced networking tools. Here are five cutting-edge skills that are likely to be in high demand this year and beyond.

Application analysis

It used to be that network administrators were only concerned with layers 1-4 of the OSI model. They paid little attention to upper-layer protocol information because the network had no way of differentiating between data flows that far up the stack.

However, modern networks have visibility and can make routing decisions based on information gathered up to layer 7. Network engineers are now tasked with analyzing application behavior as data traverses the network. This information is useful when performing tasks such as mapping application dependencies, identifying transport performance bottlenecks, and building complex network policies.



Network access policy enforcement

A sound security strategy begins at the edge of the network. Identifying, authenticating, and authorizing users is best handled at the network level. For years, some enterprise organizations have largely ignored these security platforms. More recently, IT leaders have begun to understand their necessity and have begun budgeting  appropriately. This is especially true for businesses that must adhere to increasingly strict compliance regulations. The implementation and management of tools such as enterprise mobility management (EMM) or identity and access management (IAM) is expected to experience significant growth for the next four to five years. That means that skills in this field are likely to be highly sought after.

Multi-cloud architectures

One of the biggest technology trends that has disrupted the field of enterprise networking over the past few years has been the widespread adoption of cloud-computing services. In fact, many organizations have gotten so comfortable with the cloud, they are taking a new strategy to production by architecting a multi-cloud strategy. The goal is to spread applications, services, and other computing resources across multiple service providers to achieve improved performance, cost savings, and resiliency. The responsibility for creating the most efficient data flows between the cloud service and end user is up to the network engineer. This requires designing for proper failover, disaster recovery, and understanding of direct connect options offered by cloud service providers.

IoT network security

Early attempts to secure IoT devices were made on the IoT hardware itself. Unfortunately, this proved inefficient as it is difficult to manage and ensure firmware patching for hundreds of thousands of devices. New security architectures are placing the responsibility of IoT security squarely on the network. This includes techniques to virtualize and segment IoT networks from others as well as centralizing IoT management using advanced software-defined technologies.

SaaS network monitoring

Since the inception of cloud computing, network engineers have  been tasked with monitoring connectivity network performance between the enterprise and IaaS or PaaS service providers. However, new network performance monitoring tools also enable network engineers to monitor access to SaaS providers. Networking pros familiar with these kind of tools will find their skills in demand.

SaaS performance monitoring tools such as Solarwinds NetPath and ThousandEyes Cloud Agents can provide detailed visualization and analysis of where latency or misconfigurations may be causing problems between your employees and the public service provider. These tools are also great for creating performance baselines over time that can be useful for quickly identifying where a problem is occurring.

Get live advice on networking, storage, and data center technologies to build the foundation to support software-driven IT and the cloud. Attend the Infrastructure Track at Interop ITX, April 30-May 4, 2018. Register now!


About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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