8 Skills Network Engineers Need In 2017

Find out what skills and know-how will be essential in enterprise networking this year.

The daily job duties of the average enterprise network engineer are becoming increasingly fluid over time. What once was a relatively static role responsible for managing the transport frames and packets from point A to point B has evolved to become a liaison between the admins responsible for the network, the servers, and the storage infrastructure. In 2017, this evolving role will require network engineers have a broader skill set in order to properly align the network with business goals.

Because network engineers sit at the heart of the infrastructure, they are now required to have a deep understanding of the applications and data riding across the network. This is especially true given the fact that the silos of server and storage administration are being torn down thanks to technologies such as virtualization, containers -- and more recently -- hyperconvergence. Because the network is the nucleus that binds these technologies together, the network engineer is responsible for understanding their integration from end to end.

Other skills that network engineers now need revolve around the applications themselves. With technologies like automation and SDN, networks of today are tailored around the critical applications running across them. Therefore, engineers must be able to understand application priority, traffic flows, and other policy to optimize data transport. The days of network administrators only having to understand layers one to four of the OSI stack are long behind us. Today, we must understand the stack all the way up to the application layer.

Finally, security is going to play an increasing role in the daily duties of the network engineer. Security is no longer an afterthought, but the first step in any new infrastructure project. It's up to the engineer to figure out the company’s perimeter and internal defenses to provide a unified security solution that expands from the network to the end device.

Let's take a closer look at technologies you should understand and  skills you should be prepared to master in 2017 as an enterprise network engineer.

(Image: geralt/Pixabay)

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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