Network skills will need updating for the future, says Cisco

Network skills will need updating for the future, says Cisco

The so-called Internet of Things is upon us with predictions of untold billions of devices connected to the public network.

But along with the opportunity to be wirelessly linked to almost everything people touch will come greater pressure on network staff to broaden their skills.

That’s the opinion of networking equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc., which is in the process of overhauling its training and certification programs.

“Today anywhere from 10 to 12 billion devices are connected,” Tejas Vashi, director of marketing for the company’s Learning@Cisco division, said in an interview, while there are some 2.2 million people with Cisco certifications. If predictions are true that in the not too distant future 50 billion devices will be on the network “we going to need close to 10 million certified individuals. So there’s a lot of opportunity there” for upgrading skills.

In part that will also be because increasingly tasks like manually configuring routers and switches will become automated, he added. “Even though you were a routing and switching specialist, you will need to know how does cyber security play into this, how does mobility?”

Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) thinks in the future IT managers will be looking for new job roles around data analytics, security and big data, with positions like customer outcome evangelist, innovation specialist and cloud architect.

Coming soon are exams for business application engineer.

For example, last year Cisco changed its associate-level CCNA certification programs for engineers to better match requirements of employers, and this year added an Industrial Ethernet course for its IE 2000 and 3000 switches and a cybersecurity specialist certification.

Antonella Corno, product management lead for data centre training and certification products said in an interview that with the advent of software-defined networking, software developers will be needed to work with network architects. So Cisco is building a bridging program that will bring IT staff to where they need to be. One of Cisco’s newer certifications is network programmability developer

They will still need a solid networking background, she said, but there will be extra knowledge needed to deal with abstraction layers and programmable APIs.

The point is “your job is not against the wall,” she added, “it’s evolving. It’s growing, leaving you free from some of the repetitive work you had to do and enabling you to add more value to what you do.”

Their point is not only are network jobs evolving, but so is Cisco’s training and certification program. Cisco takes training on its products seriously enough that it is supposed to be a profit centre, Vashi said.

There’s no shortage of ways the company delivers training to its technical and sales staff, channel partners and customers, some of which is free, ranging from games on the Cisco Learning Network Web site for those wanting an introduction to networking, instructor-led training courses offered through 450 partners around the world, Cisco staff instructors for on-site training, virtual courses and labs, and 10-minute videos for fast problem-solving.


  1. It is true that skills are changing. And it is also true that this is unlikely to lead to the demise of the network engineer.

    The real point here for network engineers is that there is an opportunity to become an even more valuable resource. As we start to layer more orchestration on top of existing networks, there will be a tremendous value in people who understand how things work and who are capable of integrating and automating. A good CCIE who understands some programming, for example, will be a hot commodity.

    I wrote about this very topic last year:

    Mike Bushong (@mbushong)


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