A partner in education

This week at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming the winners of the eighth edition of the SENASoft competition. SENASoft is organized by the National Training Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje – SENA) which is a national public institution ascribed to the Ministry of Labor of Colombia. Its function is to provide professional training and formation to workers, youths and adults within th​e areas of industry, trade, agriculture and mining. This year the winners of the IT competition embarked on a trip to Silicon Valley and toured some of the biggest companies in the world to discover what the jobs of the future will be and how they can prepare for them.

SENA SENAsoft tech apprentices Cisco Silicon Valley DevNet CiscoCXC NetAcad

For Cisco, SENA is the largest education partner in Colombia delivering around 30% of the NetAcad training in the country. We cherish this partnership very much, invest a lot of resources in it and want to make it as successful as possible. In DevNet, for more than a year now, we’ve started working much closer with NetAcad so when the opportunity arose to present what we think the jobs of tomorrow will look like to an audience of young, talented and determined students, we wholeheartedly agreed.

DevNet and NetAcad partnership – Be the bridge

When the collaboration between DevNet, the team I’ve been a part of now for 3 years, and NetAcad started to take shape I was the first person to sign up and help out as much as I can. Having been on both sides of the fence, I know how NetAcad is set up and working, and the challenges they are facing. I also know the vision behind DevNet and the resources it brings. I was in a position to make suggestions and bridge the gap between NetAcad and DevNet, and I am very grateful for being given the chance to contribute. So far we’ve made tremendous progress with our collaboration from events, hackathons and packathons that we have organized together, to webinars, blogs, communities of interest, customized educational content, workshops and the list goes on and on. Be on the lookout for more news about the collaboration between these two teams. There will be many more surprises next year!

SENA SENAsoft, Adrian Iliesiu, Rick Tywoniak, Silvia Spiva, Cisco Conexion, CiscoCXC DevNet NetAcad

As a NetAcad graduate myself, seeing the energy and excitement in the students’ eyes reminded me of the time when I was in their shoes. Like them I was trying to see how I could differentiate myself in a competitive world and what skills I would need to secure the job I wanted. Wide-eyed and optimistic, having completed all 4 CCNA courses at the time I was ready to take on the world. Little did I know then how valuable those courses would turn out to be for my career and personal life! I believe the knowledge that I’ve gained through the NetAcad courses was integral and a differentiating factor for a large amount of projects and jobs I’ve held in the past 15 years.

I felt priviledged to be able to share my experience and lessons learned so far with my NetAcad peers from Colombia. My first piece of advice was just this: If you have the time and resources available, enroll in a NetAcad course and create a free DevNet account. Both of these decisions will pay dividends for years to come. You can actually log-in to DevNet with your NetAcad account, and be sure to specify in your DevNet profile that you are a NetAcad student or instructor so that we can better construct our message to you.

Cisco DevNet WeAreCisco Silicon Valley SENA SENAsoft Silvia Spiva Rick Tywoniak Adrian Iliesiu Customer Experience Center CX NetAcad


Network engineer and software developer – Be the bridge

I believe we are at an incredibly important point in the evolution of networking. I have not witnessed something of this magnitude in the past 15 years. Yes, the industry as a whole has changed a lot in these past 15 years but nothing like this. We’ve learned a lot of important lessons during all these years and decided that adding additional complexity as our networks grow is just not feasible. So we went back to the design board and started thinking about the networks of tomorrow that will have to connect billions of devices seamlessley, that will have to dynamically adapt and learn, that will have to be smarter, simpler and more secure. And we have come up with the network intuitive.


As a network engineer if you have not yet seen what the network intuitive brings to the table I would encourage you to start investigating and look into SD-Access and DNA Center for the enterprise as well as ACI for the data center. As a software engineer I would look at the APIs that the network intuitive provides, how can I use all the data that the network makes easily accessible to improve how I design, develop and maintain my applications.

As the lines between network engineers and software developers are blurring and skills from one domain migrate into the other, with the advent of DevOps and NetDevOps, the network engineers of tomorrow will have to be able to program the network and treat it as code, and the software developers of tomorrow will have to see the network as the biggest software development platform out there, similar to the Apple and Google mobile platforms. I am currently also improving my coding skills and making the migration to this programmable age.

My second piece of advice was: Learn coding if you are a network engineer, and learn networking if you are a software engineer. We have to break down silos and be able to discuss and understand the limitations and requirements from each other’s point of view.


The Latino connection

Speaking Romanian as my first language, I am fortunate enough to be able to understand to a certain extent when people speak Spanish around me. This has been both a blessing and curse over the years, as I would be able to understand converstations in Spanish but not be able to express myself. It was the same situation with the students from Colombia. Personally I found it to be much easier to find documentation and answers to my questions in Shakespeare’s language especially in relation to IT matters. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of speaking a second language! Being comfortable with and understanding English constitutes an advantage to anyone trying to differentiate themselves in a very competitive world. This would be another piece of advice for my NetAcad peers. Specifically for my Latino peers, please do not be scared or ashamed: ¡Hablen Inglés, chicos!

Cisco has been building bridges for 33 years. I mean, even the logo of the company is a bridge, go figure! From routing and bridging traffic between IP, IPX, AppleTalk in the early days, to bringing voice, video and storage onto the network to the biggest challenge of them all now: bridging the gap between the network and the application.

This brings us to my last piece of advice for the Colombian NetAcad students: Do not be afraid, there will always be change. Be passionate and adaptable, love what you do and there will be no limits to what you can accomplish.


¡Gracias por la linda visita!



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Adrian Iliesiu

Technical Leader

Cisco DevNet