For many years I was an ambassador for the motto “No matter what path you take, enjoy the ride.” Whilst I stand by this still, I recently realized that this guidance I had been using for thirty-two years could be a blocker in my future progress. So, now I will update my motto to be, “no matter what path you take, start in the right place and enjoy the ride.”

Needless to say, the scale of industry changes over the last few years has been profound. Being part of the modern-day engineer’s journey as we embrace a NetDevOps style of working, and seeing customer business transformation as they adopt automation workflows and success has been amazing. Every day we are seeing engineers and engineering teams within our customers and partners begin their network automation/programmability journey. And the most common question I hear as they embark is, “what path should we take?”

New job roles equal new opportunities

Firstly, let me dispel a common myth … network automation will not put anyone out of work. Network Automation does not mean network engineer roles will no longer be required. Nor do network engineers have to become software engineers. Network engineering will remain one of the most demanded skills in the industry, but they do need to be software-fluent and comfortable with writing scripts using languages such as Python, Ansible. They do need to know about making API calls, and working with software. Learning new skills has always kept engineers, at all levels, passionate and engaged with their work.

What are the new opportunities?

Stuart Clark DevNet Paths Certifications

Business needs. All businesses evolve. As large and ubiquitous as Amazon is today, it’s difficult to remember that it started in a garage. Businesses evolve to meet changing needs for customer experience, business applications, security, and operational efficiency.  so does the requirement for speed and agility. It’s no surprise to realize that as the business needs change, so to do the job roles to support (indeed to drive) that change.

Technology Needs: Technological innovation has forever been a driver of business change. The monolithic 800 pound gorilla of a network today needs the speed and agility so often found in DevOps practices for automation at scale. It needs self-serve network operations. Today’s network need to be built with secure CI/CD pipelines and designed, deployed, and managed like distributed applications.

This creates new job roles for network engineers, including (but not limited to):

  • Network Automation Engineer
  • DevSecOps Engineer
  • Network Automation Developer
  • IoT Architect
  • Cloud Automation Engineer

Choosing your starting point

I decided to start studying for my CCNA back in 2007. Way back then, I ordered the Cisco Press book, and read it cover to cover until I had the confidence to take the exam. Whilst this may not be the best way to study, it got me through the exam. Since then, I have taken more than my fair share of Cisco certifications and exams.

Now, choosing your path, and where to start, is significantly easier with Cisco DevNet.  Learning about what certifications are available, and how to study for them, is laid out for you on the DevNet Certifications website.

Visit the website to learn how you can develop the skills needed by the IT Teams of the future. Skills in areas like:

  • Automation at scale
  • Self-serve network operations
  • Distributed applications

Visit the website to learn how you can become a certified specialist in IT segments such as:

Stuart Clark DevNet Paths Certifications

Your Next Steps

  1. Review the Exam Topics and related study materials you will need to prepare for certification in your area of interest
  2. Visit the DevNet Dev Center aligned to your learning goals (listed below) to find learning labs, videos, and sandboxes to help you on your journey



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Stuart Clark

Senior Developer Advocate Of Community, AWS