Two years ago at DevNet Create, DevNet’s annual developer conference, we premiered the “DevNet Creator” awards to recognize and spotlight DevNet members for their leadership and contribution to the DevNet Community. With DevNet Create 2019 already a distant memory, we wanted to check in with this year’s DevNet Creator Award winners to see what they’re up to.

Joel King works at World Wide Technology, a Cisco Gold Certified Partner and Learning Partner with Master Specializations in cloud, security, and unified communications. He has been a DevNet Community member from the beginning. Joel was recognized for a DevNet Creator award this year for his work creating an Ansible + Tetration project which he shared with the DevNet Community on DevNet Code Exchange. He also contributed blogs to DevNet’s popular blog forum including, “Using Tetration for Application Security and Policy Enforcement

We reached out to Joel recently to ask him about his journey:

Q: Why did you join DevNet?
A: I’ve been involved with DevNet and the DevNet Create conference from the beginning because of my role at World Wide Technology (WWT). I joined DevNet to focus on Software Defined Networking. WWT and Cisco maintain a close partnership, and I’ve been lucky to see our two companies work together to solve some of our customers’ biggest SDN challenges.

Q: What did winning a Creator award mean to you?
A: Winning a Creator award is a validation that a network engineer can successfully transition from a CLI (command line interface) world to an SDN (Software Defined Networking) world. The key is the ability to ‘think like a computer scientist’ and view the network as one big software system. With that mindset, DevNet can help network engineers learn the tools and techniques to interface with a programmable network. The ability to code is important, but also the ability practice sound software engineering methodologies.

Q: What has surprised you most about DevNet and the DevNet community?
A: The rapid growth of the number of registered users on developer.cisco.com is amazing. Susie Wee announced at DevNet Create in April there were over half a million active users! Those numbers validate the transition we are seeing in the industry. I have been focused on SDN for the past 6 years, but recently the interest and adoption rate has passed the “knee” of the curve and network automation is critical to operating networks.

Q: What advice do you have for those just joining the community?
A: It is important to find a mentor and a peer group to exchange ideas and viewpoints. Learn from others. Look at other how other developers write code. Emulate those who practice good code craft. Don’t be afraid to get started, but also constantly improve your coding style. Be consistent and deliberate, with attention to detail. Don’t be afraid to ask people to contribute to your ideas. Two years ago I gave a presentation at our virtual team meeting titled ‘Learn To Think Like A Computer Scientist‘. I asked peers to write an algorithm to enable using the Tetration API. I was surprised at the number of responses, with examples in Python, Typescript, Java, and C.

Q: What new technologies/innovations are you most excited about?
A: I continually evaluate what skills I need to learn to be most effective in my career. In workshops, I describe the goal of network operations to support their users by combining the automation process (code, playbooks, etc.) with configuration data to deliver value to the business. Once the process has been developed, the key is manipulating data to define the state of the network. We use NoSQL databases to store and visualize network configuration data. I also recently published on Cisco Code Exchange utilities to manipulate tabular data. Analytics thrive on data. Network engineers need a working knowledge of various data base technologies.

Q: If you weren’t a developer, what would you want to be?
A: I like to create and build things which are both beautiful and functional. I studied fine art for a time in college. I would build a wooden boat, a bamboo or split cane fly rod, learn to weld and become a machinist. I have an admiration for artisans and craftsmen.

Q: Are you excited about the new DevNet certifications – if yes, why?
A: The DevNet certifications are both a challenge and opportunity. I was fortunate to have worked through the CCIE program (CCIE 1846) when the industry was transitioning from bridges and hubs to routers and switches. The networking world is in another transition, the ‘software defined’ transition. The process of studying for the DevNet certifications builds marketable skills.

Q: What are you most proud of in your career?
A: Perhaps not as much proud, but where I have gotten the most satisfaction is working on projects where people worked well as a team. The biggest challenge to most organizations is building effective teams. I like to emphasize that the technology is easy compared to developing teams.

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Amanda Whaley

Sr. Director of Developer Experience

Cisco DevNet