Software skills are becoming increasingly desirable for network engineers and architects, and the uptick in Cisco’s DevNet certification program reflects the trend. According to Cisco, there’s been more than 50 per cent growth in the number of DevNet certifications awarded in the past year.
Cisco says it no longer gives out specific numbers, but in 2020, nearly 8,000 participants earned some 10,500 DevNet certifications, including DevNet Associate, DevNet Professional and DevNet Specialist.
These DevNet certifications focus on coding, automation, network access, IP connectivity, security and application development on Cisco platforms, as well as what developers need to know about network doctrines.
Most recently, Cisco announced a new expert-level DevNet certification: Cisco Certified DevNet Expert. Exam topics for DevNet Expert are focused on software skills and include software development, deployment, and design; infrastructure as code; containers, network programmability and automation; and security.
“While CCIE topics have delved deep into the realm of protocol interaction, network design, and reliable and scalable infrastructure, with automation as part of that, the DevNet Expert takes a solid software-first approach as it pertains to the network engineer,” wrote Joe Clarke, a distinguished customer experience engineer at Cisco, in a blog announcing the new certification level.
The DevNet Expert exam is geared for network engineers who are working with new, automation-driven networks that lead to digital transformations across all industries, according to Clarke. “To deliver secure, agile networks, support the future of work, and provide capabilities at the edge, you need people who are experts at wielding software and automation to harness and shape the power of the network,” Clarke said.
Those who earn DevNet Expert certifications will be able to design and deliver the necessary automation solutions to transform a traditional network into one that enables digital transformation; they’ll also be able to build and lead a team to transform the culture of an organisation into one that embraces automation as the way to do networking, Clarke stated.
“You don't want to keep touching things manually. You want to build a nice hierarchy with a single source of truth that has a very clear picture of what the network should look like,” Clarke said.
“And then you want to automate not only the deployment of that, but the testing of that, so that you can get more confidence with the configuration changes you're making. So maybe everything is not fully software defined, but it's becoming more software driven.”
At the same time, the need for cloud networking, mobility and observability capabilities is also on the rise.
“The idea of total observability – to know that all of your services are healthy and how those applications are performing – is a hot topic right now,” Clarke said. “Nothing happens without APIs and touch points, and as we move more toward the cloud and more remote users, it will be more important to have network engineers be able to develop centralised policies for all those users to have the same experience.”
Data analytics and the ability to extract and make sense of key data from large data sets are growing requirements, too, Clarke said. DevNet skills can also help network engineers to handle the cloudification of the enterprise.
“With fewer people actually in the office, the requirement is that everyone still needs secure access to files and applications. How do we handle that?” Clarke said. “There are DevNet skills that give you the ability to know the network and tie together cloud elements in an effective way for the business.”
The first day that candidates can test for the DevNet Expert lab exam is expected to be May 2 of this year.