Ronny Lam


CLIs and APIs, Welcome to the New World

Another excellent post at F5 DevCentral about how the skills a network engineer needs are changing.

Skills that enable operations to programmatically insert services and policies into the network using network-side scripting languages like node.js will become more and more valuable as organizations begin to leverage the opportunities afforded by the more fluid network and application network architecture inherent in SDN and cloud computing models. It’s not that your operational skills are becoming obsolete, it’s simply that the methods of applying the knowledge you’ve gathered over the years are changing. You’ll use APIs instead of CLIs and HTTP instead of SNMP. You’ll just need to learn some new skills, in order to apply the very valuable skills you already have.

In practise I see a lot of engineers that are married to the CLI. They think that no tool or script can create better or faster configuration than their 10 fingers. This is not the fault of the engineers alone, network vendors are also at guilt. Their main configuration interface is most of the time still the CLI. In order to move engineers of the CLI the vendors have to create better APIs. Netconf/Yang, SDN and Openflow are a great move in the right direction, now it needs to be adopted to more devices.