I did not write any blog post after I started this blog on the 1st January this year. Apologies for that! It was a real shame, because I was highly motivated to work on my CCIE studies and share my progress and experiences with the community. But then my priorities and my focus dramatically changed to 100% Network Automation. It was not only because of the customer requirements within a current project, there is also a huge request in the market. And I need to jump on it…
The topics Network Automation & Programmability are already part of the CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure with a separate sections containing 15% of the overall exam topics which shows how important it is nowadays. Together with the fact, that one of my customers did a really huge change to the network team and put a lot attention to Network Automation opened my mind much more than before. The speed and the passion the customers directors put into the transformation of a traditionally Network Engineering Team to a Network Engineering & Automation Team was impressive. It also let me thought of starting a new initiative for the tech team of my company. I will cover that topic separately in a later post.
Besides the points mentioned above, Cisco started a final run for the DevNet class of 2020 and extended the initiative until mid of February 2021 with really good discounts for courses including exam vouchers. Needless to say that I jumped on that train to obtain the Cisco Certified DevNet Associate certification. I already wrote a feedback on LinkedIn because during these times I thought I will not continue this blog anymore, but hey, here we are!
First Steps on Automation and Programmability
In June 2019, I achieved Cisco’s Network Programmability Design and Implementation (300-550 NPDESI) certification. As I remember right it was one of the first Cisco certifications in this direction. Meanwhile it was retired and Cisco started the DevNet program. So I was already familiar with some Agile Software Development, Programming Designs and Methods, APIs, basic Python Programming, and tools like Ansible. To summarize, it was not really hard for me to dive into the topics again and refresh my knowledge.
But from where should you as a Network Engineer start when you are at the beginning of the Network Automation journey? Where should you start in case you already have some knowledge? Here are some recommended resources:
The Cisco Developer Network
The Cisco Developer Network or short Cisco DevNet is one of the best free resource to start your journey on Network Automation. It has a huge amount of self passed click-through courses combined into specific modules and learning tracks for several products and topics. There are always-on and reservable Sandboxes for testing and playing around with various products and technologies. Code exchange is great resources to discover code shared by the community for the community. I highly recommend to use all of the DevNet resources as much as you can.
Cisco Learning Network & Store
The Cisco Learning Network is another resource for all information about Cisco certificates and additional course materials. There is also a big community section where you can place your questions or help others with any technical or study related topics. Articles, interviews, and blog posts from Cisco Designates VIP’s are also shared and you can attend on Live Webinars. Don’t worry when you miss a webinar, because they are always recorded and shared afterwards. The Cisco Learning Network is really a great win for the community and it makes all of us better.
The Cisco Learning Network Store is offers various courses to purchase for preparing for Cisco certifications. From my experience and the courses I purchased so far it is a combination of videos, reading, lab sections, and quizzes at the end of each section. You can also purchase licenses for Cisco Modeling Labs to build your own labs. Always look here for any special offers where you can save some money for a limited time. Usually all offers will be announced in the Cisco Learning Network.
Usually I would recommend only books which I have read from A to Z to provide a appropriate feedback, but with technology books you often pick only chapters out of the books which covers your current needs. Here are some recommendations of books I have either read from A to Z or just partially:
- Network Programmability and Automation: Skills for the Next-Generation Network Engineer (Jason Edelmann)
- Automate Your Network: Introducing the Modern Approach to Enterprise Network Management (John W. Capobianco)
- Cisco Certified DevNet Associate DEVASC 200-901 Official Cert Guide (By Chris Jackson, Jason Gooley, Adrian Iliesiu, Ashutosh Malegaonkar)
- Network Programmability and Automation Fundamentals (By Khaled Abuelenain, Anton Karneliuk, Jeff Doyle, Vinit Jain)
- Mastering Python Networking (Eric Chou)
My recommendations cover just a small part and there are many other very skilled and talented writers out there with great books. Go and search for it!
Blogs & Channels you need to know
Besides the book recommendations there are a lot of great blogs out there to follow. Here is a list of blogs I do follow regularly:
- AboutNetworks – Let’s Talk About Networks
- DevNet Dan – All things networking and automation
- Lost in Transit – Daniels Networking Blog
- NWMichl Blog – Networking, Automation, Infrastructure as code, Telemetry
And here are some YouTube Channels I do follow:
As I said about book recommendations the same applies to blogs and channels, there a lot more great people out there who create good content and here is just a small choice.
Please stay with me
Please stay with me although I was not really consistent in writing, but I will try my best to be better at this and share more thoughts and experiences with the community. Not all posts might be technical, because in my dual role as CTO / CIO and Network Engineer in my company I have always interesting non-technical things to share. Thanks for your interest!