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NetOps Transformation
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Solving the Growing Skill Set Gap in Network Operations

I was chatting with a friend of mine who leads a network operations organization in Ottawa, Canada and he was mentioning how his company is finding it difficult to find qualified people. When he talked with his colleagues, they were all experiencing the same thing.

At DIRE NetOps, we’ve been recognizing this trend for a number of years now. The issue boils down to this.

Engineers are required to be one of the most multilingual occupations on earth.

Let’s break apart a list of qualifications for a recent job post I was reviewing.

  • Firewall / Security skillset: Check Point Multi-Domain R80.30 (Provider-1 MDSM) environment, upgrades from R77.x to R80.30 GAIA, migrations from other vendors to Check Point, Maestro Hyperscale deployments, Check Point VSX deployments, Fortigate firewalls, including transparent mode deployment, Juniper NetScreen firewalls.
  • Advanced troubleshooting and debugging skills. Usage of Wireshark.
  • Automation skillset: Experience with Ansible , including ansible core and ansible tower, development of scripts, playbooks and workflows, usage of Rest API, and programming languages such as python, github, yaml.
  • Tools skillset: Experience in the usage of network tools such as AlgoSec Firewall Analyzer (AFA), Scrutinizer for netflow, NetBrain network automation software and HP NNMI.
  • Nice to have: DC environment working experience (Nexus 5K, 7K, 9K, Spine and Leaf). Exposure to Cisco knowledge (BGP, OSPF, EIGRP, DMVPN, GRE/IPSEC) and F5 Load Balancers experience (LTM + GTM/DNS, irules). Also any relevant certifications for the vendors listed previously.

In order for this Engineer to do their job well, they need to be fluent in 27 different ways of interacting with network data. And honestly, this is on the low end. I’ve worked with clients, who were not the mature NetOps organizations managing global networks, with upwards of 50.

This does not account for SOC, Service Management, Service Delivery, Engineering, Architecture, APM, and CI/CD teams that each have a different set of tools, but two things in common.

  • Everything they do is impacted by the network
  • They have limited capability to speak the network “language”.

There is a way to answer the problem of skills gap in your IT teams.

Recently “network as a database” platforms have come to market to fill the void and be the glue between the different teams. They all work in pretty much the same way.  

  • Translate requests for data into the different CLI, SNMP, and API calls required to collect it
  • Normalize responses so no matter how data was collected, you receive actionable insights in the same format

The results are exceptional:

  • Entry level Engineers quickly close the gap between traditional 2nd level Engineering levels, reducing escalations and mean time to repair.
  • Teams become more self-service reducing the incoming ticket rate into network operations centers.
  • The snowball effect reduces the workload at the top level of support, freeing time to resolve the backlog of problem or projects.

DIRE NetOps Can Help

If you find yourself struggling with your NetOps 2.0 Transformation, you are not alone. Let DIRE NetOps, our parent company and professional services organization, help you find the right tools to fill the gap, and transform your NetOps organization into a world class, well oiled machine.

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