The end of network engineers (part 2)

Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”
James A. Michener

In a recent post, I posed the question about whether we would soon no longer need network engineers. This was slightly cheeky of me.

Today I shall note some caveats on posing such a bold question, as well as providing my humble opinions on what the future may hold for this question:

  1. I think network engineers will still have a role at Service Providers (eg telcos, DCs, etc) for quite a few years to come. For example, if you look at the diagram in “a new category of OSS” you’ll notice that there is huge complexity below the red line, which means that SPs will still need a lot of very smart network and cloud infrastructure engineers to design, build and maintain all this stuff
  2. Our roles will change (ie no more E1 provisioning) but the engineers who will evolve to the new technologies (software-based) will certainly still be needed by SPs for the foreseeable future
  3. However, I think that network engineer roles at enterprise organisations may start reducing in number if the network procurement and cloud management tools become significantly easier to use
  4. The challenge for other SPs (and OSS vendors) is that cloud organisations like AWS are developing simpler self-serve user interfaces faster than any telco or OSS organisation, so they are gaining significant first-mover advantage. When combined with the fact that AWS currently seems to deliver service faster and cheaper than the telcos can match, there is a risk that the telcos will be shut out of the enterprise/retail market completely and are at risk of only providing dumb pipes that OTT players like AWS will consume.

There are a few other statements above that might raise eyebrows (including the quotable quote!). I’d love to hear your perspectives

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