Death of a travelling salesman….and just about everyone else!

Sub title: Winter is coming
DISCLAIMER: You can only trust a mad scientist so much!

Interesting times we are living in today, especially in the teknology industry! As you may know, if you read this blog, I am an automation evangelist. I have developed network automation applications for HPE Comware, Arista and Cumulus Linux. I always looked at the future with my “George Jetson” eyes and not my “Soylent Green” eyes. To me the future is bright, push button, and so much simpler because we are moving into a world of amazing automation.

I have been testifying, for quite a while, that if you are a network engineer, you need to depart from the command line and start picking up some python chops. You need to learn how to code, be familiar with the DevOps process, run around your office and say things like CICD, Kubernets, and salt-chef-puppet!
If you’re in a meeting, get a quizzical look on your face and ask “What about ZTP?” Congratulations! You’re now a member of Team Automation.
Now for the bad news…..

When I used to hear the word “automation” I would think of the simplicity it brings to day to day drudgery. Eliminating the small insignificant tasks that quite frankly drive me crazy. There is also a dark side to this. Whenever I hear the word automation, I think “humans don’t touch it”. Don’t get me wrong, someone has to invent the automation, but once that’s done….POOF… There goes a task that at one time required a human to touch it. Within the next 3 to 5 years I can image automation will be commonplace in customers data centers and large enterprise networks. They will quietly hum along and finding a network technician will be just about as hard as finding help at your local Home Depot on a Saturday morning.

Beyond that I see an even greater threat to your console cable wielding network engineer. A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
I look at the network automation practice as having five levels. As the levels get higher, we are bound to see AI getting inserted into the process.

You can clearly see that when we get to level five, we will all be seeking employment selling shoes or possibly in the construction business. If you include nanotechnology, robotics, and quantum computing into the mix we just might have to become robot physiologists (if they can think for themselves, they will have emotional hang ups just like us)!

Lately, I have been reading a lot about the future as seen through the eyes of Martin Ford. I am surprised to find he has a new read on just this subject called Architects of Intelligence….downloading now…Martin talks at great length how the influx of automation, robots (Yes, I have seen robots flipping burgers) and AI are going to shape our world. Jobs will be greatly impacted. Doctors, Lawyers, Scientists, Laborer’s. I don’t think there will be any job function not impacted by forthcoming teknology.

Is there any good news? Maybe, as far as the levels go, we are still fairly close to the bottom, still slogging through spanning-tree issues and route flapping. Most major enterprise networks have a Hodge-Podge of network management solutions and very little automation to speak of. So, for the moment we are relatively safe. This is no time to rest on your laurels!

There is an old hockey adage “Skate where the puck will be, not where it’s at” So it amazes me that today people are still trying to get the next vendor certification. CCIE, CISSP, VCP. I can tell you, with some confidence, by level 5 all that information will be inside the AI. I hope it won’t take too long to get that cert, it just may become obsolete by the time you do.

In closing, I would like to emphasize the need to re-invent yourself. There are a few vendors already bringing affordable AI solutions to the market. I know, AI has been around for a while but we are about to see an explosion in its use. As AI moves from being Reactive Machines all the way to Self-Awareness it will no doubt start replacing humans in many sectors. I for one will most likely be retired by then, living on my good looks and charm, no doubt (starving) but it’s you, dear reader, I am worried about.

Do yourself a favor and don’t quit your day job but make sure to stretch yourself. Learn all you can on these advanced subjects, don’t be the one who gets surprised by the events about to unfold and for heavens sake buy a warm coat……winter is coming!

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