Goodbye infrastructure, welcome new infrastructure.

My last five years in the networking industry have been struggling to find a role and job that motivates me enough. After I left behind my long career in designing and engineering fascinating Broadcasting network infrastructure and services, I’ve been drifting. Looking for a technically interesting, challenging, and ambitious job around traditional network infrastructure like MPLS backbone, WAN or DC network has been complicated in this kind of small country like Finland.

I have been banging my head against the wall for years trying to tell that infrastructure is the thing that I want and know very well. But clearly, traditional networking has been waning for years. There have been a few gigs like Cisco ACI deployments, that are a small step towards more modern networking. But mostly networking reality has been doing bare basics and leaving it running. Slow and sticky corporate culture kills anything else. No advanced features, no optimization, no monitoring and management development, no automation, no measuring real business outcomes.

Somehow I have ignored the cloud until now. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it a lot but it never materialized into any real action. There just hasn’t been a need for cloud networking because networking has been a missing part of the cloud for years. Now it has changed and the change is enormous. Suddenly I realized that my infrastructure fixation and mindset needs to change. If I wanted to find an interesting job, I have to move up on layers. I have considered enterprise IT boring because I haven’t seen much ambition, technical advancement, and real business outcomes at the infrastructure level. Also, Finnish company culture has been too much retarded and introverted from IT perspective. But hey, then I realized that enterprise IT can be great again! That’s because of the radically changing network, security, and whole IT landscape.

We are now seeing the biggest change in networking since the invention of IP and packet networks. Cloud has changed everything and the pandemic accelerated movement even more. Until now, I have hated security because it was pushing ever complex point solutions to disrupt people’s tasks and generating more and more work for everyone without increasing security substantially. Now security changes too. Zero Trust architecture is still a bit vague concept, but ZTNA has already changed how we access applications and systems, and better how we experience security. Security is finally more part of everything, not just an add-on glued on top of the systems. SASE is moving security to the cloud, internet is the new WAN, and enterprises are thinking if they need an office network at all. OT environments are an interesting case because the cloud and AI are pushing their way to traditionally very closed but vulnerable production systems. OT is taking advantage of modern IT principles and security solutions, slowly but surely. Business drives cloud initiatives and infrastructure has to keep up.

Pure networking is changing too. Cloud is slowly dispersing to more local edge sites with many flavors and volumes. 5G and private networks are emerging in certain industries at least. Multi-cloud networking is a complex equation that needs proper management tools. SD-WAN and multi-cloud tools are here to reclaim their promises. We haven’t seen much yet, this is just the beginning. Datacenter networks evolve around applications and development. Kubernetes is a new control plane that forms networks dynamically by application needs. Networks are defined by YAML code that common cloud native CI/CD tools can spit. Velocity, agility, and flexibility come through automation that is not run or coded by a human. People will define principles from where the system derives policies and executes them. User experience defines success thus monitoring and observability need to evolve too. Expect more real-time and advanced telemetry and analytics sourced from any systems and fed into AI to make conclusions and reply with actionable tasks. AI will also augment everything and make the operational experience far better.

Suddenly the world is open to powerful possibilities of cloud-native services. I don’t want to be stuck on infrastructure that is now becoming a boring utility. I want to be part of that modern world of fascinating services that can produce enormous business value and user experience. I want to upgrade my operating infrastructure to a new cloud-native level and let others do the underlay bit pipes. This means I must let old thoughts, interests, and operating models go. I have to learn many new things I’ve been avoiding for years, but now is the time. Partly it’s hard to give up, but mostly it’s liberating and exciting to look forward to something fresh and exciting. My backbone is a strong understanding of networking fundamentals combined with a curious and ambitious mind. I think this new evolved infrastructure suits me well.

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