As a network engineer, so much of our daily job is filled with duties that are not necessarily related to networking. No more is our day filled with just routers and switches. We wear many hats and are asked to do many things. Often times these duties are not always in our daily routine. Other times no one else is available, so we do them because no one else can. We are architects, designers, managers, technicians, and analysts.
The diversity of our job is why many of us stay in this field. We get to “play” with lots of different toys and technologies. We may be asked to establish IPSec VPN tunnels from clients as well as branch offices. We may need to setup and secure wireless networking, or the next day we may pull cable or rack equipment. We administer DNS or DHCP. We track ip addresses and provide ip management. We setup and monitor the IDS or IPS systems. We manage and maintain the network management systems (MRTG, What’sUp Gold, CIsco Works, OpenView, etc.). We document and diagram our networks so others can understand the infrastructure. We perform upgrades and maintenance in the middle of the night, weekends or on holidays. And of course, last but not least, we are oncall 24/7 to ensure that if any trouble arises we are there to correct the issue.
Each day our job gets more demanding. Converged networks and technologies now means that Voice, Video and Data all ride along the same path. Integrity of the network is more paramount. Quality of Service now needs to be implemented and managed and you need to know that it’s functioning. Voice traffic must be prioritized so that its delivery is guaranteed. The entire office communications rests firmly on the backs of network engineers. If the company phones don’t work the company cannot do business.
Most times our job is a thankless job. Only when things go wrong does anyone pay attention. To have the network run well is just… well, it’s just expected. It’s frustrating for the users as well as the engineers. Technical limitations within networking sometimes doesn’t allow for “everything” to work as some folks would like. It’s just the way it is.
But we go on, doing the best we can. Each day we learn a little more, each day the technology gets a little better, a little faster, a little more resilient. As fixes for older technologies make our lives easier, newer technologies making newer promises continue to challenge us.
Its the challenge we live for and the satisfaction of seeing a new technology come to life. We see the fruits of our labor and know we make a difference. We are network engineers.