Programmers with network engineering skills

Owen DeLong owen at
Tue Feb 28 18:45:07 UTC 2012

While what you say is true (heck, I'm one of them), my point is that a great many
network engineers have relatively strong programming backgrounds and if you
could convince one of them to go back to writing code (sufficiently interesting
project and/or right $$) you'd probably have better luck than finding a programmer
that has networking skills.


On Feb 28, 2012, at 5:18 AM, Brandt, Ralph wrote:

> Owen, I can only say it is my opinion, based on some years of experience
> and working with people who have come from both sides.  I have seen more
> people successfully move from programming to networking than the
> reverse.
> Ralph Brandt
> Communications Engineer
> HP Enterprise Services
> Telephone +1 717.506.0802
> FAX +1 717.506.4358
> Email Ralph.Brandt at
> 5095 Ritter Rd
> Mechanicsburg PA 17055
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Owen DeLong [mailto:owen at] 
> Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 5:14 PM
> To: david raistrick
> Cc: Brandt, Ralph; NANOG
> Subject: Re: Programmers with network engineering skills
> On Feb 27, 2012, at 12:31 PM, david raistrick wrote:
>> On Mon, 27 Feb 2012, Owen DeLong wrote:
>>> I think you're more likely to find a network engineer with (possibly
> limited)
>>> programming skills.
>> While I'll agree about the more likely, if I needed a coder who had a
> firm grasp of networking I'd rather teach a good coder networking, than
> try to teach the art and magic of good development to a network guy.
> Well, I won't call myself a hard-core coder, but, I think I have a
> reasonable grasp on the art and magic of good development. What I mostly
> lack is speed and efficiency in the language of choice for whatever
> project. I can write good code, it just takes me longer than it would
> take a hard-core coder.
> OTOH, having done both, I would say that I think you are not necessarily
> correct about which direction of teaching is harder. Yes, if you start
> with a network engineer that knows nothing about writing code or doesn't
> understand the principles of good coding, you're probably right.
> However, starting with a network engineer that can write decent code
> slowly, I think you will get a better result in most cases than if you
> try to teach network engineering to a hard-core coder that has only a
> minimal understanding of networking.
>> I think it really comes down to which you need: a hardcore network
> engineer/architect who can hack up code, or a hardcore developer who has
> or can obtain enough of a grasp of networking fundementals and specifics
> to build you the software you need him to develop.
> I'm guessing that someone who needed a hard-core developer that could
> grasp fundamentals would have grabbed an existing coder and handed him a
> copy of Comer.
> The fact that this person posted to NANOG instead implies to me that he
> needs someone that has a better grasp than just the fundamentals.
> Of course I am speculating about that and I could be wrong.
>> The ones who already know both ends extremely well are going to be
> -very- hard to find, but finding one who can learn enough of the other
> to accomplish what you need shouldn't be hard at all.
> Depends on what you need. However, I think it's faster to go from
> limited coding skills with a good basis in the fundamentals to usable
> development than to go from limited networking skills to a firm grasp on
> how networks behave in the real world. To the best of my knowledge,
> nothing but experience will teach you the latter. Even with 20+ years
> experience networks do still occasionally manage to surprise me.
>> ...d (who is not exactly the former though I've played one for TV, and
> not at all the later)
> I am admittedly lost given the three choices as to which constitutes
> former or latter at this point.
> 1.	Strong coder with limited networking
> 2.	Strong networker with limited coding
> 3.	Strong in both
> Owen
> Who is a strong network engineer
> Who has been a professional software engineer (though many years ago and
> my skills are rusty
> 	and out of date)

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