Network admins are increasingly sharing responsibilities with app developers

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Developers will have more to do with the network architecture as enterprise networks increasingly become software-defined, according to Nathan Pearce, senior technical marketing manager for software-defined networking at F5 Networks.

The DevOps trend is having an impact on various elements of IT, including the network infrastructure. In an interview with FierceEnterpriseCommunications, Pearce noted that as the interest in SDN and network programmability grows, much of it is moving into the DevOps space. Take the Netflix OSS tool as a good example. It's a very reactive, dynamic environment, he said, and he said it's interesting to see where the demarcation is now.

"See, we always talk about demarcation like the DMZ. Where do you put your DNS? Where do you put your data? Those kind of things. But I think it also now has a stack demarcation," he said.

At the bottom, there's the plumbing, infrastructure and connectivity, he explained. That's where SDN typically stays, but above that, there's "a huge amount of volatility." Consider the shift toward containers and microservices, as well as continuous integration and continuous delivery, and the decision-making about the network and what it should do is changing.

"That line is really blurry these days. It used to be quite solid between infrastructure and developer," he said. Not so these days.

Pearce posed the question: Who is controlling programmability? And it's not necessarily the same people it used to be. Of course, network engineers and network administrators still play a very strong role in defining and managing the network, but increasingly networking experts are sharing their spaces with developers.

It's a trend that will continue to grow as SDN becomes more prevalent in the enterprise.

With developers often far outnumbering IT professionals in a large enterprise, Pearce noted that IT simply doesn't have the resources to match the demand of the application-centric world.

"In some organization, IT is like an AWS. The developer needs X, Y, Z. I must provide X, Y, Z to them or they won't use me and I become irrelevant," Pearce said.

Developers are becoming more involved in network infrastructure, and it's a trend that's growing, he said.

That's not to suggest developers are taking over, but as Pearce said, the lines between developers and network operations staff are blurring.

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