Network Engineers vs. IT Specialists

Network engineer vs IT specialist

With all the technology that is currently impacting on networks and networking, making it easier to set up and manage, the question which comes to mind is if network engineers still needed in the corporate environment? For most of the people who are looking at the tasks, the answer is yes, they are still needed.

However, the roles have changed, and along with the roles are the job requirements. Nowadays, network engineers usually do more work in the office doing virtualization, SDN, cloud computing tasks, and others. They are doing less and less of the traditional jobs that network engineers were hired for. There are less planning and design from backbone, to network backplane, cable crimping, connectivity of routers and switches, and so on.

There may be more hardware to configure in the network and server room, but a lot more of the configuration can be done remotely. In fact, there are now tasks which are better done by setting switches on the cloud and ordering a service.

While it is true that the network engineer still exists for those tasks which require a specialist with a deep understanding of network fundamentals, it is also true that a lot of the trivial tasks can now be done by generalists. Or to put it in another way, the role of the network engineer now requires more programming, automation, and a wider understanding of the job at hand, Tech Target explains.

It is no longer just about getting bits and bytes from point A to point B by going through different platforms and network appliances. It is also about making sure that these tasks can be replicated easily via automating tasks.


Twenty years ago, you had to go through loops to connect machines together with cables. The network engineer had to choose which technology to use for the backplane, and for the type of cables to connect machines, as well as choosing which machines to monitor the performance. He also had to know how to crimp a cross-cable. Nowadays, most machines don’t even care if it’s a cross cable or a straight cable. Even fiber cables are getting to be connected to a terminator inside the home. Testing all these equipment is also done remotely without any need to check any boxes or cabinets.

Today’s network engineer has to know how to program to automate processes, as well as set up connectivity for virtual machines as well as software-as-a-service (Saas) boxes, also called cloud computing. The roles may expand but the underlying fundamental knowledge is still required.

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