A network architect working for a system integrator sent me a number of questions along the lines of “what would be an interesting alternative to pursuing another CCxE certification?”
Lately I've been playing a bit with Python just to get started a bit with network automation but as an Architect and considering I'm more likely to move more towards the business side of things I won't be the one doing these things on a day to day basis. But I still enjoy playing around with Python and I like the programmatic way of thinking and being able to interact with devs and understanding a bit of their world.
Playing with Python is a nice hobby, but it’s probably not something someone who’s already a network architect should be aiming for as a full-time job. Compare how much a junior programmer (which is what we’d be) is getting compared to what a network architect makes. Also, I’ve been told it’s a bit easier to master programming than networking (please feel free to disagree in the comments).
However, as an architect you should know what’s possible to do, and have an order-of-magnitude estimate of how hard it is to get the job done, so getting some exposure to Python and other network automation tools is not a bad thing from that perspective.
Finally, do keep in mind that Python is just a low-level tool. If you’re trying to build a cabinet, Python is your multi-purpose router (the other router). Not great for any one job you need to do, but good enough to get most of the jobs done. However, you still have to understand how to make the parts, how they fit together, how to do the joints… you need to understand the architecture of an automation/orchestration system, particularly if you want to build one instead of buying one.
I'm thinking that what I should do is perhaps to broaden my skill set a bit. Perhaps pick up one of the AWS certs. Learn a bit more about Linux. Learn a bit more on virtualization, storage etc.
A few years ago, I’d say it depends on who your customers are, but today everyone needs to either build a data center and a private or public cloud on top of it, or move into the cloud, so learning a lot about virtualization and networking in the cloud can’t possibly hurt.
I would also strongly recommend to get more fluent with application architectures… the good ones, not the enterprise crap. It’s always so much fun when you tell the apps people sitting in the room how they could redesign their stuff so we could have a cheaper and easier-to-maintain network… and watch a few of them go like “yeah, that’s a cool idea, we could do that…”