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I was sad to see a Python question about network automation closed today, but programming questions are always swiftly dealt with. I think this should change to increase good traffic within the NE.SX community.

The current on-topic rules include the following (excerpts):

  • On-topic if your question is about tools used by network professionals;
  • Off-Topic if your question is about: installation, configuration, or use of applications not generally considered to be tools used by network professionals;

To me, this suggests network automation questions should already be welcome; but perhaps not the most detailed programming questions. With the current rules, a question about using ansible to admin a Cisco device ought be on-topic; but a question about writing a bespoke Python script to admin the same Cisco belongs elsewhere, e.g. on Stack Overflow.

I think this should change. Our profession, Network Engineering, is racing toward a future where automation tools will be an unavoidable part of many network engineers' day-to-day responsibilities. If you want a senior network engineering job today, you had better have at least some experience with ansible, puppet, SaltStack, or proprietary automation tools, or you might have a tough time finding a position!

By welcoming questions about network automation tools I think we'll draw more of the kind of traffic this community can thrive on.

By accepting some software development questions when they are specifically and narrowly focused on managing networks / network devices, I think we'll attract the same type of good-quality questions which in Super User or Server Fault might involve bash or Python scripting to achieve the ends sought by many users of their communities.

I would like to learn the process for proposing an addition to the on-topic rules:

  • On-topic if your question is about a vendor-supported or mainstream open source network automation tool (such as ansible), and the question is focused on managing professionally-supported network devices

  • On-topic if your question is about programming and narrowly focused on managing professionally-supported network devices (e.g. a Python script to access a router API and update an interface configuration)

I further suggest that when programming questions arrive which are not so narrowly focused, we should attempt to move those to Stack Overflow instead of let them die on our vine and frustrate users.

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    Hello Jeff... I think you're correct to say "Our profession, Network Engineering, is racing toward a future where automation tools will be an unavoidable part of many network engineers' day-to-day responsibilities". Another "race" - companies are moving their physical datacenters to AWS, Google-cloud and Azure. To deal with those dynamics, it helps to know terraform Sep 20 at 5:16
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    Sounds reasonable to me. I'd be in favor of opening up networking automation type questions to this community. I like the definitions you suggested.
    – Eddie
    Oct 2 at 18:54
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    I would agree on this too.
    – user56700
    Nov 24 at 21:23

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