Network Automation



Managing large and complex networks efficiently without some form of Network Automation is difficult. There is an increasing need for organizations to hire people with Network Automation skills to help address such challenges.

Network Automation Engineer

This blog post will review the Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization training on Coursera. It will explore the following subjects;

  • What Does a Network Automation Engineer Do?
  • Benefits of Network Automation
  • What is Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization?
  • Who is It for?
  • The Skills You Will Learn
  • How long will it take to complete it?
  • The Cost of the Certification
  • Is Network Automation in Demand?
  • Network Automation Engineer Salary
  • Does it Count Toward a Cisco Recertification?
  • Is the Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization Worth it?
  • Some Frequently Asked Questions

What Does a Network Automation Engineer Do?

A Network Automation Engineer does all the functions of a typical Network Engineer but with something more – they use automation tools like Ansible, Salt, Pepper & Chef, and Python Programming to configure and manage network devices.

The traditional Network Engineer will configure, manage, and troubleshoot the Network using the Command Line Interface (CLI) of each device, The network Automation Engineer on the other hand uses Software (APIs) to manage a large number of devices all at once.

Benefits of Network Automation

The Network Automation Engineer ensures that the network is managed more efficiently, costing down on cost and resources. Some benefits of Network Automation are as follows;

  • Reduced Operation Cost
  • Fewer Network failures
  • Consistency in network configuration across the network.

What is Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization?

This Specialization is a primer training for beginners who want to pursue a career as a Network Engineer or other similar job roles. It was created by Cisco Learning and Certification. Cisco is the leading tech vendor for networking and automation.

The Specialization is fully online, self-taught, and is available through Coursera. You get a certificate of completion when you finish the specialization. There are 5 courses that make up the Specialization. These are highlighted below

Network Automation Engineer

Course 1: Introduction to Network Automation – Introduction to Network Automation, Examining Network. Management and Operation, Using Python for Network Automation

Course 2: Using APIs for Network Automation – Introduction to using APIs for Network Automation. Reviewing Data formats and Data Encoding, Introducing HTTP Network APIs, Using Python Requests to Automate HTTP-Based APIs

Course 3: Ansible for Network Automation – Introduction to Ansible for Network Automation, Ansible for Network Automation II, Templating Configuration with Jinja2.

Course 4: DevOps for Network Automation (NetDevOps) – Introduction to DevOps for Network Automation. Exploring Software Development Methodologies, Describing NetDevOps (DevOps for Networking, Managing Automation Development Environments

Course 5: Introducing Model-Driven Programmability – Introducing Model-Driven Programmability, Exploring YANG, Using YANG Tools, Automation model-driven API with Python

Who is It for?

Although this Specialization is at the beginner’s level, it does assume some foundational knowledge of Networking or some industry experience working as a Network Engineer.

The CCNA is a good foundation for this Specialization

The Skills You Will Learn

The Network Automation Engineering Fundamental Specialization will provide you with an overview of Network Automation and some fundamental skills such as the following;

  • The Basics of NETCONF, RESTCONF, gNML, and YANG modeling – RESTFUL APIs
  • Scripting with Ansible and Python and Network Security
  • Understanding the issues network automation can solve, building a foundation for further mastery of Automation
  • Understand the process of building a CI/CD pipeline for network configuration

How long will it take to complete the Specialization?

The Specialization courses are pretty short, despite comprising 5 courses. The total course duration for all 5 courses is 14 hours. It is easy to complete the specialization in less than a month.

Cost of the Network Automation Engineering Specialization

The course is available through a Coursera subscription for $39 per month($49 for US/Canada, UK £47). You can Audit all the Specialization courses for free. However, when you do so, you will not be eligible for a Certificate upon completing the training.

There is also a free 7-day trial period – you could complete the entire specialization within this time frame.

Is Network Automation in Demand?

There is an increasing demand for Network Automation Engineers especially from large organizations. Businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs and run networks more efficiently. Network Engineers with Automation skills do have some favorable advantages in such environments.

Market Projection for Network Automation

According to Grandview Report, the Automation market has seen some massive growth in recent years and it is expected to by 22.9 percent between 2022 and 2030. This is certainly a positive indicator of demand for Network Automation Engineers even for the future projection.

Network Automation Engineer Salary

Network Automation Engineers are also Network Engineers (with some specialized skills). The salaries for a Network Automation Engineer range from $104K to 161K per year with an average of about $129k per year (Glassdoor).

The Salaries of Network Automation Engineers are slightly higher than those of regular Network Engineers ($98K – $153K/yr), showing that Organizations prefer Network Engineers with Automation Skills.

Does the Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization Count Towards Cisco’s Recertifications?

No, This specialization on Coursera does not include you taking a Standard Professional Cisco exam, therefore it does not recertify you for any prior Cisco certifications. No Continuing Education (CE) is awarded for this specialization.

Is the Network Automation Engineering Fundamentals Specialization Worth

There are some upsides to taking this Specialization training from Cisco – first, it is cheap (you can even access the materials for free), the duration is short and you get to learn some foundational knowledge of Network Automation. It serves as a primer for further studies.

However, it is not the most stellar or renowned of Cisco’s Courses for Network Automation. The concepts taught are introductory and very limited practical use. Most Employers will prefer the actual CCNP Specialization to land you a Network Automation Engineering role.

Link to register for the course: (Not an Affiliate link)

Frequently Asked Questions on Network Automation

Frequently asked questions on Network Engineering and Network Automation

The following are some of the frequently asked questions on Network Engineering and Network Automation Engineering;

What is meant by network automation?

When you automate a network, you are using Software and development tools to issue commands to devices (physical or virtual) in the network – such Software/tools commands can range from configuration, deploying, operating, testing, and managing.

Automation is usually for large networks where it may be difficult to issue those commands manually in the CLI of each device.

Automation = Use Software , Manual = Use CLI

What skills are needed for Network Automation Engineer?

A Network will need an array of skills, these are classed as follows;

  1. Networking Skills – Knowledge of Networking devices, software and protocols
  2. Programming Language – Python especially, then others like Ruby and Go
  3. Automation Tools – Must know how to use tools like Ansible, Puppet&Chef, Salt, Terraform, etc
  4. Version Control Skills – Gith, Github, Githlab etc
  5. Linux administration skills – Bash Scripting, etc.
  6. REST and APIs

Network Automation Course

Cisco is an Industry leader when it comes to Network Automation. They offer some of the best courses on the subject. Examples of such are as follows;

  1. DevNet Associate certification
  2. Cisco Certified DevNet Professional

Also, there are various Automation specialization/CCNP courses from Cisco, depending on your area of concentration. There are as follows;

  • Automating Cisco Enterprise Solutions (300-435) ENAUTO for Enterprise Environment
  • Automating and Programming Cisco Data Center Solutions (300-635 DCAUTO) for Data Centre
  • Automating Cisco Security Solutions (300-735 SAUTO) for Security Core professionals
  • Automating and Programming Cisco Collaboration Solutions (300-835 CLAUTO) for Collaboration
  • Automating and Programming Cisco Security Solutions (300-735 SAUTO) for CyberOps
  • Implementing DevOps Solutions and Practices (300-910 DevOps) for DevOps

Does Cisco use Python?

Python is a required skill for Network Automation and is incorporated into Cisco Courses. However, many Cisco devices (Switches and Routers) do provide an on-box Python Interpreter that you can use to execute scripts and programs directly on end devices.

Will Network Engineers be replaced?

AI and Automation will disrupt the way we do things it doesn’t mean there won’t be demand for Network Engineers or that they will be replaced. On the contrary, businesses will need network engineers more, they will however need to do more as there will be more challenges.

Network Engineers will need to become better and learn Automation skills to meet increased demand.

How do I become a Network Automation Engineer?

If you are already a Network Administrator or Network Engineer, you just need to learn automation skills. Start by learning Python, Ansible, or other Automation tools.

Implement their use in your daily tasks. Instead of running some CLI commands, use Network Automation tools to achieve the same results. The Learning Curve is not so steep if you are already a Network Engineer.

If you are a Developer already, then you will need to learn Networking to become a Network Automation Engineer.

Why is Python used for Network Automation?

Python is one of the most popular programming languages for many reasons including its ease of use. It is also an excellent Scripting language. Most networking configurations are based on Scripting tasks, which makes Python ideal for Network automation.


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