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DevNet at the Networking Academy EMEAR Partner Summit 2017

Cisco Employee

The Cisco Networking Academy organized the EMEAR Partner Summit in November in Athens, Greece. A small number of DevNet team members were invited to take part in this event and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. The event brings together NetAcad instructors from the EMEAR region and Cisco leads this once a year in a forum. The setting provides an opportunity to discuss and showcase the progress made during the year and to make plans for the following year. This year’s 3-day event was well attended by 202 Networking Academy Partners from across 41 countries. Along with our partners, we had 42 Cisco leaders and regional managers join, as well as 7 government officials from Ministries of Education in 4 countries.


This year was a special one as we also celebrated 20 years of Cisco Networking Academy. One of the nights, we all got together for a dinner in a quaint restaurant by the Athens waterfront. Trophies were handed out to the Networking Academies that made the most impact over the years. It was great discussing NetAcad’s success over dinner and celebrating 20 years of Networking Academy with familiar faces.


DevNet and NetAcad partnership


The DevNet and NetAcad partnership started a bit more than a year ago with the official launching of the Networking Academy Community of Interest on the DevNet platform. This partnership is mainly driven by the changes we see in the industry and the need to train engineers for the jobs and opportunities of today and tomorrow.



Within Cisco, and especially in DevNet, we see the transition of the industry, and of Cisco itself, in the direction of being software driven. Hardware will still be the foundation, but software will take a much more central role. You will notice the new products coming out of Cisco, see that all of them expose programmable APIs, SDKs, and provide pertinent sample code to know that Cisco is serious with the transition to a more software centric company. Long gone are the days of closed and monolithic software.


Seeing this as another market transition, as our former CEO John Chambers liked to call these moments in time, we have acknowledged its importance and started working on training the workforce of the future around this vision. Moreover, of course when you say Cisco and training the first thing that comes to mind is NetAcad. With over 6 million students in a span of 20 years, NetAcad has fundamentally changed the training ecosystem and created jobs and opportunities for millions of people around the world, myself included.


Emerging Technologies Workshops


Emerging Technologies Workshops are hands-on experiences that expose attendees to the latest Internet technologies. In each Workshop, attendees learn new concepts, see how they work on real-world equipment, and quickly develop new skills for today’s job market. Networker skillsets are evolving to meet the opportunity and demands of programmable networks while at the same time developers with networking knowledge expand their horizons into an entirely new domain. Inspired by past events that the NetAcad and DevNet teams have run together, we had the idea to organize a hands-on workshop around network programmability and APIC-EM at this conference. The educational material we had to cover in this workshop was centered around the basic competencies needed to operate and automate management tasks on a controller-based network. The instructors learned and practiced Python programming skills and tools, interacting with REST APIs and used a live instance of APIC-EM running in the DevNet sandbox to solidify the new skills.



As the breadth of the content was extensive, we decided to split the workshop activities into three parts. A pre-event preparation phase in which the instructors had to complete online training with introductory topics from the workshop, an on-site at the event phase in which we made sure to answer any questions around the first phase of the training and also introduce the instructors to SDN and APIC-EM. The last phase of the training was scheduled to take part online after the event and would culminate in an exam and the opportunity to provide feedback. The reasons around having this workshop were two fold. First, we wanted to introduce the instructors to emerging technologies from Cisco and make sure they understand the DevNet and NetAcad proposition around it and second we wanted to get feedback and build on that to come up with a final version of the workshop. Following the feedback and suggestions from the EMEAR instructors, the workshop would be launched globally to all the Networking Academies interested in running these types of events.




Throughout the last year, all the effort that has been put into building this community, all the training content and all the events that we have taken part in, the message has been constant. As it has been for the past 20 years and remains today, Cisco is invested in developing the skills needed for the NetAcad instructors and students of yesterday, today and tomorrow. The partnership between NetAcad and DevNet is still in its infancy but I think great progress has been made so far. Together we can make the transition to a more software-defined world, a world on the cusp of major breakthroughs in automation and digital transformation. The Network Programmability with Cisco APIC-EM workshop will be available to selected instructors and the team is working already on a second workshop around Experimenting with REST APIs using Cisco Spark.


I want to thank all the instructors and participants to this event for joining us in Athens. It gave us the opportunity to celebrate NetAcad, the great learning taking place in EMEAR and offer feedback on the next era of instruction. The lessons learned informed us on how we can continue building together the NetAcad of tomorrow. I am looking forward to the next 20 years of Cisco Networking Academy!

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