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Capital Network Solutions’ Director of Networks and Cyber Security, Mark Edwards, is on track to hold his coveted Cisco CCIE certification for an impressive 20-year period.

Introduced in 1993, the Cisco CCIE certification distinguishes the top echelon of internetworking experts worldwide. Holders of the prestigious certificate represent less than 3% of all certified Cisco professionals and less than 1% of the networking professionals worldwide.

Mark Edwards

First accredited in 2001, Mark looks back at how the industry has changed during that time.  

Looking back

There are currently in excess of 4.1 billion Internet users in the world. In 2001 that figure was just 2 million. Now, over half of the world’s population has access to the internet, but with little IT training, it has opened-up a world without network boundaries and requires increasingly enhanced security measures.

With an army of internet enabled devices, users can now access the web on their phones, iPads and smart watches. Even washing machines and ovens are now connected. The ever-increasing slew of devices is offering up new points of entry for cybercriminals, harnessing the power of these IoT devices.

In addition, people expect to be available online at all times, often connecting to the WiFi as soon as they enter a room.  From working behind their laptops in cafes to streaming music and shows on their daily commute, society has adjusted to constant availability with high bandwidth requirements.

Not only are we constantly available online, we have started to use the internet as a space to store our personal data and intellectual property in a well-established Cloud. The priority is no longer installing, maintaining and replacing IT systems and applications, instead people are increasingly maintaining their own cloud storage.

Although beneficial, these developments have all resulted in a loss of clear organisational network perimeters. With an increase in the diversity of security threats, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses and individuals to secure their data. With 230,000 new malware samples produced every day and 90% of hackers covering their tracks by using encryption, it is taking most companies over six months to detect a data breach. With encryption long being thought of a beneficial add-on, we’re now entering an era of encryption by default.

Looking ahead

According to Cisco data levels will balloon globally by 2022 to an annual rate close to a zettabyte, while network capabilities will triple from 8.7 Mbps in 2017 to 28.5 Mbps by 2022, driven in part by 5G.

The country’s biggest mobile network, EE, has announced that it will be launching a 5G network in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester in the summer, with a further ten cities getting 5G by the end of 2019

Another development, The Internet of Things (IoT), once a niche technology for start-ups, is now a technology on which companies are building their futures. IoT has already changed the way we live. From reshaping how we drive to transforming industries, IoT is set to sky rocket in the coming years, becoming more and more mainstream.

Another change on the horizon is Software-defined networking (SDN), which looks to make networks more flexible and agile. It provides choice in automation and programmability across data centres, campuses, and wide-area networks. This change will really alter the networking landscape and require networking professionals to evolve as the system develops.

As far as the general public go, no longer will people have to rely on their memories to access their many online accounts with a simple password. Two-factor authentication will become the norm, with an increase in recognition technologies helping to secure our personal data.

However, the biggest change to come is perhaps still unknown. With technology and networking evolving at such a rapid rate, it is likely that the issues and solutions we’ll be dealing with in the coming years haven’t even been identified yet.

Throughout my career I’ve consistently adapted to the constant change in the networking landscape. I think my CCIE certification is a reflection of that. I look forward to seeing what the next few years have in store.

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certification in the industry. Network Engineers holding an active Cisco CCIE certification are recognized for their expert network engineering skills and mastery of Cisco products and solutions.

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