Working in networking for over 20 years, Opticore’s Omid Mordazavi has seen – and done – just about everything. But in technology’s ever-changing landscape, Omid’s work is never truly done. Especially now.
Starting off episode five of NetBox Heroes, Omid, who leads the Network Automation practice at Opticore IT working with dozens of major enterprises to evolve their networks, sheds light on his diverse career, explaining how he came into tech and how his passion for networking quickly evolved into a passion for educating others.
“My journey has kind of come full circle,” says Omid. “I started at a help desk, coding products as a network engineer, and now I’m in a leadership role with lots of exposure to different networks and stacks. Taking on a leadership role was an opportunity for me to step away and do something more central. At Opticore, we’re big investors in our people. We want to teach people the tech and teach them how to use it.”
Part of this desire stems from Opticore’s mission to foster a nurturing environment where people can help each other build a community. “It’s so important to surround yourself with people who will challenge you because that’s the only way you’re going to progress,” says Omid.
As a leader instead of in a direct network engineering role, Omid is helping evolve networks in a new and challenging way. “There are a lot more high value conversations being had. Things like ‘Where are our customers going?’ and ‘What sort of things are they looking at?’ Not getting to plug cables in or configure routers every day is a real challenge but I’m enjoying it and understanding the cultural challenges that come with it.”
Unlike most people in the networking community, Omid has a unique breadth of exposure, working in a variety of networks, technologies, and ecosystems. More importantly, he’s seen a commonality among these areas: automation. “In the last 10 years, we’ve seen a change away from traditional networking into software defined networking. Having managed networks is now a preference for a lot of customers,” he says.
Although automation in networking has been building since about 2015, according to Omid, it’s just now starting to really take off. “It’s only in the last two or three years that automation is really getting some investment and focus. And I think people are starting to see the real merits in that. It’s an interesting one because everyone’s on a different automation journey.”
Depending on where people are in their journey, Omid and Opticore can help them understand how to get started with automation and consolidating it. “As network engineers, we’re in a prime position to help. We understand infrastructure, cloud connectivity, and the development of networks within the cloud really well. Yet sometimes we can be seen as dinosaurs because we are traditional infrastructure guys, which I think is a massive discredit to the skills and expertise that people have built up,” says Omid.
The biggest thing is trying to break down informational barriers, something Omid has done with customers. “In a few of our customers, we’ve tried taking away the siloing of cloud teams and network infrastructure teams to bring everyone to the same table,” says Omid. “We try to foster this holistic view of your infrastructure and network. It’s as much of a cultural shift as it is a tech shift.”
Connecting a community
When asked what role NetBox plays in Opticore’s automation and network operations strategies, Omid says there are two. The first is that NetBox sits at the core of Opticore’s managed network services offerings. The company leverages NetBox to get an accurate understanding of the customer’s estate, assets, and inventory. That then seeds all of its other systems. “Everything is pulled from NetBox,” Omid says. “Everything comes from that source of truth. That’s where we see NetBox within our own usage.”
The other avenue is building automation as a service. “It gives people a platform that they can start to build automation around. That could either be directly on a plugin or it could be with their own system that starts to feed data in or pull data from NetBox,” says Omid.
For Omid, NetBox’s open source nature is an incredibly valuable asset to the networking community. “We’re all humans who love network engineering, so the ability to share that enjoyment with other people is at the heart of what we do,” he says. “Open source is one of the purest examples of that – people who are out there talking to each other and trying to share knowledge.”
With an emerging urgency around network automation, it’s certainly an exciting time for everyone in networking, especially for Omid. “I’ve never been a believer in siloed knowledge. What I do believe in is going out there and sharing ideas with people. By having these conversations, our passion is sparked – we are reinvigorated,” Omid explains. By asking questions and getting a better understanding from these conversations, people can start to build a better networking community, he says. “There’s no reason why the community can’t start working together. We need to collaborate outside our organization to really get the job done.”
To listen to the full NetBox Heroes episode, visit netboxlabs.com/netbox-heroes.