This reddit post asked the question:
For example, I’m going through a Cisco Live presentation on troubleshooting ASR routers, and the first 50 slides or so are completely dedicated to describing the Route Processors, Packet Engines, ASICs, Buffers, etc., and the different paths that packets can take through the hardware.
While that’s all obviously important to the functionality of the router, how critical is it for the individual operating and maintaining the router to understand it all? I can see it being important if you’re trying to squeeze every last bit of performance out of a device, but outside of that case, when does one need to think about the underlying architecture of a network device?
If you choose to have a career at higher technical levels then some knowledge of hardware will improve your capability and learning. If you understand how a switching ASIC routes packets and the function of other hardware components you will have useful knowledge but maybe not valuable knowledge.
Not every top level architect/designer has these skills and may rely on a vendor. This leaves them open to exploitation by the sales process (caveat emptor). However two things:
- Any deep knowledge is hard to obtain and requires substantial effort to find and learn. The learning cost may not be worth the effort today
- As public cloud/abstraction/software is the focus the next generation of IT services, I would suggest that software is a better focus. Leave it to the old guys (like me) for now and learn software first. If on-premise hardware is part of your worklife, then consider investing some time to learn your stack.