However, other areas such as a strong knowledge of security protocols is seen increasingly important too.
Grubb says: "Cyber security is a genuine threat, and with that you need to have robust firewalls and technology that can recognise when there is a threat, and protect the data and protect what is valuable to your business."
Colt's Menezes says that, while a network engineer is expected to have "extensive knowledge of network design, technology and vendor management," softer skills are also becoming key to building a career.
"Confidence and persuasion skills are also important. We're often required to present to key stakeholders in the business at Colt. Therefore, a certain level of oral and written communication skills is needed."
Menezes adds that network staff are becoming more of an "integral part of IT and business" and therefore "your traditional engineer needs to have good communication skills, and be able to interface with other parts of the business".
"That is a different challenge than seven or eight years ago," he says.
"You tend to get a lot of people who do first line/second line and then people move out into a more generalist business management route, and choose not to go down the more technical route.
"Or you have a lot of technicians who don't have the communication skills."
How to get a job as a network engineer: How is the role evolving?
The fast-changing technology supporting many data centres provides opportunities for those seeking to begin a career, but also requires keeping abreast of new skills.
"It's evolving all the time, but I think there will be a big shift over the next three to five years in particular; we're moving much more towards SDN/NFV," says Menezes.
"More than ever, network engineers and architects will need to demonstrate the ability to be nimble and innovative in this environment. SDN and NFV are changing the skill set required in a network engineering role - a 'computing' skill set will be key to making this transition a success.
"Additionally, the need to act as a consultant and provide a service to the customer is becoming even more central in everything we do - so the role itself will grow as customers' needs develop."
Knowledge of devops workflows are another plus, as the barriers between operations and development teams. The increasing automation of the data centre - or the concept of infrastructure as code - means that an understanding of tools such as Puppet and Chef will be valuable.
This will also mean breaking down the siloes between different aspects of the IT department, global IS manager at Columbia Sportswear, John Spiegel said at a recent event attended by ComputerworldUK.
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