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Caribbean Network Operators Group Hosts 17th Regional Meeting

Gerard Best

The seventeenth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, CaribNOG 17, took place at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Bridgetown, Barbados from April 10 to 12, 2019, with the theme "Securing Caribbean Networks."

Approximately 100 participants, including technical experts from the global Internet community and other stakeholders from across the Caribbean, joined dozens of online participants for this first of two regional gatherings for the year.

Stephen Lee, CaribNOG Program Director, opened the meeting with a warm Caribbean-style welcome. Claire Craig outlined the three-day agenda and recognised the tangible support of meeting sponsors and institutional partners including the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Society, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), Packet Clearing House (PCH), ArkiTechs, Solace and R.L.Mark & Company Ltd.

CaribNOG 17 immediately followed ARIN's forty-third public policy and members meeting, ARIN 43, held at the same venue from April 7 to 10. A longtime supporter of CaribNOG, ARIN provided a fellowship program to support persons interested in participating in the ARIN and CaribNOG meetings. The ARIN Fellowship Program offered the opportunity to attend the meetings at no charge, as well as hotel accommodation, round-trip economy class airfare and a stipend.

CaribNOG 17 was one of three events comprising the second ARIN Caribbean Forum. An invitation-only Law Enforcement Group, staged in collaboration with APEX, the Caribbean agency responsible for justice technology, focused on cybersecurity was held on April 10 from 12 to 4 p.m. for security, policing and public safety officials. An open Public Policy Group meeting, hosted in collaboration with the CTU, for public sector and civil society representatives, took place on Thursday 11 April from 9 to 4 p.m.

Presentations over the three days of CaribNOG 17 offered attendees a comprehensive view of the technologies, best practices, and tools required to build a robust Internet infrastructure. On the opening day, representatives of ARIN, ICANN, LACNIC and the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) were on hand to share updates on their recent, ongoing and upcoming activities, and to welcome members of the CaribNOG community to engage and participate. ARIN representatives Frankie Mc Donough and David Jeffers shared insights into the nuts and bolts of standing up and safeguarding the ARIN 43/CaribNOG 17 meeting network. Steve Feldman (PCH) shared an insider perspective on PCH's response to a recent DNS attack.

Delivering the keynote at the start of the second day, Edward Mc Nair, executive director of NANOG, focused on the important role that network operator groups, or NOGs, play in building an Internet that serves the specific needs of the people in the region. He cited the example of NANOG, which has been able to play a major role in developing the network infrastructure, commercial activity, and human relationships that drive development in North American networks. The presentation gave some insight into the general philosophy and typical functionality of NOGs, through the lens of McNair's personal and professional experiences at NANOG.

The overall NANOG contribution was very practical, on target, tremendously useful, and well received by the community. Steve Feldman, NANOG Chair, had on Day One shared an insider perspective on PCH's response to a recent DNS attack. Sean Kennedy's solid debrief on MANRS tackled an area that improves CaribNOG engineering practice. Edward Winstead's hands-on practical training was exactly the kind of resource that CaribNOG intends to package for future consumption by other members of CaribNOG. As a whole, the CaribNOG community looks forward to building on this meeting and developing a strong partnership with NANOG.

The Day Two agenda focused on a range of security and resilience issues: David Huberman (ICANN) and other expert presenters presented best practices for domain name system security, or DNSSEC, from a number of angles. After lunch, Steve Feldman returned alongside Bevil Wooding (CaribNOG, ARIN), Mark Kosters (ARIN) and Albert Daniels (ICANN) for a highly anticipated panel discussion on how necessity, community, serendipity and market forces formed today's Internet. Panelists recounted colourful tales from the trenches of the earliest days of the Internet in the United States and the Caribbean. The session brought to light interesting anecdotes that revealed aspects of the process of literally building the Internet in the nineties.

On the final day, sessions by Jon Worley (ARIN), Matthew Wilder (Telus), Brent McIntosh (Columbus Communications) and Owen DeLong focused on the migration to next-generation Internet protocol, called IPv6 — what it is, why it's important, how to obtain IP number resources, and a snapshot of actual adoption across the Caribbean.

A number of technical experts, including Mark Jeftovic (Easy DNS), Steve Spence (ArkiTechs) and Irwin Williams (Teleios Systems), rounded out the three-day agenda, packed with technical presentations, expert panels, rich feedback and many questions from the engaged community.

In the final session, Bevil Wooding, ARIN Caribbean Outreach Liaison and one of the founders of CaribNOG, announced the date and venue of the second CaribNOG regional meeting for 2019. Antigua and Barbuda will host the eighteenth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, called CaribNOG 18, from September 25 to 27. Wooding also announced several highlights of the 2019 calendar of events and activities, including upcoming meetings, collaborative research projects, expanded outreach initiatives and new communications channels.

Stephen Lee formally closed the meeting by thanking all for attending and inviting participants' feedback on the meeting. Those online were encouraged to use hashtag #CaribNOG17 to keep the conversation going on Twitter, while those on site were reminded to make the most of the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of the venue.

Lee also recognised the efforts of the CaribNOG 17 meeting coordination team, which included Deborah Thurton, Kimberly Baliram, Andre Edwards and Justin Gittens. The Barbados chapter of the Internet Society provided local coordination services, including a remote hub in a computer lab at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill with a video link, so that students could follow and participate without having to leave the Cave Hill campus.

Meeting resources, including the full agenda and recap, presenter bios and downloadable presentations, are available on the CaribNOG website, caribnog.org.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist
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