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NANOG’s Edward McNair Delivers Keynote Address at CaribNOG 17

Gerard Best

Edward Mc Nair, executive director of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG), delivered the keynote at the seventeenth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), held from April 10 to 12 at the Hilton in Bridgetown, Barbados.

McNair's keynote 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 keynote was well received by CaribNOG 17 participants, which included technical experts from the global Internet community and other stakeholders from across the Caribbean, plus dozens of online participants, all gathered for this highly anticipated event in the regional Internet community's calendar, the first of two CaribNOG regional gatherings for the year.

"First and foremost, NOGs are about community, about people. The Caribbean region needs CaribNOG, a focused group of people who are on the ground, in the trenches, who understand the needs that exist there," McNair said in a post-event interview.

Since its establishment in 2010, CaribNOG has held public meetings twice yearly across the region, providing a forum for computer network operators to meet and interact with counterparts from around the world. From its inception, the group has worked to strengthen the region's networks by advancing members' technical capacity, deepening relevant human connections and expanding institutional collaboration.

"We hope to share with our Caribbean brothers. I think that NANOG can lend our expertise and experience...insofar as you're directing us and telling us what you need… At the end of all of this, we're trying to make sure that we build an open, stable, secure, robust, interconnected Internet system that serves everyone. This is all part of the mandate of NANOG," McNair said.

NANOG holds meetings and conducts outreach across its North America service area, which includes Canada, the United States and parts of the Caribbean.

The overall NANOG contribution at CaribNOG 17 was highly practical, on target, actionable and well received by the community. On the opening day, McNair and other representatives from Internet bodies including the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) had shared updates on recent, ongoing and upcoming activities in the global Internet governance ecosystem, and welcomed members of the CaribNOG community to engage and participate.

On day two, Steve Feldman, chair of the NANOG program committee and chair of the board of Packet Clearing House, described in detail how Packet Clearing House (PCH) came to be among the targets of a sophisticated attack against several governments and infrastructure providers in late 2018 and early 2019. He showed how PCH detected the attack, determined what had happened, and took steps to mitigate future occurrences.

Sean Kennedy, NANOG Board Chairman, gave an overview of the purpose and functionality of the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS), focusing on what practical steps Caribbean stakeholders can take to mitigate global routing threats, such as route hijacks, route table leaks, and denial of service incidents, which continue to impact Internet services around the world.

Edward Winstead discussed the increasingly common situation where a network or system administrator inherits a legacy domain name server (DNS) server and explains how to migrate the services on that server to modern DNS software implementations. This hands-on practical training fit right into the sleeves-up heads-down work ethic of the CaribNOG community, providing another solid meeting resource that CaribNOG can package for future consumption by other members of the community.

Steve Feldman presented in a highly anticipated panel discussion on how necessity, community, serendipity and market forces formed today's Internet. Other panelists were Albert Daniels, ICANN's Senior Manager for Stakeholder Engagement for the Caribbean, Mark Kosters, ARIN CTO, and Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Liaison at ARIN and one of the founders of CaribNOG. While Feldman and Kosters recounted colourful tales from the earliest days of the Internet in the United States, Wooding and Daniels did the same with unique accounts from the pioneering period in the Caribbean. The session brought to light interesting anecdotes, uncovering little-known aspects of the process of literally building the Internet in the nineties.

"CaribNOG has had many milestones in its evolution, and this meeting was certainly one of them. The contribution of NANOG was significant, we look forward to building on it," said CaribNOG Program Director Stephen Lee, who moderated the panel.

In February, delivering in a brief presentation at NANOG 75 in San Francisco, California, Lee had announced several highlights of the CaribNOG 2019 calendar and welcomed the NANOG community to engage and participate. CaribNOG's next regional meeting takes place in Antigua and Barbuda from September 25 to 27.

Apart from its upcoming events, the CaribNOG community will also focus on a range of capacity-building activities, including collaborative research projects, resource development, expanded communication channels and new outreach initiatives throughout the year.

Initial feedback from the CaribNOG 17 participants indicated an elevated appreciation for the sessions dealing with network security and network resiliency issues. More importantly, many expressed readiness to apply what was learned to strengthen the Internet in the region.

As a whole, the CaribNOG community will certainly be expecting to build on the momentum of CaribNOG 17 meeting and continue to develop a strong partnership with NANOG. And if the tangible presence, significant contribution and vocal statements of strong solidarity from NANOG are anything to go by, that expectation seems well founded.

By Gerard Best, Development Journalist
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