At NANOG 74, NetActuate staff were two of 940 attendees who gathered in Vancouver, Canada, to learn advanced networking techniques, share ideas with colleagues, solve problems, and discover new network applications. NetActuate’s new Director of Global Networking, Kate Gerry, participated, along with Senior DevOps Engineer Josh McBeth.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to attend and connect with both current customers and networking colleagues” said Gerry.

The Sunday before the meeting, McBeth also participated in NANOG’s Hackathon, a competition to introduce engineers to new ways to troubleshoot and implement networking technology, both old and new, with automation.

The hackathon posed a traffic engineering challenge similar to one that might be encountered on a production network. In this scenario, the topology and flow volume data are sampled from an MPLS network, and used to optimize pathing for quality of service and network utilization in real-time. A total of nine teams consisting of developers and network engineers from a wide variety of backgrounds were in friendly competition to develop solutions for the problem.

“It is always a challenge to deliver a solution to a complex problem in a short amount of time,” said McBeth. “I contributed an algorithm to our team’s effort that calculated the optimal multipath traffic distribution. We were the only team to attempt both the single path and multipath solutions, and it was interesting to see the extent to which our multipath solution improved quality of service and network utilization. This exercise yielded valuable datapoints for consideration in relation to our existing MPLS offerings, SDN products, and traffic engineering requirements.”

Every October meeting, NANOG holds an election among its members to approve policy changes and board seats. Two new board members, Susan Forney from Hurricane Electric, and David Siegel from Limelight Networks, were added.

During the conference there was a big focus on BGP security, which is critical to keeping network traffic ending up where it is intended to go. Vulnerabilities in BGP can allow for “man in the middle” attacks, where a bad actor can advertise themselves with the same IP address as a real business, and redirect the user requests to a fake website, often created to steal user information and data.

Several follow-up discussions included the pros and cons of ways of newer ways to improve BGP security, including RPKI (resource key public infrastructure) and BGPsec. Ways to address and overcome challenges to the adoption of these technologies were also presented.

“It was great to learn about these issues, especially to keep up to date on the best way to keep our own networks as secure as possible for our customers,” said Gerry.

Overall, NetActuate staff had a great experience both learning and connecting with current customers, and plan to return for NANOG75. Below, Gerry (back left), and McBeth (front left), enjoy a meal with networking colleagues and customers.