With the very first GPNOG (Gauteng Network Operators Group), committee members managed to secure the beautiful Balaliaka Hotel in Sandton as the venue, as a generally central location for most Network Engineers to get to.  The event was held from 6pm on the 9th May and was sponsored by Rocking Connect, and drinks where sponsored by Workonline Communications.

This was the very first GPNOG and had a reasonably good turnout.  The idea around the regional NOG’s is to give engineers the opportunity to network with colleagues and other network engineers that we often speak to or hear of, but never really get to meet with.  It also offers an ideal opportunity to discuss common network issues, see what other networks are doing, freshen up on skills, and discover new network applications.  Most of all, build a technical community that engineers can reach out to and discuss common problems / challenges specific to the region.

Edrich de Lange started off the evening with a short intro, with Donald Jolley from Mitsol talking of “How others see me” within the networking arena, with some of the key notes to take away from this chat is the importance of hosting a looking-glass, allowing your equipment to respond to ICMP, consider hosting a RIPE atlas probe or NLNOG ring probe (https://ring.nlnog.net) and most importantly, having valid up to date contact information, available on the web (like on peeringdb or your website etc).   

The next talk was given by Marco de Freitas from three6five on Next Generation Networks (NGN), which will help with the likes of increased bandwidth demands, consolidation onto multiservice core and continuous growth.  Touching on transport technologies such as segment routing )SR) and seamless MPLS, with benefits like cost reduction, performance, operational simplification and TE control.

The last talk of the evening was presented by Peter Peele from WOL around “Deriving value from infrastructure automation” and how WOL have managed to get to the level of automation that they are at, using Ansible, python, YAML playbooks, NAPALM and using SSH for a method of transport for both their Cisco and Arista equipment.  Key points here being “Single source of Truth” for inventory and where data feeds into other business systems, for example ticketing and support.  This branches out to many benefits of standardized config across the network, ease of expansion etc, however with automation has its own challenges, which Peter pointed out.  Initially everything is a problem, but it’s important to start somewhere like with common nodes and use a incremental approach.  Some tips and pointers Peter did mention, was to standardize on the tools and resources that engineers all use.  Something as simple as using the same text editor makes all the difference in saving time and working on issues. 

All in all, the first GPNOG was a huge success with a few drinks had afterwards, thanks to Workonline, with engineers all having a few light discussions, and the evening ending off at around 21:30.  Thanks to Rocking Connect and Workonline being the first sponsors of this event and we’d very much like to have network engineers from many more companies join, next time around.  A big appeal as to what engineers would like to have discussed in future at the GPNOGs, of which an Intro to Python and possibly a discussion on virtual route reflectors, was mentioned.

The 6th KZNNOG was by far the most looked forward to meeting for me for KZN. Well known speakers from all over the country coming to the sunny port of Durban to share their knowledge and have drinks with the locals. KNNOG6 was the first multi day event the ZANOG has had, starting on the 4th of April and ending on the following day. We had a whole host of sponsors for the event that covered everything from the lanyards around our necks to the food in our stomachs.

The first day we had a full house with visitors from other regions and countries. Live streaming the event was a great idea and allowed people to join online who could not make it to the venue.  The hottest topic of the morning must have been the panel discussion about network performance testing (Speedtest.net) The afternoon we got our hands really dirty with RPKI and how it really works. The social was a hit and good food was enjoyed by all. Day two was just as exciting, but with a smaller crowd. Network automation is a thing! Together with how you monitor your network and what it actually means for you. The final hours lasted longer than expected. Conversations kept going and connections were made.

The two day event was a great success and we had achieved our objectives. We had a good turnout and great speakers. KZNNOG6 will be remembered by all those who attended. Much excitement was left in everyone for the next events.  Speakers approached us to share their insights and skills.

The first WCNOG was finally held after about 6 months worth of planning. We were hosted at the Hyde hotel in Seapoint. As always we were very thankful to our sponsors, Rocking Connect and Netsale for Covering the costs of the event, as well as Rocking connect for dealing with all the event logistics.

Once everyone arrived (We quickly learnt why CPT is called slaapstad 🙂 ) Nishal Goburdhan started the evening off with a discussion on the recent DNS exploits that occurred affecting some large organisations and did a quick tutorial on DNSSEC. This drew the crowds interest as many people had admitted that they do not sign their domains at the moment. Some providers left the event committing to at the very least, sign their own internal domains.

This was followed by an interesting talks about open stack networking, and some uses and issues had with it and some of the providers providing hardware out in the field.

As always, the most important part of the event was the socialising and networking that happened after the talks were had. We look forward to seeing people at the next event in October!

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