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.