The Dutch Network Operators Group had its annual conference on 8 September 2017 in Amsterdam. I was there to collect feedback about RIPE NCC services, talk about increasing diversity, organising hackathons and cross-connecting between communities.
I've enjoyed the annual “NLNOG Day” for the past three years. Network operator groups (NOGs) are important for enabling inter-connections between ISPs by fostering cooperation between engineers who work for these organisations. Participants also benefit from experience sharing and learning from guest presenters in related fields (law, security, software development, etc.).
I've seen the progress within the community: more participants, more international speakers and better goodies (a canvas goodie bag and a beautiful blue t-shirt!)
NLNOG goodie bags
Some of the great things have stayed the same, I already wrote about the last year’s event: superb logistical organisation, impressive speakers, interesting topics, "the quiz", the volunteers in “orga”, and many sponsors that make it possible to have “free” tickets available.
NLNOG keeps improving year after year and this time around and I experienced the event with my own goals in my mind: increasing diversity, organising hackathons and cross-connecting between various communities.
Diversity (the lack thereof)
Many technical communities are doing more to improve diversity and inclusion. NLNOG has just introduced the Code of Conduct, summarised by Job Snijders during the opening speech. (video). NLNOG also appointed two "trusted persons" for during and after the event. These are people that are instructed on how to deal with undesired behaviour and report back to the organisation.
In my opinion, gender diversity is lacking at NLNOG: out of ten presenters there were ZERO female presenters, and out of ~150 participants, there were about 10-15 women. I had a talk and a brainstorm with some attendees on what can we do to make the next event more interesting (or more safe) for our female colleagues. There were a lot of ideas: reach out to university students, invite female speakers in order to provide role models, provide contact for babysitters during evening activities, open fellowship for women on parental leave, etc,. But what's key to remember is that actions take time and effort and energy, and it again places the burden on the minority to try to improve the situation.
The typical NLnog participants
NLNOG can learn from the activities within RIPE community: there is a “Diversity Task Force” that has an active mailing list: please join us! We have published a list of ideas and actions that can be inspirational. Improving the situation in one community has the effect on other overlapping communities too!
I was happy to see one of our hackathons projects being presented on the big stage!
- Stefan Plug from ECIX was talking about "Alice BGP Looking Glass" (slides) , which started as a project during IXP Tools Hackathon just before RIPE73, at that time called Bird's Eye. He was very happy with the stroopwafels his colleague (and their team) won as a prize
Blast from the past: winners of the stroopwafels for Bird's Eye / Alice Looking Glass at IXP Tools Hackathon
We will have stroopwafels as prizes also for our next IPv6-themed event, on 4-5 November in Copenhagen - “Hackathon Version 6” (part of “Danish IPv6 Week”). Therefore the presentation about IPv6-controlled lights on the Christmas tree was very interesting: a fun project that could be an example for the hackathon participants!
I did not get time to announce our hackathon, so let me use this opportunity to invite you to apply here if you are interested in joining us in Copenhagen.
Next year, we are planning to two more RIPE NCC-organised hackathons and we'll help a few other organisations that want to organise one too. We are already in discussion with iNOG about the potential for an event and the APRICOT and QuTech cooperations are coming up. There are important topics such as “the health of the Internet” or “sustainable technologies” that are of interest to the RIPE community too.
It was good to see such an international crowd at a Dutch event, this fitted nicely with the new activity on RIPE Labs: coordinating NOG organisers worldwide. We have published a list of NOGs, the calendar with the dates of their conferences, and a map. The RIPE NCC is maintaining a mailing list of the organisers so they can exchange experiences and learn from each other on how to make even better events and even more successful communities. It was good to meet people that I saw at DENOG, SWINOG and UKNOF and I am looking forward to meet new contacts at Irish NOG and SANOG next year!
If you would like to write about the experiences from your NOG, we would be happy to publish it on our NOG pages on RIPE Labs:
Most useful presentations
Part of my job as community builder is to collect feedback from our members and the community and there were two presentations of particular interest to me: handling abuse and data protection laws.
- Jurrian van Iersel talked about his experiences reporting network-related abuse to ISPs. He had several suggestions for RIRs: to standardise formats of their "whois" databases where contact details are stored and to start periodic validation of the existing contact details.
- Presentation about SHA2017 was heart warming. It brought back fond memories of the summer the strong connection between the hackers community and RIPE/NLNOG communities.
- Rejo Zenger from "Bits of Freedom" had, as always, a very entertaining talk about a very somber topic: "Did you know EU lawmakers want to make you responsible for your customers' data?" (the video is linked from the title) This is relevant for the Cooperation Working Group and also for the RIPE NCC from a data retention perspective. I also love his conclusion to question everything!
RIPE NCC and NLNOG
This year, there were ten more colleagues from the RIPE NCC at NLNOG Day, and they covered other topics and collected more feedback: about RIPE Atlas ambassadors, distributing probes, doing research on measurements data, DNS, DevOps and other operational practices, and address policy. Together, we make sure that the RIPE NCC is part of the Dutch Network Operators community, and in return, improve our services to the members.