Guest Blog - Community at Its Best: Insights from NANOG 90

February 21, 2024


Guest Blog - Community at Its Best: Insights from NANOG 90

Attendee Shares Takeaways from NANOG's Most Recent Meeting

by Justin Ryburn


Internet technology and infrastructure is a constantly changing industry. Staying ahead of the curve is crucial for professionals and organizations alike. 

Enter NANOG, the North American Network Operators Group, a vital organization for networking experts, engineers, and stakeholders to collaborate, learn, and innovate. 

Recently, NANOG held its 90th conference, drawing attendees from across North America to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and chart the course for the future of networking. I was fortunate enough to attend. 

Here are my key highlights and insights from NANOG 90!

The Spirit of Collaboration

At the heart of NANOG is collaboration; NANOG 90 was no exception. Networking professionals from diverse backgrounds converged to foster meaningful connections and engage in constructive dialogue. From seasoned veterans to emerging talents, attendees had the opportunity to interact with peers, industry leaders, and experts in various domains of network operations and engineering. I was able to collaborate with colleagues I had not seen in years. 

The beauty of NANOG is the diverse engineers it attracts due to its change of location with every meeting. NANOG takes place three times a year in different locations across North America. Due to travel budget constraints, this enables local engineers nearby to attend who otherwise would not be able to.


Keynote Speeches

Monday's keynote speech was entitled Abstract Ponderings: A Ten-year Retrospective and delivered by Rob Shakir from Google. Rob has spent the last ten years as a significant contributor to the OpenConfig standards across various vendor implementations. He and the industry gained invaluable operational insights during this time, particularly in streaming telemetry and configuration system development. I had the pleasure of working with Rob and his colleagues at Google while supporting that account at Juniper Networks. Rob shared some great insights into the OpenConfig community's progress and some of the lessons they have learned. The journey is far from over, but much progress has been made in the last ten years. This Keynote is worth watching!

Tuesday's keynote speech was entitled A Brief History of the Internet in North Carolina and delivered by Mark Johnson of SpekiGroup. Mark served as the CTO of MSNC, the regional and education network for the state of North Carolina, and had a front-row seat for the pivotal role the state played in advancing computer science and the Internet. This advancement was greatly facilitated by the proximity of three prominent research universities, creating an environment conducive to innovation and early breakthroughs in Internet technology. While North Carolina's journey in Internet service and adoption mirrors that of other regions in some respects, it has some distinctions. I could not attend this Keynote, but I heard good things about it and look forward to watching the replay.

Technical Presentations

One of the main attractions of NANOG conferences is the lineup of technical presentations, and NANOG 90 was no exception. Sessions covered many topics, including DDoS attack tracking, RPKi, and updates on the databases network operators rely on, like PeeringDB and RIR. Other issues included emerging technologies like network automation, A.I. interconnect fabrics, and TreeDN. Renowned speakers shared their expertise, offering valuable insights into the latest trends, challenges, and best practices shaping the network landscape. With technology evolving rapidly, NANOG 90 provided a platform to explore emerging trends and technologies reshaping the internet infrastructure.


Networking and Beer N Gear

In addition to the fantastic technical content, NANOG 90 featured networking receptions, social events, and community gatherings where attendees could unwind, connect with peers, and forge new friendships. These informal interactions often lead to fruitful collaborations, partnerships, and mentorship opportunities, fostering a sense of camaraderie within the NANOG community. Beer N Gear is always a popular event on Tuesday evening that allows attendees to enjoy some adult beverages, catch up with the latest hardware and software releases from the vendors, and reconnect with colleagues from around the industry.

Looking Ahead

As NANOG 90 ended, participants departed with a renewed sense of inspiration, armed with fresh insights and strategies to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of internet infrastructure. While the conference may have concluded, the conversations, connections, and collaborations started at NANOG 90 will continue, driving innovation and shaping the future of networking.

NANOG 90 exemplified the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing that defines the NANOG community. By bringing together industry leaders, experts, and enthusiasts, the conference catalyzed advancing the state of networking and empowering professionals to tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the digital frontier. As we eagerly anticipate the next installment of NANOG, one thing remains certain – the journey towards a more connected and resilient internet infrastructure is a collective endeavor, and NANOG will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping its trajectory.



Justin Ryburn

Justin Ryburn is the Field CTO at network observability company Kentik. He has 25 years of experience in network operations, engineering, sales, and marketing with service providers and vendors. Justin contributed content to Cyber Forensics (Auerbach Publishing, 2007) and authored Day One: Deploying BGP FlowSpec (Juniper, 2015). He has also spoken at numerous industry conferences on the topics of network observability and security. Justin currently lives in St. Louis with his wife and two kids. His blog is at and you can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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