Its been too many years since the Australian network operators got together and had their own workshop that was focussed on their common interests in network operational technology. Various ‘NOGs are active all over the world from New Zealand’s NZNOG meetings in January of each year to NANOG in North America. It was therefore all the more welcome to see that first Australian Network Operators’ Group meeting held in Sydney in mid-November 2007.
The topics that interest network operators are certainly many and varied, from the trails and tribulations of deployment of competitive DSL infrastructure in this country, to a detailed analysis of the differences between wireless and wired infrastructure for non-metropolitan areas. Being an island its not surprising that if you want high capacity connectivity in and out of the country then submarine cable is an absolute requirement, and the latest developments in cable technology and forthcoming cable installations were presented. Its no longer an activity that is the exclusive preserve of the legacy telephone operators as a new wave of competition competition enters this once tightly controlled space. Also workshop were given a an in-depth analysis of the next set of DSL standards and how DSL is managing to get up to 50Mbps out of a single copper pair, with the prospect of a further doubling of this speed with the latest Australian research on this topic.
It’s pretty much mandatory at the moment to have an update on the looming exhaustion of IPv4 addresses and the state of IPv6 deployment, or lack of it, and this workshop was no exception. We also heard about a less well known exhaustion issue within the number space used by internet routing and the way in which this is being addresses at the operational level in the BGP protocol. Put this together with information about Botnet activity, device-driven networks and overlay service delivery, and you have an very full agenda of operational topics.
Its not all just network engineers and operators and the vendors who sell to this industry who were at this workshop. Some of the issues that are exposed in these operational venues are themselves substantial research issues, and, like other NOG venues across the globe, the AusNOG
workshop attracted interest from researchers who are working in this area. The participation at AUSNOG from the Centre for Advanced Internet Architecture of the Swinburne University of Technology was notable in this respect. Their approach to real time network monitoring using a 3D game engine was truly innovative, and if I had to nominate what I found to be the most interesting paper of the entire workshop it would have to be the researchers and their game engine. At one level there is something quite appealing to my inner geek about shooting an Access Control List into a recalcitrant router! At the same time at a slightly more serious level it is really heartening to me as an Australian to see that there is still active academic and research interest in networking in Australia and that there are some truly innovative approaches being considered by Australian researchers to some of the tougher outstanding challenges in network operations.
It looks like it will be on again in April 2008 – if you can make it it should be worth your time to come along!