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Report from Mark Mahle, NetActuate CEO

NANOG (the North American Network Operators Group) is a gathering of over 1,000 networking professionals held three times each year across the United States. This event brings together network operators, vendors, visionaries, and everyone related to making the internet work.

Held in Denver, Colorado, NetActuate’s CEO Mark Mahle and Senior DevOps Engineer Josh McBeth enjoyed NANOG’s friendly “coop-etition” atmosphere. It was a great chance for our staff to meet our vendors, partners, customers and others related to making the internet “go.”

NANOG73 started by honoring recently-retired Executive Director Betty Burke, who served for seven years. Burke played an instrumental role in building NANOG from the ground up – from only a few members in the beginning to the thriving, vibrant community of thousands today.

During her address, Burke emphasized the importance of staying engaged. “We are all in this together,” said Burke, noting the important roles everyone there played in creating the fabric of the internet.

After highlighting all the great innovation taking place today, Burked concluded with a simple message: “We are not done.”

Thank you, Betty, for engaging – and being such a critical piece of the fabric that weaves us together. We were inspired by your message of staying engaged and taking action; not waiting, but truly participating; knowing that we are not done, and trusting that there is still much to do.

Next, Paul E. Szurek, Coresite CEO and host sponsor of NANOG73 spoke about his own experience in the industry since 1984. He reflected on just how far NANOG and the internet has come, as well as Coresite as a company.

Highlights from Szurek’s talk include some startling statistics:

  • Since 2000, the world has grown 25%
  • In that same time, there has been a 17,800% increase in connected devices
  • Global internet traffic has grown from 75 petabytes (1024 terabytes) per month to 122 exabytes (1024 petabytes), to a projected 14 zetabytes (1,024 exabytes) by 2025
  • Cost of bandwidth down 40%

Szurek also mentioned that consumer behavior is driving technology to lengths never thought possible

  • 25% of users abandon a website within 3 seconds
  • 48% of users uninstall apps because they are slow

Next, Szurek talked about how businesses are deploying hybrid cloud environments and networks to reach markets all over – without deploying their own data center resources. At times, these deployments can be complicated, but the approach works well and the interoperability allows for many new types of partnerships to flourish.

Coresite’s own story is one of growth – as we have seen being a longtime, happy Coresite partner ourselves since colocating in their original datacenter location. They started with just a few dozen customers and have grown to over 1300 with more than 25,000 cross-connects.

NANOG’s keynote was presented by Facebook’s Najam Ahmad. He presented a very interesting case study of Facebook, and why they utilize an “Operations First, Features Second” philosophy. Some staggering facts about Facebook include:

  • 2.2 billion subscribers
  • Over 300 million photos uploaded per day
  • Over 1 million comments and status updates per second

All of these must delivered quickly, without downtime. Facebook operates datacenters all over the world. When Hurricane Sandy hit their datacenter, their service was impacted, but they were able to recover. However, when looking at what might have happened if a hurricane took out their datacenter in Ashburn, Virginia, they realized Facebook would not recover if it had flooded or been destroyed.

What followed was Facebook’s journey into the operations first, features second mindset – meaning that keeping the service up became their very top priority. The one realization that they had not built their infrastructure to be redundant enough to survive a disaster launched more than 18 months of work. The goal: being able to fully power down ANY of their datacenters, and have service continue.

Ahmad reflected that achieving their goal required a massive effort and realignment of their core philosophy. Today, Facebook routinely shuts down datacenters to make sure their services failover without issue. At NetActuate, we fully embrace this approach – which ensures the infrastructure is redundant enough for 100% uptime.

After the keynote, NANOG offered our staff three full days of exciting sessions, with a large focus on automating networks, multi-cloud and evolved campus core deployments, as well as strategies for dealing with DDoS attacks and security threats. Many networking opportunities, including the peering forum and social events, as well as the “hallway” track, provided ample opportunity to meet our peers and learn what our colleagues and the industry as a whole are working on.

NANOG73 was a smashing success with over 1200 attendees and we’re looking forward to attending again.