One of the perks of being a network engineer is networking. While that may seem obvious, in this instance I don’t mean moving internet packets from location to location, I mean human networking.
Face-to-face events mean engineers from every kind of organisation who help steer the internet get together to discuss new ideas and technologies. Recently two of these events took place in Europe and both were special for the same reason – they celebrated twenty years of their respective organisations. LINX 85 was held in London and AMS-IX More IP was held in Amsterdam. Peering exchanges are important for organisations that care about the quality of their connectivity within the internet. They facilitate direct connectivity - or “peering” between local networks. Prior to the existence of peering LANs, all internet traffic between networks would be routed by transit providers. Due to architectural constraints, these providers often routed traffic across many devices, sometimes in far-reaching locations before another transit network would return the traffic to the same city as it came from. Peering removes these extra hops from the equation, and in the case of LINX and AMS-IX, keeps traffic within London and Amsterdam respectively. The effect of this is much higher quality and faster connectivity for everyone.
I went to the More IP event in Amsterdam, where close to 200 people attended from organisations throughout Europe. Various presentations were shared from organisations such as RIPE, the NBIP (Nationale Beheersorganisatie Internet Providers - a Dutch industry group), and AMS-IX engineers themselves. A personal highlight was a presentation from André Kuipers, an astronaut from the International Space Station who shared some of his experiences of human spaceflight and (very) far reaching internet access.
As a follow up to discussions at this and other meetings, me and the other network engineers at ServerChoice constantly have new technologies to test in the lab. Watch this space as some of them may eventually make it through to production networks!