In the ever-evolving landscape of networking and internet technologies, events like the 40th gathering South Asia Network Operators Group (SANOG) hold a special place. For the unfamiliar, SANOG hosts a bi-annual regional gathering, which serves as a vital platform for network operators, professionals, and technology enthusiasts from South Asia and beyond. The latest edition, SANOG 40 was hosted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, by the Lanka Network Operators Group (LKNOG), which itself marked its 7th anniversary, and welcomed participants from diverse backgrounds – network engineers, system administrators, cybersecurity experts, policy-makers, and researchers, all with a shared goal: to nurture a robust and secure Internet infrastructure.
At the heart of SANOG 40 was the commitment to knowledge-sharing and fostering discussions on crucial aspects of Internet infrastructure, security, and development. This collective impact was made possible through the efforts of LKNOG and the support it received from a host of partners. Among these significant partners, LEARN shone brightly as an active contributor from the early stages of organizing SANOG to ensuring smooth registrations to enriching the discourse during the event itself by sharing its wealth of experience in building robust digital infrastructure. Here’s a glimpse of what unfolded at SANOG 40 through the eyes of LEARN, which saw it unfold from inception to conclusion.
What is SANOG 40?
In the heart of Colombo, the South Asia Network Operators Group (SANOG) marked its 40th edition, a testament to the enduring spirit of collaboration in the world of networking and internet technologies. For the unfamiliar, SANOG is a regional bi-annual gathering, serving as an invaluable platform for network operators, Internet service providers, and technology professionals from South Asia and beyond. It’s an occasion where they can collectively tackle critical issues related to Internet infrastructure, security, and development, transcending geographical boundaries.
This milestone event was hosted by the Lanka Network Operators Group (LKNOG), celebrating its 7th anniversary. Held over a week, SANOG 40 brought together a diverse array of participants, ranging from network engineers and system administrators to cybersecurity experts, policy-makers, and researchers. The common thread that united them all was the commitment to nurturing a robust and secure Internet infrastructure. The event was a multifaceted affair, commencing with a full-day conference on October 16th at the Hilton Colombo. This was followed by an engaging series of workshops where hands-on learning and skill development took centre stage.
How LEARN supported SANOG 40
As a member of the Lanka Network Operators Group (LKNOG) and a key supporting partner of SANOG 40, LEARN offered multifaceted support for this milestone event. LEARN’s team members joined the SANOG 40 organizing committee, collaborating closely with LKNOG to ensure a seamless event. LEARN actively promoted the conference within the local academic community, spreading the word about SANOG 40’s benefits and creating a larger network for knowledge-sharing. LEARN’s involvement went beyond promotion; the organization helped streamline the registration process for all attendees, ensuring a smooth experience while also offering financial support.
SANOG 40: A Glimpse into the Conference
Held on the 16th of October 2023, the SANOG 40 conference became a focal point for knowledge exchange and networking, featuring a varied range of sessions and presentations. Throughout the event, attendees engaged in thought-provoking discussions, interactive workshops, and technical presentations, all strategically crafted to navigate the ever-evolving challenges and advancements in the field. Beyond the diverse content, the true significance of SANOG 40 emanated from the collaborative spirit and shared learning that characterized this landmark gathering.
The Opening Plenary
The SANOG 40 conference opened with an opening plenary session that featured distinguished figures. Rupesh Shrestha, the SANOG Chair, alongside Subhashini Kadurugasyaya from LKNOG and Roopinder Singh Perhar from APNIC, delivered their respective welcome addresses to the attendees. These introductions paved the way for two compelling keynote presentations. The first keynote, titled “The Evolution of Network Forensics: From Non-Forensic to Forensic Devices,” was delivered by Prof. Kasun De Zoysa, a Computer Science Professor at the University of Colombo School of Computing. It was followed shortly after by the second keynote, “How Sri Lankan languages are used in multilingual internet,” which was presented by Harsha Wijayawardhana, the COO/CTO of Theekshana. After the opening plenary, SANOG 40’s technical sessions kicked off, which formed the crux of the event, providing a rich learning environment for attendees.
A Trio of Technical Sessions
Divided into three segments, these sessions addressed a wide spectrum of networking subjects, fostering a holistic understanding of the field. The inaugural technical session, chaired by Sushil Kulkarni, featured presentations that pushed the envelope of networking possibilities. “Deploying Fiber at 4000m – Everest Community Network” by Naveed Haque and “DNS Security & Challenges of DNSSEC Implementation” by Sampath Hennayake were among the highlights. After a lunch break, the second technical session, under the guidance of Philip Paeps, delved into topics like “DDoS in South Asia” by Dave Phelan, “Routing Table Update” by Philip Smith, and “RPKI in South Asia” by Terry Sweetser. The session culminated with a captivating presentation titled “Let’s Encrypt: Automate all the things.” The event continued with the third technical session, moderated by Subhashini Kadurugasyaya, featuring presentations such as “SANOG-39: A Journey of Learning and Implementation,” “Kubernetes Networking: Under the Hood and Beyond,” and “Accelerating Hyper-Converged Enterprise Virtualization using Proxmox and Ceph.”
The Closing Plenary
The closing plenary, chaired by Rupesh Shrestha, provided an opportunity for updates on SANOG and LKNOG. Among those sharing updates was Dhammika Lalantha from LEARN who shared valuable insights into the organization’s growth and its pivotal role in providing robust local and international connectivity to several Sri Lankan higher education and research institutions. Beyond connectivity, his presentation also highlighted how the organization is supporting these institutions with an array of digital services. Examples of notable services include Premium Zoom accounts, LEARN Identity Access Federation, EduRoam, LEARN Technical Assistance Center, and Computer Security Incident Response Team, which are enhancing the digital infrastructure of local academia. The conference then concluded on an appreciative note, recognizing the vital contributions of sponsors, speakers, and workshop coordinators.
Empowering Expertise through Workshops at SANOG 40
Beyond the conference, SANOG 40 also provided participants with invaluable hands-on learning opportunities through a series of workshops designed to hone their networking skills and enhance their technical expertise. These workshops, covering a spectrum of vital networking aspects, brought a practical dimension to the event. In doing so, they collectively served as an opportunity for participants, including network professionals from LEARN, to acquire practical knowledge. LEARN’s expertise was particularly notable in the campus network design and operation workshop and the network security and DNSSEC workshop. Ultimately, these workshops at SANOG 40 equipped networking professionals from across the South Asian region to tackle the evolving challenges of the digital age, while actively contributing to the discourse.
Workshop #1: Campus Network Design and Operations Workshop
This workshop, aimed at networking professionals from universities, was marked by its technical depth and hands-on lab work. It sought to equip participants with the skills necessary to design, build, operate, and manage organizational network infrastructure based on current best practices. Over a week, participants delved into core organizational infrastructure design principles, covering network design principles, physical infrastructure, fibre optics, switching, routing, IPv4, IPv6, and the deployment of dual-stack infrastructure. The workshop also explored the selection of routers and switches. Campus security implementation and best practices were another vital component, encompassing areas such as acceptable use policies, monitoring, and firewall placement. The knowledge gained here promised to enhance organizational network performance, security, and reliability, thus improving the end user’s day-to-day Internet experience.
Workshop #2: Advanced BGP, IPv6, and RPKI
Geared towards technical and network engineering staff involved in building or operating service provider or enterprise networks, this workshop by APNIC at SANOG 40 delved into advanced aspects of BGP, IPv6, and RPKI. Participants explored multi-homing, peering point participation, dual-stack operations, and the deployment of IPv6. The workshop emphasized enhancing routing security through the deployment of RPKI and validation, empowering participants to tackle complex networking challenges.
Workshop #3: Network Security and DNSSEC
The third workshop of SANOG 40 focused on security, which is a broad topic but one of paramount importance in the modern digital landscape as it impacts infrastructure and users at all levels. As such, the workshop explored key concepts, protocols, policies, and practices to safeguard data and assets against potential threats. It encompassed network infrastructure security, emphasizing the creation of stable networks with secure routing. It also delved into security operations, frameworks, and common security incidents and breaches. Additionally, countermeasures and mitigation tools were discussed, making it a valuable resource for network managers, operators, engineers, and policy-makers. Collectively, the workshop enabled participants to gain a comprehensive understanding of network security and enhance their skills to build secure networks.
SANOG 40 – Uniting Networking Experts Across South Asia
In closing, SANOG 40 was a dynamic gathering of networking professionals, industry leaders, and enthusiasts hailing from various South Asian regions. The event, hosted by LKNOG with support from valued partners like LEARN, Lk Domain Registry, APNIC, NSRC, AWS, Google, Team Cymru, Flexoptix, SLTMobitel, and others, played a crucial role as a regional platform. From its engaging plenary sessions to the hands-on workshops, SANOG 40 covered a broad spectrum of topics relevant to building and maintaining versatile digital infrastructure.
Undoubtedly, this latest edition of SANOG reaffirmed its significance as a prominent regional event, fostering collaboration among networking professionals in South Asia, operating in the ever-evolving field of networking and internet technologies. The diverse range of sessions, presentations, and workshops not only enriched participants’ learning experiences but also contributed to the professional growth of networking experts, equipping them to tackle the evolving challenges presented by the digital age. Thus, SANOG 40 exemplified the power of regional collaboration and the relentless pursuit of excellence in the realm of networking to ensure South Asia has robust networks fit for the digital age.