Review of 2009 Future-Net-Expo

This week I attended the 2009 Future-Net-Expo conference in Boston. This event is a service-provider-focused event that has historically focused on MPLS, Metro Ethernet, and next-generation network technologies. I wanted to share with you what I experienced at the event and some of the great information presented.

This year the Future-Net-Expo event provided a more even amount of content for carriers and enterprises with different tracks for each. This year’s event has sessions from the IP/MPLS Forum and the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF).

This event does have quite a bit of media coverage and the Future-Net-Expo also has its own Facebook and Twitter pages.

I have to admit that the number of attendees of this event was less than I expected. However, having a smaller event wasn’t a disappointment from my perspective. The conference had a more intimate feel that cultivated closer relationships between the attendees. This lead to greater collaboration and made it easier to get to know folks and allowed folks to get to know each other. I found that there was a great international participation in the event and that really helped to learn about what others are working on globally.

The first day of (Monday May 4th) contained tutorial sessions. My favorite tutorial session was one on the topic of Multicast VPN (MVPN). This session was presented by Azhar Sayeed, Director of Product Management – Cisco and Maria Napierala, Technology Architect – AT&T Laboratories. This session covered the ways that customer multicast can be handled within an MPLS WAN service provider’s network. This talk detailed the Default Multicast Distribution Tree (MDT_ which has a new name of MI-PMSI (Multidirectional Inclusive - Provider Multicast Service Instance) and the Data MDT which also has a new name of S-PMSI (Selective - Provider Multicast Service Instance). This session also covered the advantages and disadvantages of using PIM/GRE, mLDP (multicast Label Distribution Protocol), or P2MP TE (Point to Multipoint Traffic Engineering) in the core.

Another session I really enjoyed was a presentation by Kevin Moss, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at BT Americas. He presented on the ICT’s Role in Sustainability Revolution which covered BT’s green IT initiatives. I have done some basic research on the topic of green IT but it was great to hear first hand from an organization that is taking their carbon footprint seriously and putting significant effort into reducing it.

I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions on Tuesday because I had an interview with Brad Reed from Network World who asked me a lot of great questions about IPv6 and security.

On the evening of the second day (May 5th) there was a Beer and Pizza Shoot Out. The topic of the shootout was “The Logical Internet – Will Route Scalability and Address Depletion Create “The Perfect Storm?””. The panel of highly-respected Internet leaders debated if the Internet is doomed to failure based on architectural decisions that were made decades ago. Johna Till Johnson has written an article about the shootout discussing if “The Internet sky really is falling”.

The beginning of the third day (May 6th) started out with a great presentation from John Day, ECE Adjunct Professor, Boston University. John Day gave the Keynote presentation on “The Internet Addressing Crisis Just went to DEFCON 5”. Ironically the term DEFCON stands for Defense Condition and Level 5 is normal peacetime military readiness. I think John Day meant to say DEFCON 1 to indicate maximum preparedness of an imminent disruptive attack.

John has written a book titled Patterns in Network Architecture (PNA) on the topic of networking and protocol theory. John and I traded books and I was able to read it on the way back from Boston. I really liked is book because it gave historical examples of the concepts and provided an object view of how the Internet has reached its current state. John Day is also a member of the Pouzin Society which is a group of individuals focused on next generation Internet architectures. While this group has many great ideas it is highly unlikely that any of these ideas can be implemented before IPv4 address depletion occurs and we must migrate to IPv6. There is another NetworkWorld article by Jeff Caruso on this subject that you can find here.

Monique Morrow from Cisco presented several times at the conference. On Wednesday morning she gave an exception presentation on Disruption: Emerging Technologies and Business Models. Monique is an amazing women and it is certainly great to hear her share her vast knowledge of networking and experience in the industry that is in constant change. She has written many books on MPLS technologies and has a global view of the networking industry from her focus on Asia and other growing markets.

Tom Nadeau, Senior Network Architect at BT gave a presentation on Ethernet Everywhere. In his presentation he shared the goal of BT to leverage Ethernet transport as much as possible. Even though my master’s thesis was on ATM I have always been an advocate of Ethernet for its simplicity and ubiquity. Tom’s presentations succinctly covered the benefits of Ethernet transport and how BT uses it throughout their infrastructure. His calm and confident speaking style is wonderful to listen to. He was also part of the shootout panel the previous evening and he was part of the IPv6 carrier panel on Wednesday so it was great to hear him speak multiple times.

On Wednesday I had a book signing for our book on IPv6 Security and I had an interview with Mike and Tim Scannell of TechTarget. I had also been recently interviewed earlier this year by Tessa Parmenter, Associate Site Editor at SearchNetworking.com about our book and why people will find its content useful.

We gave away over 40 copies of our book to attendees at the conference who were very interested in learning more about IPv6 and the security implications of deploying the protocol in carrier networks. Hopefully those reading our book will gain an appreciation for the issues at hand and strive to create a more secure initial deployment of IPv6 than might have otherwise occurred.

In the afternoon of Wednesday there was a series of fascinating presentations on IPv6. John Curran, President and CEO of ARIN presented on IPv6 and transition planning for carriers and enterprises. As always, his presentations are enlightening and entertaining because of his captivating speaking style. Recently ARIN has send out approximately 15,000 letters warning its members about the IPv4 depletion crisis occurring in the next 2-3 years and indicating that the rules for gaining IPv4 addresses will be restricted. John made several key points and made several calls to action for service providers, enterprises, and content providers: 

  • People need to realize that IPv6 is inevitable
  • People need to get their IPv6 blocks now
  • Start to dual-stack your web servers and e-mail servers
  • Internet Service Providers need to dual-stack their infrastructures if they intend to grow in the future
  • Equipment vendors need to develop IPv6-capable products ahead of the demand (now)
  • Content providers need to start to get content dual-stack enabled

John also mentioned the ARIN IPv6 Information Center. ARIN has also created a Wiki to share information about IPv6 with its members and the general public.

There was a brief IPv6 Carrier Panel with Tom Nadeu of BT, Doug Junkins of NTT America, and a gentleman from Global Crossing. Doug Junkins, VP of IP Development at NTT America gave a brief presentation on IPv6 deployment at NTT. After a few presentations the panel answered questions about their IPv6 deployment plans and the challenges they have faced with embracing IPv6.

I gave a presentation IPv6 Security that covered the threats against IPv6 networks and provides solutions on how to mitigate those. It covered the issues and the current practices for securing an IPv6 network.

On the last day (Thursday May 7th) the presentations were split into service provider and enterprise tracks. While these presentations were shorter in duration they provided a great way to hear a lot of different viewpoints on networking.

I enjoyed the presentation by Alex Henthorn-Iwane, VP of Product Marketing at Packet Design that covered the benefits provided by effectively managing the control plane and data plane of networks.

I also enjoyed the talk by Tesh Durvasula, Chief Marketing and Business Officer of telx discuss their service offerings and the benefits of chosing their carrier-neutral collocation facilities. Tesh also mentioned that Hurricane Electric and NTT America are being used by telx for IPv6 connectivity.

All in all the conference was cerebrally stimulating and a fun event in a great location with fantastic hospitality. Thanks Future-Net!

 Scott

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