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Christian Koch on Local Networks, Peering, and Bringing a Network Operators Group to NYC

WAN Summit Internet Conferences

By Jayne MillerJun 15, 2017

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Christian Koch is passionate about the internet.

He currently leads Core Network Planning and Implementation for Pilot Fiber, an internet service provider (ISP) that supplies internet to businesses in New York City and Philadelphia.

When he's not at Pilot Fiber, he's connecting New York network operators and technology professionals as the president of New York Network Operators Group (NYNOG). This group—which describes itself as "an organization by engineers, for engineers"—welcomes networking and technology professionals and provides a place to talk shop.

Christian was kind enough to sit down and tell us more about the group and provide an inside look into the conversations happening between modern network professionals.

Big picture: tell us about NYNOG. What gave you the idea for this group and how did you put that idea into action?

In North America, network operators have one of the best forums and communities in the world where they can meet fellow engineers and operators, learn about new technologies, and listen to first-hand experiences from other operators (NANOG). When I first started out as a network operator 15 years ago, I didn't have access to this forum. Whether it was an employer that didn’t believe in sending employees to conferences—or just didn't have the budget—at the end of the day, I couldn't go.

We got together with a few folks and put our first NYNOG meetup together in May 2016. It was instantly a hit; we couldn't even get everyone who wanted to register and attend in because the space was not big enough.

After a few years into my career, NANOG landed in Brooklyn and I finally made it to my first event, which was just under 10 years ago.

Then a few years back the Chicago Network Operators Group formed and began hosting local events in Chicago. I spoke to my colleague and friend Dave Temkin, and we wondered whether something similar would work in New York City.

We got together with a few folks and put our first NYNOG meetup together in May 2016. It was instantly a hit; we couldn't even get everyone who wanted to register and attend in because the space was not big enough.

Fast forward to today, we’ve now held three events, incorporated, and are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a goal of bringing educational programs to the network operator and engineering community of New York City.

Set the scene for us: what kind of conversations do you have at a typical NYNOG event?

Our goal is to provide a collaborative environment, with interactive presentations and social time. Our events are typically after-work events that run for a few hours. We have presentations on a wide variety of topics on networking technologies and infrastructure. It includes a diverse community, from C-Level executives and senior operators, to students and engineers just entering the workforce.

You are seeing more software engineers getting involved in networking, and more traditional network engineers learn software engineering.

The possibilities for the types of conversations you will have at NYNOG are endless. Whether it’s discussing the newest technologies, operational experiences, and challenges with new friends and colleagues—or where to get the best slice of pizza. We're a community that is open for everyone that works with networks, or has a desire to work with networks, or just learn.

I see that one of your last events was all about interconnection. Any highlights from that session you can share with us? 

Yes, we had a great event that focused on interconnection in 2016. We had talks that dove into the engineering around interconnection operations, as well discussion about the business side.

What’s interesting is that there has been a large shift over the past few years that is fundamentally changing how organizations approach peering and interconnection. It’s not as simple as a handshake, as it once was.

Looking forward, I know NYNOG will be treated to a speaker session on the future of network engineering. What’s your take on the future of network engineering?

Network engineering has been changing for years. With change comes resistance and uncertainty, but it’s important to embrace change and look at the positive outcomes. I believe we’re moving forward, not backward. You are seeing more software engineers getting involved in networking, and more traditional network engineers learn software engineering.

You’re seeing new companies, and old, pushing away from traditional network architectures, economics, and business models.

There’s never been a better time to be a network operator, and we’re excited for the future of the NYNOG community and what's in store.

 

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Internet Peering as a Cloud Enabler

If you're interested in the conversations happening at NYNOG, you might like Christian Koch's presentation at WAN Summit New York, which takes a closer look at peering. Click below to watch.

WATCH THE PRESENTATION