Looking back on RIPE 74

From May 8th to 12th I was able to attend the 74th RIPE meeting in Budapest, Hungary. Being rather new to the networking community, I enjoyed learning a lot of different things, not only from the various interesting talks but also from inspiring conversations with a variety of people from all areas during the beautiful social events.

As it was the first RIPE meeting for me, I was very thankful for the “Newcomer’s Introduction” on Monday morning, containing a RIPE and RIPE NCC 101. It was quite helpful to get into the mindset and understand the structure of the meeting, like the division into different working groups based on the participants’ interests. After familiarizing myself with the concept, I chose to attend several sessions on Address Policy, IPv6, Routing, Open Source, and DNS working groups besides the general plenary sessions. I’ll be reviewing those sessions here.

After an extensive welcome at the opening plenary, Edward Lewis of ICANN gave a talk about the DNESSEC KSK rollover. Although not having worked with DNESSEC yet, it was a fascinating insight into the problem of changing a dataset that is spread over “the whole Internet”. The afternoon featured an insight into xCloud Networks’ SDN concept and monitor-oriented lightning talks.

On Tuesday morning, Elvis Daniel Velea talked about “IPv4 Transfers 5 Years after Runout“, going into detail about the challenge of dealing with the scarce resource of legacy addresses, a topic that was later extended in the Address Policy workgroup on Wednesday.

Of particular interest for all German attendees was certainly the talk about Freifunk Rheinland held by Philip Bendroth and Maximilian Wilhelm. They discussed the challenges of creating an ISP without budget, number resources, hardware or transit.

Afterwards, internet veteran Geoff Huston did a devastating assessment and outright cataclysmal forecast about IoT during his “Introduction to Internet of Stupid Things” talk. His presentation left the audience slightly shaken by the pointed aggregation of brokenness, one knows exist, but usually does not piece together for their own peace of mind.

Happily, hope was brought back in the afternoon by Constanze Dietrich who did “An Empirical Investigation of Operator’s Perspective on Security Misconfugurations” session. The focus of her presentation was researching structural and organizational problems that often lead to dangerous mistakes in operating departments, while also trying to tackle these problems from an operator and management perspective to make the world a place of better infrastructure.

To continue the relentless pursuit of security in the Internet, our very own Enno Rey talked about “Why IPv6 Security Is So Hard“, targeting structural design components of IPv6 which can make it hard to understand and thus leading to failure as for creating correct and secure implementations. Later, he continued to strive for accuracy in IPv6 implementations during the corresponding working group session on Wednesday by presenting “A Look at IPv6 Address Selection from the Lab” and participating in a panel discussion on IPv6 in enterprise environments.

Afterwards, we all enjoyed drinks and snacks in the ambience of the Vigado concert hall, a time-honored building of beautiful interior, where inspiring and meaningful discussions about network and society took place.

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with the various working group sessions. The Address Policy meetings mainly consisted of policy proposals and the corresponding debates, which I will not cover in detail here. These rather dry sessions were compensated by the meeting of the IPv6 working group, which I already mentioned above. The topics of the Routing working group were also rather technical, ranging from IRR filtering to BGP table fragmentation. The Open Source session had some interesting insights such as ISC’s new DHCP server “Kea”, a useful tool suite for RPKI monitoring and validation, and FRR, essentially a quagga fork that has been extensively optimized by the community.

Thursday evening the RIPE NCC hosted a dinner commemorating its 25th birthday, and where better to hold such an anniversary, but in the Hungarian National Gallery (Magyar Nemzeti Galeria) within Buda Castle. Provided with a beautiful view of the city from the terrace and balcony as well as the indulgence of fine art within, RIPE NCC Director Axel Pawlik was gifted with the birthday cake and advised to cut it in parts not any larger than a /24.

Friday morning held not only the closing event, but beforehand a discussion on “Diversity in the RIPE Community“, broaching the issue of lack of gender and racial diversity at these meetings. Though sadly not many people attended, it is very important to include these topics, because I think we need to do something to break the institution of a majority white western male community. This majority basically creates all our standards and shapes the way the Internet – nowadays maybe the most important and defining means of communication and information exchange – works.

And now a lovely weekend to all of you!