The One Email List Every Network Operator Must Read
The North American Network Operators' Group (NANOG) is an organization of network operators. It servers as a way for network operators from North America and beyond to communicate with one another. For over 20 years NANOG has been providing a platform for network engineers to communicate with one another, learn from one another and organize with one another. If you are interested in network administration then NANOG is the absolute first place you should be looking to see how the industry is thinking, progressing and organizing.
The Internet networking industry is a interesting place. Unlike many other commercial industries, networking is based on both competition and cooperation. No single network makes up the Internet. Instead many independent networks cooperate together to connect to one another and create one single Internet.
At the same time, each Internet service providers (ISP) wants to increase its own user base and increase its customers. So the ISPs both cooperate by peering with one another, but also compete for customers.
Because cooperation is an integral part of the Internet, a forum for network operators to meet one another is crucial. NANOG holds meetings three times each year. These meetings are physically attended by numerous network operators. These operators meet face to face, make contacts in different companies and organizations and often make business deals with one another.
Peering deals or even paid transit deals are made at NANOG meetings. But it is more than just a business meeting. Techincal presentations are given, vendors display their latest gear, and social networking is accomplished.
If you run a network and have a problem with another network you can email in their NOC (network operating center) and wait for one of their techs to look into things and eventually get a reply. But if you made a personal contact at a NANOG meeting you might have their personal phone number and you can give them a quick text and your issue with be solved in a matter of minutes. I have seen this happen first hand. Knowing someone at an ISP on a personal level can be crucial in getting your problem solved. This is why personal interaction at NANOG is so important.
The other main forum that NANOG provides is a mailing list. This mailing list includes everything from technical advise to news to one network attempting to contact another. It also includes some juicy gossip and network politics sometimes. If you want to keep up with what is going on in the networking world, be sure to subscribe to this email list.
Reading the NANOG list is like reading a discussion between some of the worlds most influential and powerful network operators. And trust me, those ISPs who do not contribute to the list do lurk it.
If you are interested in enterprise level networking, check out NANOG. You will probably learn something.