Nibbles & Bits

APRICOT 2023: Conference Recap

by | March 17, 2023

APRICOT 2023 Manila, 2023-02-20 to 2023-03-02

Representing Asia Pacific’s largest international Internet conference, the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) draws many of the world’s best Internet engineers, operators, researchers, service providers, users, and policy communities from over 50 countries to teach, present, and do their own human networking. With a history that dates back to before the turn of the century, APRICOT plays an important role in helping industry professionals confront challenges, overcome hurdles, and make the internet better for everyone.

Among the many activities that were altered or set to the side during the pandemic were countless conferences in virtually every area of business. That was the story for network engineering industry events, but conditions have gradually improved and in-person events are possible once again. As a result, APRICOT 2023 was recently held in Manila, and it was a big success for all in attendance. Let’s take a moment to recap this important event.

Notable Keynote Speakers

As you would expect from a top event in this industry, there were noteworthy keynote speakers featured at this summit. Specifically, two respected names in this field took some of their valuable time to address attendees both in person and at home.

  • Paul Vixie. Mr. Vixie has a long history in the industry, including founding Farsight Security and the initial anti-spam company, known as MAPS. He is now the VP and Distinguished Engineer for AWS Security.
  • William T. Torres. As a Distinguished Professor at Mapua University, School of Information Technology, Mr. Torres has played a key role in his career in bringing the modern internet to the Philippines.

Of course, many more notable individuals were featured in the programming throughout the event, including many from APNIC, the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre.

Notable Discussions

Sander Steffan and Jan Žorž from 6connect presented their “Stairway to Anycast” talk on Tuesday, during the opening session, and garnered some interest from the community. The topics of the presentation were 6connect’s efforts to build a truly global Anycast network, how the idea emerged, how they started working on first prototypes, and testing in the lab. They also covered global implementation and how they approached the issue of the lack of useful tools for measurement and monitoring of anycast-type networks. Measuring anycast is hard, and nearly impossible if you don’t have millions and millions of vantage points around the world that can execute the measurements and gather them in a database to analyze and interpret the results in a useful and understandable manner.

The major experience gathered during their Anycast project was a realization that Internet routing doesn’t always work in ways that we would expect. You can have a look at the global map and try to guess where your anycast nodes should be, but you’ll never know how you’re seen from around the world without a really good measurement tool, and you are missing a lot of information. For example, which network (or country) prefers which anycast node, is routing optimal, where in the world you are experiencing high RTT (Round Trip Time), and so on.

For example – this was the RTT map of the world when 6connect started using LynkState measurement tool and having 6 anycast locations: Fremont, Miami, Apeldoorn, Ljubljana, Tokyo, and Singapore.

After looking at the measurements they realized that new locations need to be added: Brazil and Sydney.

The African continent was still not well covered, so they decided to add a node in Johannesburg.

The RTT map vastly improved once the nodes were added in the right places. Sander and Jan also explained a little bit about ideas for the future, including where they want to develop their network and what kind of services they would like to enable on the network.

One of the possible improvements would be to introduce a new node in China or somewhere well-connected to China – so if you have any ideas or suggestions for a VPS service with BGP capabilities to announce anycast IPv6 and IPv4 prefixes, please talk to us.

On Wednesday at the first session, René Fichtmüller presented the latest activities of the “Keep Ukraine Connected” project. The war in Ukraine is intensifying and the project is busier than ever. The discussion was about how to best use everyone’s experience to help Ukraine stay connected and broaden the scope to all disasters, not just the war. There are many natural disasters in other places where people get disconnected from the rest of the online world.

Another interesting event happened on Wednesday – the panel titled “IPv4 leasing” with Jordi Palet Martinez as a moderator and Lee Howard, Narelle Clark, and Lu Heng. The question at hand was if IPv4 leasing is permitted in the APNIC region or not. Some people interpret the policy in a way that IPv4 leasing is permitted, while other people’s interpretation is that it’s not permitted.

The heated discussion did not bring any big revelations other than the interpretation of a current policy can’t be seen in any other way than prohibitive leasing of IPv4 space to customers not directly connected to IP holders’ networks. Now, what is “connected”? Does a VPN tunnel between two parties mean that they are “connected”? Does the connection to the same IXP fabric means “connected”?

Another question also emerged – “Do we know who’s the real legal owner of IP addresses?” You can’t sell or lease something that is not yours, clearly. An LIR needed to justify their need for IPv4 addresses on their network in order to become a “holder” of justified IPv4 blocks and that “holdership” should be taken away if they can’t justify their need anymore. Should the RIRs start asking questions to those that are publicly selling their IPv4 blocks, as the will to sell would indicate they can’t justify the use on their network anymore?

On the other hand – with the introduction of transfer policies – all the need for justification went out the door, so should we just conveniently convert initially justified holdership of IPv4 prefixes to permanent ownership and give the right to sell, lease, or whatever LIRs want to do with IPv4 space? In other words, let the free market decide. We are curious about what the community thinks and what the possible outcomes of that panel will be. Is there a need for a new IPv4 policy at APNIC?

On Thursday, there were APNIC board elections that many people around the globe followed with significant interest. There were thirteen candidates running for four available seats.

The election results came in and we would like to congratulate Yoshinobu Matsuzaki, Kenny Huang, Anlei Hu, and Roopinder Singh Perhar

The ten-day summit consists of seminars, workshops, tutorials, conference sessions, birds-of-a-feather (BOFs), and other forums with the goal of spreading and sharing the knowledge required to operate the Internet within the Asia Pacific region.

Many Workshop Options

For some people, workshops are the best part of attending a conference – they get to get their hands “dirty” and build some practical skills that will be valuable upon returning home. Toward that end, APRICOT 2023 was a great success, as there were five workshops available for attendees to consider. Included in the selection were workshops on important topics like Routing Infrastructure and Operational Security, BGP and IPv6 Deployment, and Network Automation for Network Engineers.

Hackathon Event

One of the unique features of the annual APRICOT event is the APNIC Hackathon, which is a limited-size event that participants must apply to in advance. Those invited to participate in an intensive, two-day-long session where a specific problem is targeted with the focused skills and efforts of everyone in the room. For 2023, the focus of the Hackathon was IPv6 Diagnostic Framework.

Looking ahead, the 2024 version of the APRICOT Summit is expected to be held in late February in the South Asia region. More information on that event is sure to come as the dates draw closer. Keep an eye on all future APRICOT events for important insight into the constantly evolving field of network engineering.

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