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Preparing for the BIG ONE: Networking Field Day 21

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I am once again fortunate enough to be invited to a Tech Field Day event; THE BIGGEST EVER. Read on as I try to convey my excitement and share some of my preparation.

The Event

Networking Field Day 21, NFD21 for short, consists of 13 vendors presenting to 17 different delegates over four days in Silicone Valley from October 1 to 4, 2019.

This event will mark my 3rd time as a delegate. I previously attended NFD18 and CLUS19 and collected some thoughts in this post.

The People

The people are what make this event so enjoyable.

The event staff is terrific. They’ve spent months planning, preparing, and organizing to make sure everyone, delegates and vendors alike, get what they need to be comfortable and successful. They treat you so well that there is even a CCIE who will get coffee for you. I’m sure it sometimes feels like they are herding cats, but they do a great job.

I was really excited to meet the other delegates at my first event. For the delegates I don’t already know, this event is no exception. Because this is my third event, I’ve met a few previously, and am just as excited to catch up.

What I wasn’t expecting at my first event was the level of interaction with each vendors’ presentation team. Not only is there professional interaction during presentations, but there is also personal interaction during social events. I won’t reveal who it is, but there is at least one presenter who I’m very excited to meet.

The combined experiences, both personal and professional, of the people who enjoy hobnobbing at these events is truly remarkable. These events always rejuvenate me and get me excited to do great things when I return to my corner of the world.

The Presenting Sponsors

Arrcus produces a Linux-based network operating system called ArcOS that will work on any system based on the Jericho2 chipset. Jericho2 supports 100Gbps to 400Gbps interfaces in a high-density form factor. The marketing material on their website shows this disaggregated system, also known as white-box switching, being deployed virtually anywhere from remote offices to data centres to WAN environments and even to public clouds.

Although I have no experience with white box switching, I am a networker at heart. I’m eager to learn more about this subject as I wouldn’t hesitate to deploy a disaggregated solution if it met all business requirements.

Aruba has a 4-hour and 15-minute time slot starting at 8 am on October 4. They shared their presentation plans in this post. “Software-Defined” has been marketed and deployed in various form factors in recent years by many vendors. It looks like Aruba’s SD-WAN, SD-LAN and SD-BRANCH solutions integrate with public cloud offerings.

Barefoot Networks is an Intel company. Their Tofino and Tofino2 chips are programmable using the P4 programming language, allowing direct programming of the forwarding plane. I’m interested to hear the use cases for this. I don’t know many network operators worthy of this kind of access and power.

Cisco is the most well-known networking company in the world and the one I am most familiar with. They have been innovating across many verticals for many years. Their presentation could be about anything. I hope it’s about automation and orchestration as I’ve been actively adding these to my skill set.

DellEMC is an industry behemoth. Their offerings include network, compute, storage, virtualization and more. This presentation could also cover a wide range of topics.

Extreme Networks has been active with acquisitions in recent years. Their portfolio includes routing, switching and wireless products as well as network visibility and analytics solutions.

Forward Networks is the creator of Forward Enterprise. Some of the use cases outlined are to create network documentation and visualization as well as perform network and configuration audits. The tag line on their website is “Network Automation and Verification for your Intent-Based Network.”

Intel is another large company which can present on just about anything. I used to be very familiar with their Network Interface Cards (NICs), but have no experience with their traditional networking products. I’m eager to be reminded of what this innovative company has to offer.

Itential is a player in the network automation space. While browsing their website, the thing that struck me the most is that it appears they can incorporate the automation progress you’ve made so far. Not having to scrap what you’ve already developed allows for a more natural transition. It should be technically painless and financially smoother.

Ixia is famous for their network testing and network visibility products. I’ve had the opportunity to use some of their testing products and was very impressed. I’ve also looked into their visibility products, but the supporting project never got off the ground, so no purchases were ever made.

Network to Code can be described as a network automation enabler. They offer training courses to get your resources past the beginner phase quicker than they might on their own. They also provide professional services to help fast track your automation journey or pending network deployment.

NGiNX got its start by creating open-source web server software that was initially designed to handle large numbers of concurrent connections. This functionality grew to include reverse proxying, caching, load balancing, media streaming, and more. As NGiNX is now part of F5, I’m curious how it fits in that ecosystem.

Testuto offers a multi-vendor, cloud-based virtual lab. Like many networkers, I have experience with small, VM-based labs. I’m interested to see the scaling and performance numbers for this solution.

The You

You can also participate in NFD21 as the presentations will be live-streamed at the event website. Engaging in the conversation is as easy as playing along on Twitter. The #NFD21 hashtag is what will get your comments and questions noticed by the delegates in attendance. Your questions will then be relayed to the presenters. You can also tweet directly @ me, @wollmannbruno, and I will make sure to proxy your questions. Tweeting directly @ any of the other delegates will have the same result.

If you would like to become a delegate, check out this link.

Disclosure: I was invited to participate in NFD21, and this participation is voluntary. Gestalt IT hosts the event and my transportation, accommodations, food and beverage is paid for by Gestalt IT for the duration of NFD21. I am not required to produce this post, and it was not reviewed or edited by Gestalt IT or the sponsors of the event.

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