Managing Virtual Offices and Remote Workers

Report on ARIN “COVID-19 and the Caribbean Internet” Webinar Series


By the start of the second quarter of 2020, public health restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic triggered sweeping restrictions on mass gatherings, the shutting of schools, business and government offices, an unprecedented exodus to work-from-home arrangements, and an equally unprecedented demand for online services. Network operators were inundated with requests to facilitate a rapid transition to support remote workers and move services online. Network autonomy, access policy, cloud infrastructure, and cybersecurity all became top priority concerns for organizations big and small. These concerns were also top priority for ARIN and CaribNOG and informed the first topic covered in the webinar series: Managing Virtual Offices and Remote Workers.

The topic, Managing Virtual Offices and Remote Workers was covered over two sessions and provided IT managers, network administrators and IT support teams with practical solutions for securing, optimising and scaling network infrastructure. The sessions, moderated by Bevil Wooding, highlighted strategies, policies, tools and techniques used by network operators to facilitate remote work.

ARIN, represented by John Sweeting and Mark Kosters, shared its experience in managing a remote work environment. The team explained how that experience prepared the organization to rapidly adapt to the work-from-home requirements of the pandemic.

Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer at ARIN, shared his personal tips, tools and techniques for remote workers. He shared how the ARIN engineering team had an important advantage in responding to the pandemic. “We already had policies, devices and tools for remote work and most importantly, lots of practice over the years. We knew what we needed to focus on from our past experiences dealing with business continuity during large snowstorms. Management team developed a multi-phased approach and our IT staff built out new VPN servers to handle the entire office” he shared.

John Sweeting, Chief Customer Officer at ARIN, highlighted the importance of network autonomy: “Network autonomy means having your own ASN and IP addresses to enable quick provision of new connectivity without relying on your current provider. It means having Autonomous System Numbers, or ASNs, and IP addresses to enable connectivity to peers and at Internet exchange points,” he said.

Sweeting encouraged network operators to cover all the bases, including backup power, access equipment, work environment comfort and safety, IT support and access to appropriate tools.

Other presenters in the session included two members of the CaribNOG executive team, Stephen Lee, Chief Executive of Arkitechs, an IT services company and Brent McIntosh, an independent network infrastructure consultant.

The webinar series, titled “COVID-19 and the Caribbean Internet,” explored the evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in four key areas—infrastructure, security, access policy, and network service delivery best practices. The series comprised of 10 weekly sessions, conducted from 9 April to 12 June 2020.

The initiative is spearheaded by ARIN and CaribNOG, in collaboration with  the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Registry (LACNIC), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).