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Network AF, Episode 2: Backbone engineering and interconnection with Nina Bargisen

Michelle Kincaid


In episode 2 of Network AF, Nina Bargisen joins Avi to discuss network interconnection and peering, her career in networking, and mentorship and diversity issues in network engineering.

Nina Bargisen

In episode 2 of Network AF, meet Nina Bargisen.

Nina has spent over two decades in network engineering and talks to podcast host Avi Freedman about her history in interconnection and peering.

She’s worked for companies like Netflix and TDC (formerly Tele Danmark Communications). Now Nina is Kentik’s director of GTM strategy focused on supporting service providers.

Nina joins Avi on the Network AF podcast to discuss:

  • Mentorship experiences
  • Ways the networking community can improve how it shares tribal knowledge with the infinitely diverse number of people joining the industry
  • And some of the lessons learned throughout the years

Nina’s entry into networking was non-standard. She began her career as a mathematician, going to university and doing research. After graduating she took time away from her professional career to focus on the work it takes to raise her children, and she talked about the process of going back to work outside her home in 1999.

Nina applied for an intro position for new graduates, explaining that she hadn’t used her degree and would love to be considered. She talks about how lucky she was to be accepted at the time, not knowing that the near future held the dot-com bubble.

Quickly learning new skills and responsibilities, Nina grew her experience in telephony and value-added services. Eventually this took her to the internet division of TDC where she worked on products for enterprises looking to host video advertising, shared hosting of video files, and eventually livestreaming services.

In fact, she and Avi discuss how one of her early projects occurred because of the September 11th terrorist attacks while working at TDC, and how she worked with a broadcasting client to stream news of the tragedy. The two also talk about Nina’s trajectory throughout TDC for nearly 14 years, becoming its peering coordinator after coming home from a trip to NANOG.

Nina also speaks to how the lessons she learned at TDC building out its infrastructure and backbone influenced her role at Netflix. She says the biggest difference between her ISP job and Netflix was that at Netflix they would peer with everyone except for very few people whose behavior meant it might mess up traffic.

When it comes to what’s hot and what’s hype, Nina is all about the new edge being hype. “For years everyone has been saying it is all slideware. 5G is going to be another 4G. But it looks like people are putting the computer closer to the edge, and people think content will come to the edge.” She doubts video on-demand will come to the edge, but livestreaming probably will, explaining that on-demand doesn’t have enough file storage space.

She also thinks non-latency sensitive services are going to stay relatively central, but still not totally because it’s decentralized in the cloud. Real-time is going to be on the edge, she thinks. And overall, Nina is optimistic about the edge because of how much the cloud has changed the internet.

Avi and Nina also discuss Nina’s advice for those who want to enter the internet and infrastructure world, early career development, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in network engineering.

Nina’s parting words are to try to be welcoming if people seem like they might want to talk, and to be cognizant of making those conversations happen online and offline. “Everyone who is curious about how s#!* works should be told. Feed those who are curious.”

Watch and listen to the episode here, or check out some of the highlights below. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify so you never miss an episode!

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