MyNOG: Our journey so far and a look into the future

By on 12 Jan 2018

Categories: Community, Development

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MyNOG co-founders Kanagaraj Krishna (left) and CJ Ooi (right).

The story of the Malaysia Network Operators Group (MyNOG) began several years ago, when an acquaintance from APNIC approached a group of us with a suggestion on starting a NOG movement within the South East Asia region, to complement the annual APRICOT conferences.

At the time, Internet in the region was still in its infancy and huge disparities existed among the economies in terms of infrastructure, capacity development, and culture. As such, we felt that starting small by establishing economy-based NOGs would be a better way to start the NOG movement in the region as it could be tailored to fit each economy’s needs.

A few years lapsed until a group of peace-loving hippies — correction, a group of volunteers consisting of fellow network operators in Malaysia — organized the first MyNOG event in 2012.

The premise of MyNOG is to break down the high walls within the local network operator community and remind them that the Internet is part of a collaborative ecosystem. Like other NOGs, its objective is to provide a forum to discuss operational issues and technologies of interest among the network operators, minus the suits and ties.

MyIX MyNOG Conference 2017

This year, the MyNOG committee decided to collaborate with MyIX (Malaysia Internet Exchange) to hold our first joint event — MyIX MyNOG Conference 2017—  which was held on 26 October 2017. The decision was an effort to extend our reach and engagement with the industry.

The program consisted of a range of presentations surrounding cybersecurity, the usual infrastructure management and operation domains, and digital technology (blockchain). The former topic reflects the recent proliferation of cyber attacks globally and the increasing concern among the community at large. As for the latter, the program organizing committee felt that we should look to expand the content to be more comprehensive and reflective of the interconnected world of infrastructure and its enabling technologies.

Over 230 registered participants attended the one-day event, which is the highest of all six MyNOG events.

Greater participation

After five years and six events, we’ve been overwhelmed by the growth in the number of people attending and participating in events and discussion groups. That said, we recognize that MyNOG is still a work in progress.

There is always this lingering question of whether we are restricting our target audience with a narrow definition of the word ‘network operators’. It’s clear where the majority of the audience at our events are from: telcos, vendors and medium-to-large Internet Service Providers — even though the content covered is relevant to a wider audience.

In an effort to broaden MyNOG’s audience and make it a more inclusive platform, the committee has begun a ‘Greater Participation’ initiative. Below are some of the current and future strategies:

  • MyNOG has had a good relationship with regional NOGs since its inception. To strengthen these ties, we recently started allocating complimentary seats to NOG committee members within South East Asia.
  • The collaboration of industry and the education sector is becoming critical in ensuring Malaysia produces competent and well-rounded graduates. There are already many ongoing initiatives to strengthen these collaborative efforts, with industry movers-and-shakers such as Google and Microsoft proactively engaging the education sector. The MyNOG committee feels strongly that there is a gap and we can position ourselves as a vendor-neutral platform. A few years back, we started conducting small-scale workshops in collaboration with universities, using their facilities and allocating complimentary seats to educators/professors as an awareness campaign. This year we saw an increase in participation, where 10% to 15% of the registered participants were from that sector, including representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education.
  • From the industry perspective, we need to put in more effort towards engaging a wider audience who can benefit from this platform. This would include, but is not limited to, small-to-medium entities (SME/SMB) and startups. As an example, for the recently concluded MyIX MyNOG Conference 2017, apart from pursuing collaborations with industry bodies such as MyIX, we also made an effort to distribute complimentary seats via APNIC, targeting its lower-tier Members (very small, small and medium). In the future, we plan to invest more in engaging policymakers, regulators and enablers (incubators, accelerators) to make it inclusive and extend our reach into the bigger ecosystem.

We’re hopeful that this initiative will not only broaden and strengthen MyNOG’s community but also the greater ICT industry in Malaysia as we work together to support the nation’s push towards higher broadband penetration and a digital economy.

Likewise, we hope that it will also strengthen our ties with our neighbouring NOGs and bring us a step closer to realizing a South East Asia NOG.

Kanagaraj Krishna is MyNOG co-founder and content curator.

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