NOGs: Fostering operational excellence in the region

By on 22 Feb 2023

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Attendees at the last in-person NOG BoF at APRICOT 2020.

The pandemic changed the way we live and work, and the same is true for Network Operators Groups (NOGs). At the beginning of COVID-19, NOG participation dropped off, but with the widespread adoption of virtual meetings, NOGs became more active, once again providing a forum for network operators to interact, share knowledge, and improve operational capabilities throughout the region.

Established by volunteers who see the benefits of non-competitive collaboration, NOGs vary in purpose depending on local demands. Still, all share a common objective to enhance network operations through activities such as training technical personnel, sharing knowledge, discussion, and building relationships among participants.

The first ever NOG was NANOG in North America; APRICOT and JANOG followed shortly after and many others have since been established in the Asia Pacific region by volunteers upon seeing the successes of other NOGs. While staying up to date with global technical developments are essential for Internet operations, local situations are equally important. For example, sharing information on data centres and circuit stability, available types of equipment, user usage trends, regulations, and training local engineers, is vital.

JANOG was established in 1997 in Japan shortly after NANOG. JANOG was necessary due to the language barrier — there needed to be a forum where we could discuss local-specific operational topics in Japanese. This need for localization can be seen across the Asia Pacific — an active NOG helps improve operational capabilities locally, and ultimately throughout the region.

Several elements are necessary for a NOG’s success, such as local key operators’ participation in the activities with engaging talks and facilitating frank discussions. While the intent of each NOG is similar, each NOG operator organizes its community in its own way. At Network Operator Birds-of-a-Feather (NOG BoF) meetings, these NOG operators bring their experiences and knowledge of their respective operations and exchange information to help build a more active community. In the past, topics have included how to increase active participation, the state of support from local communities, and discussions on reaching the next generation of NOG participants. NOG BoFs are also a valuable resource for those working hard to start their NOG in the future.

Since 2020, thanks to hybrid working, many NOGs have remained active via virtual meetings and the quality of virtual NOGs has only improved with each meeting. Of course, holding a virtual meeting requires different management, and while many of us have gained experience in remote presentations and continued to share our own experiences at virtual NOG BoFs, nothing can replace the more personal benefits of face-to-face meetings.

APRICOT 2023 will host the NOG Operators BoF, in person, for the first time in three years. With the face-to-face meeting, we’ll see more active interactions and more beneficial casual discussions. The purpose of this BoF is for NOG organizers to share knowledge, and experience, and work together to improve the NOG landscape throughout the region.

The NOG Organisers BoF will be held in the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippines Plaza Manila on Wednesday, 1 March 2023 from 18:00 to 19:00 (UTC +8).

See you at APRICOT 2023!

Yoshinobu ‘Maz’ Matsuzaki is a Senior Engineer for Internet Initiative Japan Inc. with expertise in network design, network operation, and network security. Through his regular participation in various community meetings and workshops as a speaker and instructor, Maz has contributed to the stable Internet operation in the Asia Pacific region.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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