NOGs: The Vehicle for Technical Collaboration in LAC

28/04/2022

By Carlos Martínez and Israel Rosas

According to the CIDR Report for April 2022, the Internet comprises just over 73 thousand Autonomous Systems. These networks are deployed and maintained by network operators, who share the responsibility for the proper operation of the Internet.

Regardless of the nature and size of the organization that deploys and maintains each of these networks, there are spaces where their operators can meet, share information, problem solve, and collaboratively build knowledge. These groups are known as Network Operators’ Groups or NOGs.

There are local and regional NOGs in various parts of the world. Regardless of their location, behind each NOG is a sense of community that is essential to foster collaboration and at the same time recognize the diversity of environments where network operators do their work. For example, facing the challenges related to the reflection and interference of radio signals that travel over saltwater spills is very different from needing solutions to deal with equipment overheating in warm and dry environments.

The first step in driving a new NOG is the germinal idea of creating a community. Interactions will then occur naturally through the channel that best suits the needs of its members. In some NOGs, interactions occur mostly through mailing lists and virtual or face-to-face meetings. In others such as NOG Bolivia or NOG Costa Rica, people also interact via instant messaging groups, while LACNOG has decided to explore the use of a Discord server to broaden the spectrum of available communication channels.

What has become clear is that, regardless of the communication mechanism used by their members, NOGs have consolidated themselves as ideal spaces for a wide range of activities. At a NOG, people can discuss topics of common interest, problem solve together, find training opportunities, or invite speakers from other organizations in the ecosystem to share their knowledge. Some groups are already discussing fresh issues, such as the automation of network operations.

For people interested in forming a new NOG or strengthening an existing one, the best option is to approach organizations such as LACNOG, LACNIC or the Internet Society. Another option is to seek guidance and ideas from others who have traveled the same path. In our experience, there are always people willing to share advice.