The 9th of March marked another important day in the history of the Thai Internet community with the founding of the country’s first network operators’ group, THNOG, or Thai Network Operators’ Group. Initially a group of 20 individual volunteers (network operators from private and public sector, network registry, network security group and universities), THNOG’s main goal is to promote technical excellence in the network engineering field through local capacity building. THNOG targets network operators, Internet service providers, content developer, network registry, and security professionals.
NOGs are one of the most important Internet resources and actors within the Internet ecosystem. They are informal group of individual network engineers usually affiliated with network operators, Internet exchange points, Internet registries, data centers, and regulators. To date, there are on record approximately between 40 NOGs worldwide, 15 of them in the Asia-Pacific region. We have also observed a significant resurgence of interest especially in developing countries within the APAC region to form new NOGs as well as revive dormant ones, for instance BDNOG, IDNOG and PHNOG
First and foremost, NOGs play a very critical role in ensuring the stability, operational health and robustness of the Internet infrastructure and its critical underlying assets. NOGs also address local technical capacity building needs and are considered frontline Internet champions. It is also important to note that vibrant and strong NOGs tend to be good proxies for identifing thriving Internet ecosystem in the long term. Members of NOGs openly cooperate and collaborate with one another by voluntarily sharing their experiences and knowledge. Therefore, NOGs are commonly known to provide a professional grouping for network engineers who can meet their peers in a social as well as professional context. More advanced NOGs, can sometimes influence good public policy development in the country through its role as a technical authority.
In the case of THNOG, its key objectives includes:
· Addressing a sustainable and long term capacity building need for its community, including raising the profile of network engineers as a professional and career choice
· Provide a common peering platform for members to collaborate in areas of common interest (research, best practices, tutorials, special initiatives, technical excellence, conferences)
· To connect with other NOGs and leverage their experiences and best practices
In the case of THNOG, the importance of creating and ensuring an ample supply of talents in the country as well as contributing to the long term capacity building (life long learning) for the community has been highlighted as a critical mission. This is due to growing concerns among the Thai Internet community on the lack of experienced and qualified network engineers in the market, as a result of engineers moving to other industries offering a more lucrative remuneration and a less stressful work environment, such as banking and finance. In addition, a declining trend of new graduates in the field who choose to work in other fields not related to their discipline has also raised further concerns for the industry.
In conclusion, the growing interest in NOGs in the APAC region is a positive signal of the growing understanding of the critical role local NOGs can play in strategically spearheading the development of the Internet in their countries, as well as in strengthening the immediate community it serves and the broader group of stakeholders it potential can engage with.