[NgNOG-discuss] On this REN matter

Dewole Ajao dewole at forum.org.ng
Fri Jul 12 17:01:41 MSD 2013

Thanks to everyone that has contributed to the ongoing discussions about research and education networks. Without dwelling on the things that we have not done right, I'd like to quickly highlight a few things we can do to move forward.

i. Infrastructure has been (or is being) put in place to facilitate interconnection between some 27 institutions across the country. These 27 institutions are represented right here in one way or the other and I do not think any of their managements will prevent the techies and researchers from using the connections for communication and collaboration that they deem necessary (outside the blackbox videocon and whatever else has been included in the bundle). Please let us start making use of the connections and also monitoring them for the purpose of helping to optimize them where they are not up to par and the purpose of crying foul where they don't work at all. 

ii. I saw a presentation that says each of the 27 institutions in Phase 1 of the ngREN rollout will have a 150Mbps connection to a 10Gbps national backbone. I hereby encourage all of these pioneer institutions to show that they are ready to build a national REN by allowing neighbouring institutions to connect to the backbone through them rather than asking them to wait till it is their turn in Phase X. They can also share already existing resources. Such neighbourhood connections will be cheaper to deploy and manage since the distance will be shorter. I seriously doubt that such sharing will impact negatively on the "big sister" institution hosting the backbone connection. Network monitoring will help to make cases for increase in capacity for superhosts that quickly reach capacity; our goal after all is to collaborate more. For those with an Internet Exchange point ( http://www.ixp.net.ng/index.php/locations ) closer to them than a sister institution, peering at the IXPN will also give you a high speed connection to the national REN as I am aware that the ngREN Phase 1 will soon be peered at the IXPN as well. 

iii. Please let us correct the impression that RENs are for collaboration among the network administrators only. Techies are only a fraction of the people that will actually collaborate so we need to have a deliberate plan that brings undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers, lecturers, librarians, lab technicians, etc on board and gives them enough freedom to do what they want/need to do (rather than what we assume they need). We should get to understand their existing collaboration and try to help them out with technology.

iv. Content and services which are critical to the growth of a REN (not just the connections) have to live somewhere (typically on servers and endpoints). Some of our institutions have servers that are used by the local (on-campus) population. If the services are truly useful, more than a few people will be glad to have cheaper and faster access to them from other institutions. Consider the lecturers that have jobs in more than one institution then move to students who have friends and business partners in other institutions. Let the extension of existing services that are working be the start of our content buildup, please.

v. On a seemingly unrelated note, I think it's time for our institutions to start taking proper stock of the infrastructure they have on ground on and accounting for them internally. If a department has got five sets of satellite equipment that were "donated" x years ago all with expired Internet bandwidth subscriptions, why not tell the next "donor" that is coming with yet another satellite dish to kindly use the money to extend the subscription on one of the existing equipment in addition to what they already planned to give you? You can wash the dish and print their name alongside that of the original donor if they are afraid that they won't get the publicity they seek. Agree with me or not, it is because of ill-advised "donations" that some schools have multiple islands with internet connectivity but no intra-campus connectivity. In such a case, it's hard to imagine which part of the school will be connected to the REN and what amount of traffic will actually flow from the isolated islands. A related example is the school with multiple campuses/departments that encourages different sub-units to negotiate Internet bandwidth purchases of X Mbps when they can together negotiate a deal of X Mbps times 3 for the same amount of money. 

I know I've not captured all my thoughts here but I need to get back to work now. Have a good weekend!

Dewole Ajao
Operations Manager, Bandwidth Consortium

Talk to me about low cost high speed Internet connectivity anywhere in Nigeria.

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