Technical Community Networking in the Middle East
Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in two consecutive but separate gatherings in the Middle East targeting the technical community of this region. The first was the second meeting of the Middle East Network Operators Group (MENOG), hosted by Q-tel and held in Doha, Qatar on 19-21 Nov. The other meeting was a technical training for ccTLD managers organized by ISOC and NSRC and hosted by Talal Abu-Ghazaleh College of Business in Amman, Jordan on 26-29 Nov. Although the audience of both events was different, the aim was to get the techies of this region together so they could exchange views, share knowledge, and learn from experts as well as from each other’s experiences. Ultimately, the aim is to see networks of expertise in the Middle East actively engaged in discussions and participating in work taking place at various international fora.
MENOG is a newly born group created in 2006 as the idea was discussed in one of the RIPE NCC regional meetings in the Middle East and got support by many participants then. I must say that the credit in establishing MENOG should go to RIPE NCC which through its regional meetings in the Middle East has initiated a platform for discussing Internet related themes, and MENOG was a product of such a platform. Special thanks should also go to folks like Fahad Al-Shirawi, Gaurab Raj Upadhaya, Paul Rendek and Philip Smith who have been exerting tremendous effort to have this initiative take off and fly. The second MENOG meeting (MENOG 2) was primarily focusing on Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). The former is a topic of interest for many operators and ISPs in the region though the actual setting up of IXPs is yet in its infancy. IPv6 on the other hand seems to be the topic of the year particularly in the world of Internet numbers, as there have been many discussions within the Internet community about the exhaustion of the unallocated pool of IPv4 addresses which is expected to happen within the next 2-4 years. Participants at MENOG 2 got the chance to hear from experts around the world who participated physically and remotely to share their experiences in IPv6.
The ccTLD training in Amman was one in a series of similar programs that ISOC has been organizing together with NSRC, and aiming specifically at ccTLD managers to learn about latest technologies and tools that help make their registry operations more stable and secure. The training was run over 4 days, and attended by 15 participants representing 8 ccTLDs (.ae, .eg, .jo. .lb, .ly, .sa, .sd, .tn), and provided presentations as well as hands-on exercises on various topics ranging from FreeBSD and DNS fundamentals, to DNSSEC and Cryptography. You may check the link http://ws.edu.isoc.org/workshops/2007/cctld-amman/ for more details on the program agenda and materials delivered during the training. Special thanks should go to the instructors Hervey Allen and Phil Regnauld who provided the major bulk of the training; Mirjam Kuehne who handled all administrative and logistical issues; Bilal Kisswani who facilitated all resources possible to make the training successful; and last but not least to Steve Huter who conducted the work from behind the scenes.
Collaboration within the Internet technical community has achieved enormous successes over the past three decades and is yet to deliver much more. I look forward to seeing members of the Middle East community more actively participating in discussion groups and technical forums, and more heavily involved in work being developed at the various fora.