[NANOG-announce] The Evolution of NANOG

Dear members of the NANOG community,

Since its inception in 1994, the North American Network Operators
Group (NANOG) has had its meetings and activities organized under the
auspices of Merit, providing an incredible service to the North
American region, and in fact, to the global Internet engineering
community. The value of this work can not be easily overstated – it
is likely that, absent Merit’s involvement, the pace of global
Internet development would have significantly slowed and that the high
levels of Internet performance that we all enjoy today would not have
come to pass.

Several periods of evolution have marked the Merit/NANOG
relationship. The most significant inflections have been the sharp
growth in NANOG attendance in the late 1990s, the increasing
importance of the NANOG mailing list as a method of inter-carrier
communication, the utilization of NANOG meetings as a conduit of
communications between major government entities and the
Internetworking community, and the 2004-2005 Charter Process where
NANOG took a significant step towards self-governance while remaining
a Merit activity.

Through the successive evolutions, Merit has stayed loyal to the
ideals of NANOG, providing staff to administer conferences; administer
servers to host presentations, mailing lists, and archives from the
early days of the Internet; funds to pay for all of NANOG’s
activities; and, equally as important, entering into contract
obligations on NANOG’s behalf for meeting venue hotels, at times
taking on significant contract liability. Since the beginning of this
relationship, one constant has been the gratitude of NANOG’s
membership and governance communities towards Merit for their
dedication, hard work and financial commitment.

Starting from the ratification of the 2005 NANOG Charter, the
membership of NANOG has worked hard to establish self-governance
institutions including our Steering Committee, Program Committee,
Communications Committee, and Marketing Working Group. These
institutions have acquired experience and resilience over the past
five years and matured to the point of self-governance.

The Steering Committee believes the time has come for NANOG to
continue its natural evolution toward an independent organization. We
are therefore beginning the process of creating a non-profit, tax-
exempt entity that will produce NANOG conferences, administer the
NANOG mailing list, and expand our educational mission. A re-
structuring of the NANOG/Merit
relationship allows each organization to focus on the direct needs of
its respective constituency.

This effort is still in the preliminary stages. Our intention is to
work jointly with Merit to devise a transition plan and a transition
timeline before NANOG 49 in June of this year. This transition will
be gradual and designed to ensure a seamless handover of
responsibility to the new entity, minimizing changes seen by the
community as a whole. The governance and committee structure will be
left largely intact, with our current charter converted into a set of
governing bylaws. We expect to hold a community vote to ratify the
new bylaws and structure during the annual October election.

We expect there will be many questions and concerns raised regarding
this process, and suggest that the nanog-futures mailing list is the
appropriate venue for discussion. (See https://mailman.nanog.org/mailman/listinfo/nanog-futures
  for subscription information.) We also encourage you to share
reactions directly with the Steering Committee. In the next few days,
the Communications Committee will create and post a Frequently Asked
Questions page. We will also hold an extended community meeting
during NANOG 49 to review progress and discuss the transition.

One thing that won’t change throughout the course of this next
evolution is the gratitude of the NANOG membership for the hard work
and support that the Merit board, staff, and member institutions have
provided to us over the course of the last 16 years.

For the NANOG leadership,

  Steve Feldman (Steering Committee chair)
  Patrick W. Gilmore (SC member)
  Sylvie LaPerrière (SC member)
  Joe Provo (SC member)
  Robert Seastrom (SC member)
  Duane Wessels (SC member)
  David Meyer (Program Committee chair)
  Tom Daly (PC vice chair)