For some time there have been extensive discussions, both in person and
via email, concerning the future of NANOG. A dedicated group of
individuals (including many of you) has assembled a detailed proposal
for NANOG's evolution, a proposal which lays out a number of important
ideas. Merit staff are very grateful for the well-informed and
constructive work put forth by the NANOG community.
We at Merit are in agreement with most of the proposed changes, although
there are a few points which we feel require further discussion. In
this message I would like to outline Merit's reaction to these proposals
and propose some next steps for discussion via email and at the next
NANOG meeting in Seattle. As you will see below, our intention is to
move forward with these changes over the summer.
The first change you will see is one of financial transparency.
Beginning with the Seattle meeting, Merit will provide an update on
NANOG finances and operations at each meeting. Look for this
presentation at every future NANOG meeting; it will take place during
the Sunday Special Community Meeting in Seattle. Information will also
be posted on nanog.org.
We support the formation of a Steering Committee which will provide
overall guidance for NANOG operations, appoint the Program Committee,
and appoint the mailing list administrator panel. The Steering
Committee would consist of six members elected by the NANOG community
and one appointed by Merit. We propose that an election process be
developed and that the first Steering Committee be elected during the
summer of 2005, to begin serving by the Fall NANOG meeting.
We support the formation of a Program Committee appointed by the
Steering Committee. Our experience leads us to believe that a larger
committee will be better able to handle the heavy workload, so we
suggest that the Program Committee consist of 16 members (plus one
member appointed by Merit).
A smooth transition from the current committee to a new one is critical
to ensure the success of upcoming meetings. We propose that the current
Program Committee continue as presently constituted through the Fall
NANOG meeting (except that the three open positions would be filled
through appointment by the current committee after an open nomination
process). This will allow time for the Steering Committee to be elected
and to appoint a new Program Committee.
In order to provide continuity and preserve institutional memory of the
programming process, half (or more, at the discretion of the Steering
Committee) of the members of the first reconstituted Program Committee
would be selected from among those current Program Committee members
willing to continue service, and the remainder would be new appointments
from the community at large. We propose that Steve Feldman continue his
capable leadership as Program Committee chair for the first year to help
the new committee get established.
We recommend that a member of the Steering Committee serve ex officio on
the Program Committee, and that the chair of the Program Committee serve
ex officio on the Steering Committee. These liaison roles will help
ensure that the activities of the two groups are coordinated.
We also support the change to mailing list administration, a change
already partially implemented. We propose three panel members appointed
by the Steering Committee and one appointed by Merit.
We seek further discussion on the subject of membership. We at Merit
believe that NANOG's success is due in no small part to its informality,
an informality which mirrors other technical activities related to the
Internet. We believe that addition of a paid membership category will
dilute the influence of those who make the effort and take the time to
participate in NANOG's main activity, the meetings. We propose that
eligibility to vote in NANOG elections be determined solely by
registration for NANOG meetings. We look forward to discussing this
question in Seattle.
Finally, although NANOG is a community of professionals, it is also a
Merit business activity and not a separate organization. Merit accepts
the risks, both financial and otherwise, created by NANOG. Merit staff
are responsible first to Merit's Board of Directors for these financial
and risk issues. In order to exercise our responsibility to our Board
we must retain final authority over NANOG operations and finances,
including representing NANOG to other organizations, negotiating and
executing agreements with vendors, and selecting hosts and sites. We do
not expect this to be a problem in practice, however, as we intend to
work with the new Steering Committee and Program Committee on the
presumption that the members of the NANOG community know best what they
need from NANOG. We are confident that the goals of community guidance
and transparency can be achieved without abrogating our responsibility
to Merit's Board.
You can read a draft of a proposed new NANOG Charter and action plan at
http://www.nanog.org/evolution.html. You will also find a link to the
most recent NANOG-reform draft bylaws document for reference. We have
adopted considerable language from that document, into which so much
effort was put. We thank those who provided that foundation and have
participated in the discussion so far, and we encourage everyone to
participate in the continuing evolution of NANOG. We are excited about
moving NANOG into its future.
See you at the NANOG Futures session in Seattle on Tuesday, 17 May.