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RIPE 72 Academic & NREN Meeting Minutes

Monday 23 May 2016, 17:30 -18:30, Copenhagen, Denmark

Host: Maria Häll, Executive Board Member, RIPE NCC
Attendees: 28 academics and NREN representatives
Minutes: Gergana Petrova

Feedback from the last meeting

Maria summarised the discussions from the first academic meeting, which took place during RIPE 71 in Bucharest.

The RIPE community was born out of cooperation and collaboration between NRENs, researchers and academics, however they had not been so noticeable in recent years. Reasons for the latter were the fact that they had plenty of legacy space, so they were not much affected by the exhaustion of the IPv4 pool, and the fact that commercial organisations had more money and people to send to meetings. The meeting concluded that NRENs and academics needed to stay involved in the RIPE community, so that they were aware of policies that might threaten them.

The meeting at RIPE 71 also discussed RACI, and several suggestions to improve the initiative. Some of these suggestions, such as giving applicants feedback on why they were or weren't selected and following up with past attendees were being implemented. Other suggestions, such as having an external jury and offerring a prize to attract RACI participants will be reviewed at a later stage of the initiative.

Academics and NRENs at RIPE Meetings

Academics and NRENs were, on average, 10% of meeting attendees for the past seven RIPE Meetings. Even though the numbers were increasing in absolute values, the percentage was stagnant or slightly decreasing. An explanation could be that the attendees from other industries increased faster than that of academia and NRENs. The question was asked what academics could do to bring more people to RIPE Meetings.

The room discussed that NREN operators were not necessarily NREN researchers. In addition, even though RIPE NCC had a lot of university members, these contact people were not the right people to talk to, as they were not the ones doing research.

Some mailing lists were suggested to reach academics – such as the Global Internet Governance Academic Network (Giganet) and the Non Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) at ICANN.

RACI and Internet Days

The RACI program was developing well. Word of mouth was one of the best ways to reach potential applicants. Preference should be given to applicants who hadn't presented as part of RACI before.

A new initiative of the RIPE NCC Dubai office was presented – hosting “Internet Days” for academia, where they introduced various Internet issues on a basic level. The first “Internet Day” was hosted in Jordan. Next they are planning an academic road trip to the top three major cities in Saudi Arabia.

Data and measurements

The RIPE NCC provides a lot of data. Emile urged researchers that if they were interested in something that the RIPE NCC was not yet providing, to get in touch with him at [email protected].

Some participants observed that since the Internet was relocating to the mobile world academics needed more measurements there.

In addition, some academics were interested in having RIPE NCC's code for measurements. They could then tweak it and use it themselves.

One participant explained that he had tried to encourage teachers to use data from RIPE Atlas probes, however the overwhelming amount of data made it too difficult. There was a need for an easy tool to give to a teacher, who wanted less data.

The question was raised whether RIPE NCC supplied the right data to university and postdoc students. Instead of trying to push programs, the RIPE NCC should ask teachers what data they wanted and then supply it.

NRENs were the people with operational experience. Students were not aware where to get knowledge and data on operations.

The next generation of researchers

A participant remarked that in her experience, younger students seemed to be much more interested in computer science than university students. There was a lot of promise if academics engaged with potential students at an early stage.

One attendee suggested targeting political students and not just the computer students. There was discussion on this. There were several political science representatives at the meeting, who believed that RIPE and the RIPE Meetings were known amongst political science students.

The relationship between academics and NRENs

A couple of months ago was the first academic meeting in Ireland. The meeting was very successful, although there was a disconnect between researchers and the more technical staff. NRENs were not as good a liaison with researchers as they had been 10 years ago. Universities believed NRENs were offering a commoditised service. University staff didn't know what NRENs could do for the academics. Only a subset of researchers with operational needs were connected with NRENs. A suggestion was made for the RIPE NCC to organise meetings that bridged the gap between industry and research. During these meetings, researchers could get feedback from vendors and industry to see if their research was valuable.

A second problem was that RIPE meetings were not the most appropriate place to present most network research. Some was too theoretical or too high level. Researchers who could present on a topic that was relevant for the RIPE Meeting were difficult to find.

The plenaries at RIPE Meetings had become more about commercial networks. ICANN meetings were also focusing on legal, rather than technical matters. A solution could be to do a small technical meeting.

One participant added that some of the academic presentations were much too academic, and very dense to read through. Academics were not as used to compiling engaging to-the-point presentations. The PC or other academics could advise and help RACI participants improve their presentations.

Research divide

Research in Western Europe was already very strong. RIPE NCC got very few high quality presentations from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. An increase in collaboration could bridge this gap.