RIPE NCC Membership Survey 2002
The RIPE NCC commissioned KPMG to carry out a members and stakeholders survey on its behalf from 29 August 2002 until 31 October 2002.
The aim of the 2002 survey was to seek comments from members and stakeholders on two separate but related issues:
- views on the current services offered
- views on the services that should be offered and how this might affect issues such as its operating model, charging scheme and relationship with the membership and other bodies.
KPMG noted limited opposition to the survey and found that over 95% of participants were "extremely positive" on this initiative by the RIPE NCC.
The survey included e-mailed responses and face-to-face meetings. There were a total of 285 respondents of members and stakeholders. All were assured strict confidentiality of their responses. A synopsis follows:
It was noted that there is a considerable diversity of interests and needs to be satisfied. This diversity carries with it cost implications and the membership, through open debate, should decide where change in the organisation (i.e. in structure, operation, services) should be implemented.
A range of issues were raised that were critical of RIPE NCC's performance. However, these were made in the spirit that RIPE is a family and an important institution where members have been given an opportunity to state their views for the ultimate good. There was also high praise for the organisation's technical innovation.
This was coupled with comments such as "there are massive global changes taking place impacting the RIPE NCC's operations" and "when you actually eyeball a RIPE NCC staff member they are, without exception, friendly people". Acknowledging that RIPE and the RIPE NCC had a difficult task in a rapidly changing technical and commercial environment, "it must be remembered that when RIPE was started, there was no model to copy and they had to deal with a rapidly growing demand."
The respondents' view was that the RIPE NCC should be primarily a registry and any additional services should have a clear relevance to the primary mission, be cost effective and should not be in competition with its members.
Respondents rated Registration Services, Member Tools and Training Courses as the top three most important services provided. A majority of respondents cited IP allocations and AS assignments, including reverse delegation and routing as the most crucial within these.
Training was repeatedly noted as a valued service. Almost all respondents were aware of training programs that were highly regarded by a large majority. Requests were noted for more training in new topics and at advanced levels.
Though a large number indicated they were satisfied on service quality and timeliness, a varied range of aspects needing improvement was noted, such as web site documentation and navigation, language barriers, report presentation, and explanation of services.
While a number of new activities were suggested, many respondents indicated that:
- no service expansion was sought
- new services were not appropriate
- existing services should be promoted before new services were considered
Suggestions for new services included:
- a more active role in providing a technical perspective to European governments
- independent review of service quality
- better financial management of projects
- monthly summary of changes in documents
The most consistent reason members did not use existing services was the inability to understand the benefit of certain services. Other reasons included "no current IPv6 infrastructure"; "services were not relevant to current needs"; and "alternative services were more attractive".
There was widespread support for the decision making process by consensus among respondents. It was acknowledged that RIPE and the RIPE NCC had a difficult task in operating in a rapidly changing technical and commercial environment. This was complicated further by the need to manage change and introduce new ideas across significant geographic, linguistic and legal barriers.
Most respondents felt that the current structure allowed them to adequately express their views but also believed that more could be done by the RIPE NCC to encourage and seek input.
Regarding RIPE Meetings, almost all respondents had attended at least one meeting but the majority did not anticipate future attendance unless the meeting was in their immediate geographic location and/or there was a topic of discussion that was of immediate relevance to the operating needs of their organisation.
Concerns with regard to RIPE Meetings included:
- attendance is mainly based on proximity and cost
- WG Chairs require facilitation skills as well as technical knowledge
- too many overlapping sessions to obtain real benefit
- meetings existence and content not well known
The most frequent suggestion to encourage member attendance was to try and increase reach and participation by using live web casts, audio conferencing and other technologies.
Among comments given for input to the RIPE NCC, respondents noted:
- that services were unduly bureaucratic and time consuming
- that newcomers perceived WGs and mailing lists as for "old timers" who knew each other
- that there was a need for discussion groups to provide clear web summaries for non-participants
- a private forum for members/LIRs was needed
In external relationships, members noted that a more proactive relationship with governments and other agencies was necessary. This included:
- a need for more inter-RIR collaboration
- being proactive to ensure governments have a balanced picture
- facilitating governments' plans for Internet expansion
Observations noted consistently on the RIPE NCC included:
- members of the Internet community need a well-functioning RIPE NCC
- the RIPE NCC's fees are a relatively small cost in members' businesses but they still want high service standards and quick response times
- while the main function should continue to be address allocation and management, the RIPE NCC should continue to have some involvement in other issues
- any other issues/services should be related and relevant to members' businesses
- while initial R & D is acceptable there should not be ongoing subsidisation
There was unanimous support for the RIPE NCC to seek views on both service standards and new services from the membership. The top three means of seeking input included:
- proactively requesting feedback by e-mail
The majority of respondents also believed that the RIPE NCC should provide technological leadership in:
- IPv6 policy, distribution and training
- uses in multicasting, mobile IP wireless and multimedia networks
- best practice deployment rather than development
- telecommunications areas that impact the membership
Regarding the RIPE NCC's future structure and operations, respondents noted that the RIPE NCC had functioned successfully while the environment in which it operated had changed significantly. However, it was believed that the RIPE NCC as a service organisation needed to have a greater customer service focus. Suggestions included:
- removing the bias towards technical issues
- assigning a RIPE NCC person to each country or operator
- having policy established before process