At last year’s AGM, Chris set a challenge for everyone to come up with ideas for investing the Society’s funds into some new initiatives. Some offered ideas straight away, with one particular idea really standing out – an educational ISP. In a nutshell, this project will create an environment where you can be shown a national New Zealand network working, be a customer of this network, go in there, change it, figure out how it works, break it, fix it and most importantly, LEARN! The educational ISP will also allow engineers to test out new technologies and features such as EVPN, segment routing, QoS and more. In the interest of the day to day running of it, we’ve thought about supplying the environment to educational institutions as a learning tool and providing guidance to them through a curriculum.
This idea is based on current issues with NZ network engineers: the lack of skill, an appropriate way of learning these important skills, learning the old ways of doing things to ensure engineers aren’t solely relying on automated systems and gender diversity. With the wide usage of the Internet, residential ISPs are no longer a feasible learning ground. In the good old days, breaking Paradise Net, Max Net, or Rural Link was the way engineers learned, and in this day in age, breaking a network and wiping people offline is a big no-no! There is also the issue of current engineers holding on to their jobs, preventing new blood from coming in, but one thing at a time – let’s start with educating the next generation!
As NZIX is in quite a neutral position between large and small industry players, we felt it was a good opportunity to build something that could neutrally benefit everyone. To achieve this vision, we’ve done a bit of homework and thought that we could use existing relationships to get cheap/free transit and IX services (we have already received some offers) and enable learners to get a Chorus connection into an NZIX lab at cost, although we are aware that we do not want to undercut our current members in a commercial sense. We’ve tossed around the idea of members needing to sponsor the person in order to access the ISP, but there are a few more ideas that we can explore in this space. We’ve started to chat with various vendors to provide switches/routers/BNGs and provide AAA containers, providing bandwidth (we’ve had some success for this one already), support, and licenses for hardware at no to low costs.
We are happy to report that we received a good amount of positive feedback at the NOG, with more offers of support from various organisations. We look forward to sharing more information with you all at the AGM.