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Deploy360 11 April 2016

AfBCOP Workshop – a huge leap forward for the African BCOP initiative

By Jan Žorž Operational Engagement Programme Manager

The first dedicated AfBCOP workshop was held on 29-30 March 2016 at the PanAfric Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together leading networking experts from commercial, academic and public sectors in order to discuss best practices. The workshop was organised and sponsorship by TESPOK, the Kenyan association of Technology Service Providers, and involved Jan Žorž, the Internet Society’s Operational Engagement Programme Manager.

Jan Zorz training engineers at AfBCOP workshop

The goals of the workshop were to start documenting best current operational practices (known as BCOPs) on how build and run networks, how to implement new protocols and technologies, and how to manage security.  The aim being to ensure that new network and systems engineers have trusted and peer reviewed documentation on how to make the Internet a better place.

AfBCOP system admin group discussion

The two day event was opened by Fiona Tsonga, TESPOK’s Chief Executive Officer and Jan, who provided an overview of what the BCOP initiative is about, along with what’s happening in other regions. The 30 or so participants from leading networking organisations including KENIC, Liquid telecom and Plessey among others, then divided into five different groups in order to come up with BCOP drafts corresponding with their areas of interest and expertise.

The BCOP documents that made it to the BCOP-KE list are as follows:

1. Management group

1.1 Best Current Operating Procedures for Fraud Information Sharing

Summary: There’s a long history of resellers and other parties committing substantial amounts of fraud through the theft of bandwidth and other mechanisms, as well as employees working with fraudulent resellers/customers to the detriment of their legitimate employers. This document defines the principles by which Internet Service Providers and operators in Kenya share details of fraudulent parties as they come to light, in order to create an industry wide black list of organisations and former employees.

1.2 Best Current Operating Procedures for Fiber optic building and maintenance best practices

Summary: Operators who wish to deploy new fibre or maintain existing fibre are often not conversant with existing fibre routes. This occasionally results in unprecedented fiber cuts to other operators as they deploy and maintain their fibre, especially as different operators can have different depth specifications. In addition, different service providers often lease the same fibre infrastructure, but there may be no existing standards in place to allow for the terminating of active elements to ensure optimal operation. This document will allow for the sharing of fiber quality, fibre routing and civil works specifications.

1.3 Best Current Operation Procedures for Network Infrastructure Sharing

Summary: Over the last 10 years there have been several players who have installed network infrastructure in different parts of the country which has excess capacity that is currently under utilised. This has led to duplication of infrastructure and maintenance which results in higher cost of service provision, although there have been attempts to share infrastructure by provisioning additional spare ducts, fibre capacity swaps, tower sharing and co-location. This document provides guidelines of how service providers can best share their infrastructure.

1.4 Best Current Operating Procedures for Peering Policy best practices

Summary: Peering has always been a divisive issue that creates blurred lines between political, commercial and technical arenas. Irrespective of this, there are still basic principles that can be  applied to create areas of common understanding in order to ease the process of peering. This document attempts to articulate these basic principles.

Participants following closely the training

2. Research group

2.1 Best Current Operation Procedure for Adoption of research findings and innovations from academic institutions by the industry

Summary: Collaboration between universities and industry has the potential to expand the relevance of research carried out in public institutions, foster the commercialisation of R&D outcomes, and increase the mobility of labour between public and private sectors. Recently on the initiative of policy makers, many universities developed a ‘third mission’ by fostering links with knowledge users and facilitating technology transfer. This documents seeks to outline in what research areas these linkages can be best established.

3. Network Administration group

3.1 Best Current Operating Procedures for Throughput Testing

Summary: This documents looks to document the best practices operators can use to test circuit throughput.

4. System Administration group

4.1 Best Current Operating Procedures for Email Services

Summary: This document seeks to document best practice for setting up e-mail services on computers and mobile devices.

4.2 Best Current Operating Procedures for DNS

Summary: The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource participating in the Internet. The DNS translates meaningful domain names to the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices globally. Network administrators within an organization are responsible for allocating, registering and maintaining its domain names, and this document details how these services are provided under agreed terms and conditions.

5. Security group

5.1 Best Current Operating Procedures for Logging and Monitoring

Summary: This document outlines a number of current best practices pertaining to security logging and monitoring, based on international standards and challenges faced by local analysts and system administrators.

Gilbert Sonoiya from TESPOK presenting his draft document on network system admin

Gilbert Sonoiya from TESPOK presenting his draft document on system administration.

The workshop facilitators were very pleased with the energy and contributions provided by each working group. There was significant exchange of experiences and views, before agreement was reached on the best way to proceed and document the best practices.

The draft documents will shortly be released for further discussion and comment, but in the meantime it’s possible to join the mailing list by sending a request to ‘gilbert@tespok.co.ke’. Don’t be left out on the discussion if you think you have something to contribute!

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