Keeping our networks in great shape

Set up to share ‘advice, guidance, support and feedback on the provision of the centrally provided, university-wide core network and related services’ the Network Advisory Group (NAG), has faithfully delivered this service at Oxford University for over thirty years. 

Meetings, meetings, meetings

The first formal meeting of NAG was a very long time ago, on 8 June 1992. Since that time there have been 109 meetings. The group had hoped to mark their 100th meeting but the pandemic intervened, and it was the height of lockdown. The meeting went ahead virtually but was, understandably, not a celebration. 

With representatives from across the University, NAG meets termly, helping to ensure that:  

  • the wider University is informed about planned work that may be ongoing in their area  

  • service changes impacting the wider University are raised – for instance 'DNS zone reload timings' which slow down changes taking effect for users, or changes to the 'IP Addressing Policy' which ensures fair allocation of a scare resource, so no two units try to use the same IP address which would be, at best, very disruptive for the units concerned and their users. 

NAG meetings also provide an opportunity for the Networks and Data Centres (NDC) team to share forthcoming changes and planned service updates, benefitting from feedback on their proposals and ensuring they meet the needs of the wider community. The team also takes the opportunity to share performance data, updates on ongoing and future projects, and other network related items that might be of interest more widely such as traffic levels across various networks (see 109 NAG (TT23 NDC Report) as an example). 

So, how does all this impact the average University member? 

The Networks Advisory Group is central in ensuring that Odin (the university-wide central network allowing users to access the internet and other university services), meets 98% of the needs of the University’s researchers, students, libraries, museums, administrators, guests etc. Only 98% you ask? Well, the remaining 2% are managed as ‘special cases’, so everyone is included one way or another, without the University spending huge sums unnecessarily.  

Did you know that in an average month eduroam has nearly 70000 unique users, and that's just one of the university's networks.

We all benefit from using these networks every day, and if you don’t notice them or even realise they are there, then that’s good news and means that the systems and services are running smoothly. The Networks Advisory Group is central in making this happen, discussing and sharing issues together to come up with agreed solutions, and sharing important information when needed. 

On average around 70,000 of us, using more than 130,000 unique devices, access eduroam every month!

Find out more 

All NAG minutes are available to University members on the Network Advisory Group SharePoint site. You can also find your local NAG representative on this site and contact them to discuss any proposals or issues that affect the university-wide service you’d like raised.