New Internet2 partnerships bolster campus research efforts

University research efforts will be aided by partnerships with major tech companies.

Sixteen partnerships among universities and technology companies will deliver discounted cloud services to those participating campuses who are members of Internet2, a high-powered, research-intensive network consortium.

The new initiative, known as Internet2 NET+, offers “above the network” services to Internet2 member organizations and aims to cut down on the costs often associated with high-powered research and networking needs.

Internet2 counts among its members institutions of higher education, companies, laboratories, and other education and research networks.

The “next-generation network has capacities substantially larger than anything we’ve ever seen before,” said Shelton Waggener, associate vice chancellor and CIO at the University of California Berkeley and incoming Internet2 senior vice president.

“It’s about enabling things that make the world a very small place very quickly. … To do that, you need services that run on top of the network,” he said, noting that one of the initiative’s goals is to support seamless engagement and collaboration from institution to institution.

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Internet2 bringing more cloud computing programs to campus

Creating custom services for higher education will help reduce the cost of the traditional sales cycle, including administrative costs and overhead, while speeding the adoption of the services to encourage instant use among students and faculty.

Jerry Grochow, interim vice president of Internet2 NET+ Services, said the initiative consists of several important phases designed to identify how a specific technology company can best meet the needs of Internet2 member universities. The initiative will help both sides explore ways in which existing or future products in the cloud might be of value to the university community.

A “service validation stage” concerns products or services that exist now, but must be fine-tuned to meet the specific needs of the university community. Companies in this category will develop a business model appropriate for the university environment, Grochow said.
Early adoption occurs when a service or product is well-defined and usable, but still requires work to put processes and supports in place. Ten or 12 universities might be working with a vendor in this phase.

The final stage is general availability, when early adopters have been expanded and kinks are ironed out for optimum performance.

Box, a cloud-based collaboration and storage management solution, will help faculty, students, and staff to share and collaborate on files internally as well as across boundaries with different universities.

Seven universities, including Cornell and UC Berkeley, are rolling out the product, and 35 are in trial, said Robin Daniels, the company’s head of enterprise marketing.

The solution “enables students to collaborate in teams, with professors and faculty, much more efficiently and securely,” Daniels said. The skills students learn as they use the solution can be put to practice in the business world once students move into the workforce, he added.

“This is a great way for us to tap into the minds of people who are still learning,” Daniels said.

See also:

Internet2 bringing more cloud computing programs to campus

Several university CIOs identified Box as a product that would serve their needs, which helped to spur the company’s participation. Once Box connected to the Internet2 network, those who already used Box and had Box accounts were able to instantly begin using the service on the Internet2 network.

Through the Internet2 NET+ initiative, member universities have access to features and functionality offered to Box’s commercial customers, but tailored and customized for the higher education environment.

Microsoft is among the major companies participating in the initiative, and Cameron Evans, the company’s education CTO, said that Internet2 members will have immediate access to Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

“We’re in a new world of data—big data, little data,” he said. “There’s not going to be any less data over the foreseeable future.”

The company hopes to make it easier for users to collaborate across different universities. To do that, Microsoft is taking advantage of InCommon, a federated authentication mechanism giving each user a single set of log-on credentials allowing them to log onto computers in any organization that is a part of InCommon. Not all InCommon members are Internet2 members.

“It’s easier, in a lot of cases, for you to enter a foreign country than it is to log into networking in the higher education community,” Evans said.

Internet2 member universities will have access to Windows Azure to open up additional collaborative, instructional and research opportunities in the cloud.

Microsoft will waive data egress and data ingress charges for Internet2 university members, and principal investigators involved in large data initiatives, such as genomics, big data, or “the long tail of science” projects, can cut costs on bandwidth charges when moving or accessing data sets and can allocate those funds to other research-related activities.

Institutions including Florida International University, George Mason University, University of Virginia, and University of Washington, will be some of the first schools to pilot large-data management and research projects in the cloud on Windows Azure.

See also:

Internet2 bringing more cloud computing programs to campus

Kelli Trosvig, vice president and chief information officer at the University of Washington, said that data management and storage occupy too much faculty time—which could be better spent on actual collaboration or interaction with peers.

“UW faculty, using Windows Azure, have been able to introduce sophisticated data management and analysis techniques to undergraduates studying climate science and oceanography,” Trosvig said. “This agreement will open the door to Windows Azure for applications studying the human genome and other areas of strength at the University of Washington.”

Dell will offer a set of services tailored for the research community, including its Apache Hadoop framework, which, by scaling from a single computer to thousands of servers, lets users store, process, and analyze large amounts of structured and unstructured data.

John Phillips, managing director of Dell’s global education services, said the company’s data analytics and storage solutions will offer higher education institutions effective ways to manage costs and support delivery.

Those solutions are “designed with the unique needs that higher education customers face around collaborative research computing,” he said.

Dell will provide solutions and services that support the next generation of collaborative research and simplify research computing from the desktop to the data center, including:

  • Dell Virtual Desktop as a Service
  • Dell Cloud with VMware vCloud Datacenter Service
  • Dell Virtual Private Cloud (VPDC) Services

Dell is partnering with Clemson University to extend the company’s community-based management model and expand Clemson’s research and education communities.

Jim Bottum, Clemson’s chief information officer and vice provost for computing & information technology, said the partnership is the first step in broadening high-performance, data-intensive computing to more research communities.

“Reaching this broader audience aids the acceleration of research and inquiry to help solve the ever-increasing and complex problems facing society,” Bottum said. “Using Internet2’s Innovation Platform concept and emerging suite of NET+ services will allow the academic community to deploy massive resources in response to the data grand challenge.”

Participating companies include Aastra, Adobe, Box, CENIC, Dell, Desire2Learn, Duo Security, DuraSpace, Evogh, HP, Level3 Communications, Merit Network, Inc., Microsoft, Savvis–a CenturyLink Company, SHI International, and The Solution Design Group.

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Laura Ascione

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