The Emerging Research and Education Cloud; The Case for Industry Specific Cloud Solutions
By Khalil Yazdi, CIO in Residence, Cloud Services Program Development, Internet2
• What security, privacy and compliance standards do solutions meet?
• Are solutions scalable and integrate with enterprise infrastructure and data?
• What about enterprise-level terms, contracts and pricing?
• And, what new processes and technology strategies must be in place to support cloud services adoption?
In practice, neither the ‘commercial’ nor ‘government’ clouds have meaningfully supported the Research and Education (R&E) community’s unique requirements. A variety of experiences by institutions with cloud services led to a recognition that the commercial cloud would not and could not respond to the differentiated needs of the academic community.
In May, 2010, a group of nearly 150 university and industry CIO/CTOs and business officers convened by Internet2, EDUCAUSE and NACUBO to explore what a future with cloud services would mean to higher education. The objective was to create models or strategies that would align the community and shape the way higher education would deploy the cloud. Strategies were identified to proactively influence cloud service development in a way that would ensure alignment with the needs of research, teaching and learning; lower business, legal and compliance risks; and reduce the costs and organizational impact of cloud services adoption.
To pursue this vision, a group of Internet2 member university CIOs funded an exploratory initiative in 2010 and in 2011 and Internet2 NET+ Services was established.
The extraordinary effort by the Internet2 community has driven forward the emergence of a ‘research and education’ cloud to complement commercial and ‘government’ clouds
Universities by nature often are fiercely competitive, but in this case the nearly four hundred schools have recognized the most effective approach to engaging with cloud providers was through collaboration across the Hi-Ed community. This model leverages the networking and identity middleware assets already available to all Internet2 community members, and in many cases to non-member campuses through a process by which as more and more universities participate in the NET+ initiative, the benefit of national scales accrues to large and small institutions alike. As more services are added through sponsorship by member campuses, the more likely the portfolio of services will address the diverse needs of individual institutions, researchers, students and educators. Importantly, the Hi-Ed community has come together without the need for external regulation or policy mandates–demonstrating that it is not only possible for competitive enterprises to collaborate, but that individual institutional efforts can be leveraged to bring additional value to the entire community.
This extraordinary effort by the Internet2 community has driven forward the emergence of a ‘research and education’ cloud to complement commercial and ‘government’ clouds. Its relative success since launching the first generally available service in April of 2012 really is a tribute to a model of community alignment and engagement and is a model that other industry verticals should consider emulating.
The lesson learned is that there is a need for dedicated clouds and cloud brokerage to support important verticals, particularly those that are the foundations of economic growth and improved quality of life such as research, education, and healthcare. As new innovative technologies emerge that will prove disruptive of business practices, it is the empowerment of collaborative communities of interest to ensure a healthy and effective transition to a technology future that promises to be truly transformative.