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Higher Education Driving Cloud Change

Posted on Jul 13, 2015 by Glenn Lipscomb
Tags: Higher Education,Internet2 NET+,Internet2 Network,Frontpage News

At NACUBO’s Annual Meeting, Higher Education Business and Technology Chiefs to Discuss Strategic Advances from Cloud Collaboration Efficiencies

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2015—Amidst increasing pressure on higher education institutions to improve operations, reduce costs and increase speed to market of services, a panel of higher education leaders will present the case for peer-governed cloud solutions which have already logged $250 million in operating benefits in three years across the research and education (R&E) community. At the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) annual meeting on July 20 at 10:30 a.m. CT in Nashville, TN, the session “Collaborating on a Cloud Platform: NET+ and its Efficiencies,” will demonstrate how collaboration between institutions is removing obstacles to cloud adoption and allowing campuses to focus critical resources on strategic advancements in research and scholarship by shifting more operations to the cloud.  

Attendees will include university chief business and financial officer peers who are key to continuing the work begun in 2010 when university leaders asked NACUBO, EDUCAUSE, and Internet2 to help create a new way of provisioning cloud services tailored to the needs of the academic enterprise. Their efforts led to the launch of the Internet2 NET+ initiative, which has subsequently influenced the direction of numerous campuses adopting cloud services. The NACUBO panel will feature chief business and information officers who have implemented the new model at their institutions—including Cornell University, Morehouse College, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Through an interactive presentation, panelists will discuss the growth of cloud applications, the impetus of the Internet2 NET+ initiative, and the ways in which NET+ is delivering a diverse portfolio of standards-compliant and peer-validated applications that is providing substantial operating efficiencies across their institutions.

The need for Higher Education’s voice in cloud services

Cloud services are quickly becoming a standard in cyber-infrastructure for organizations worldwide. With a market Gartner estimated at $131 billion by 2014, and Forrester estimates to top $241 billion by 2020, higher education institutions have long been keen to harness the operational efficiencies and improvements the cloud offers at scale. But, institutions face challenges to ensure commercial providers meet their enterprise needs in the exploding cloud service market.

“University IT organizations, no matter how large or well-managed they may be, are challenged to compete effectively with cloud services across multiple domains: cost, functionality, speed-to-market, security, business continuity, and perhaps others,” said Joanne Destefano, vice president for finance and CFO at Cornell University, and one of the attending speakers on the NET+ panel at the NACUBO annual meeting. “This presents a compelling value proposition for CIOs and CFOs relative to our institutions’ longstanding practice of hosting on-premise systems,” she adds.

The Internet2 NET+ initiative was developed in response to a call from higher education practitioners and institutions. In 2010 a joint task force consisting of members from Internet2, NACUBO, and EDUCAUSE, met to discuss a plan to leverage collective needs in the cloud and influence how cloud service provision could work for higher education, as existing cloud services and models did not provide the standards and integrations needed. The task force developed plans for a coordinating body to support the aggregation of cloud demand and services, motivated by the widespread interest in provisioning the cloud in a way that specifically caters to the needs and demands of the academic enterprise. The result is NET+, which has created a unique and customized cloud platform reflecting the shared aspirations and objectives of the R&E community.

Specifically designed by and for research and education

Over the past three years, the Internet2 NET+ initiative has delivered considerable advantages to over 350 participating campuses, with over $250 million in community operating benefits. NET+ has also provided access to services for over 8 million R&E users with seamless single sign-on authentication and one-click access through Internet2’s InCommon federated identity management system.

The peer-governed and collaboratively designed NET+ cloud service lifecycle was developed to encourage institutions to identify service needs, integrate services with existing R&E technologies, and then vet and test them before broader deployment. Because higher education practitioners leverage their collective strength with service providers to customize the cloud solutions, deployments are accelerated while technology risks, business and legal challenges, and financial costs of cloud adoption are minimized. Through NET+, cloud service providers make a partnership commitment to participating institutions by developing a common contract and business model, jointly producing documentation and support for peers, and receiving regular feedback from institutions on service enhancements that will address evolving user and enterprise needs.

“We believe in the vision of NET+, even as it evolves from a startup to a more mature operating entity,” said Ted Dodds, CIO and vice president for information technologies at Cornell University. “Cornell has participated in a dozen NET+ services. We view them as an opportunity to influence the service offering for the benefit of our community and for Cornell itself, and we are committed to contributing value to the higher education community broadly speaking,” he added. Dodds is also an attending speaker on the NET+ panel at the NACUBO annual meeting.

Internet2 NET+ harnesses the power of community

In its three years of existence, Internet2 NET+ has continued to champion the core values upon which it was originally designed and chartered: not only sourcing the power of community as its key driver in both new product development and availability, but also in governance, maintenance, and forward-looking innovation. Internet2 member universities developed a rigorous service validation process for evaluating and developing cloud solutions that tests features and functionality, assesses security, integrates federated identity for seamless login of campus credentials and architects the services for delivery across the ultra-high-speed Internet2 Network backbone.

Today, the NET+ process has continued to evolve and expand, with campuses working together to collectively vet the specific cloud solutions they believe can be effective in meeting the broader community’s challenges—not just at an individual campus, but on a national scale. They have helped create a simplified means of adoption that ultimately reduces costs and technology risks of migrating from on-campus to cloud-based solutions for the entire R&E community.

To date, more than 300 schools—including the likes of Cornell, UMBC, Indiana, Notre Dame, the University of Southern California and Florida —have signed up for more than 600 subscriptions to a portfolio of approximately 50 peer-directed NET+ services, such as Amazon Web Services, Box, DocuSign and Blackboard.

About Internet2

Internet2® is a member-owned advanced technology community founded by the nation's leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 provides a collaborative environment for U.S. research and education organizations to solve common technology challenges, and to develop innovative solutions in support of their educational, research, and community service missions. Internet2 also operates the nation’s largest and fastest, coast-to-coast research and education network, in which the Network Operations Center is powered by Indiana University. Internet2 serves more than 90,000 community anchor institutions, 280+ U.S. universities, 65 government agencies, 40 regional and state education networks, 85 leading corporations working with our community and more than 65 national research and education networking partners representing more than 100 countries. Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Emeryville, Calif.; Washington, D.C; and West Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit www.internet2.edu or follow @Internet2 on Twitter.

Media contact:
Glenn Lipscomb, Internet2, 720.379.9677, glipscomb@internet2.edu
Ryan Bass, Internet2, 765.210.1953, bassr@internet2.edu