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Cloud Services Program Update, March 2018

Mar 07, 2018, by David Gift
Tags: Cloud Services & Applications, Frontpage News, Internet2 NET+, Recent Posts

The Internet2 Cloud Services program (traditionally referred to as “NET+”) has delivered material value to the higher education (HE) community over its six years of operation. The program has used the power of community collaboration to influence cloud service providers (SPs) to offer their services with the technical features and configuration, security and identity, and legal terms and conditions, of vital importance to HE institutions and their users. Additionally, the program has led to simplified and favorable pricing of service offerings, and simplified paths for procurement for those institutions able to take advantage of them. Internet2 remains committed to the continuing success of this community-driven cloud services program, and to continually evolving the program for sustainability and effectiveness.

The heart and key element of the program is the collaborative effort of multiple Internet2 member institutions, and each service provider, facilitated by Internet2 staff, to work deeply and intensively together to fashion service offerings that work uniquely well for HE consumption and use. This takes a great deal of effort for each offering on the part of all parties, and all participants should be recognized and appreciated for their vital contributions to the outcomes. The result of this collaboration, in each case, is a service offering for which the HE community may have high confidence in the quality and efficacy of the service, well beyond the confidence level they will generally have in any “plain vanilla” offering of the same service from the same SP. This is a truly unique value that, so far, has only been delivered consistently through the Internet2 Cloud Services program.

Currently, the program has well over 700 service subscriptions with more than 25 SPs. Seventy-three percent (243) of Internet2 HE member institutions have taken advantage of the program; 100 non-member institutions have at least one subscription.

Today, Internet2 continues to operate this program along with its HE members and community advisory groups. It is obvious that the marketplace for cloud services has changed a great deal over the program’s history. It has evolved from one in which only a few cloud services existed and the majority of HE institutions weren’t yet sure that “the cloud” was a good place for their data, to one in which use of cloud services is simply how things get done. Cloud services are ubiquitous, with new services emerging weekly if not more frequently, and mature services constantly evolving on 2-week dev-ops cycles. We’ve learned many lessons from experience in operating the program - SPs and subscribers alike have come and gone from the portfolio as they make individual business choices about using this approach to the HE market space. But the core value of the program persists.

It only makes sense, given the dynamic technological environment, that a program like this must continue to itself evolve constantly to remain effective and for its desired impacts to be sustained. Internet2, working with the Program Advisory Group (PAG), its governance, and across the HE community, has been evaluating the program’s effectiveness and methods for some time, and is making adjustments to address:

  • more effective and direct relationships between the SPs and their service subscribers;
  • more efficient order, invoicing and payables management;
  • streamlined approaches to the legal relationships involved;
  • alignment of the service offering portfolio to provide greatest impact and value to the HE community while managing the high fixed costs of supporting each offering;
  • the emerging roles of distributors and resellers in the market.

The majority of this work to continually evolve the program has been underway for almost two years now and continues.

Internet2 is continuing to enhance the Cloud Services program with services that are impactful to the HE community. Since December 2017, we’ve added to or updated in the service offering portfolio:

  • Voyance by Nyansa;
  • Updated Duo program agreement direct with Duo;
  • Splunk via a new distributor model with Carahsoft;
  • Google Cloud Platform as an early phase offering via Carahsoft;

… and there’s more to come. Additionally, we are working on deeper ways to engage with select SPs as we work with the community to envision and develop cloud access and service stacks.

In my 4 years at Internet2 working in Community Engagement I've heard many of our members' stories about the value this program has delivered to them, and have also heard our industry partners in the program recognize the value of Internet2 and its HE members facilitation of deep, critical and solid guidance that has shaped their products to better meet HE's unique needs. With the recent realigned strategy announcement, Internet2 remains committed to the continuing success of this community-driven cloud services program, and to continually evolving the program for sustainability and effectiveness. We look forward, as always, to engaging with our members as we collectively shape and benefit from this collaborative effort.

Dave Gift
AVP Community Engagement
Cloud Services program executive